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July 11, 2006

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ehj

Brad,
I think I took the either/or stance because I am trying to express in no uncertain terms that God's character is firmly rooted in reality. To put it simply: God is real, and he is who he is. The term 'social construction' to me suggests that humanity has attributed certain characteristics to God independent of truth and reality. Certainly God's character has come to be known through revelation over time and across cultures, but I think that the fact that he has revealed who he is to humanity is what is key.
I don't think you are describing post-modernity as it would describe itself. Instead I hear you saying that humans have been an integral ingredient in the process of the revelation of God's character. A process that reveals how much he loves to interact with us and involve us in everything he does. We owe much to those who have encountered him and left us a record of what he is like (as was His intent). We have not pieced together (constructed) idealized characteristics of what we as humans would want a Divine Being to be like, but rather he has, because he is gracious, revealed the truth about who he really is.

ehj

Brad Jersak

Thanks for this contribution, Eric.

One thing I look for when someone critiques postmodern thought is whether they give hints of whether they've returned to some of the brilliance of the pre-moderns like Donne, or if they are merely clinging to modernism, which has so miserably failed us.

Knowing that you are a poet and an anabaptist of the original type with a strong theology of the kingdom, I was a little surprised that you leaned so heavily on either/or at times. You triggered a question for me: is not salvation history, and indeed, the incarnation itself, a both/and of truth and social construction.

I.e. truth may be "absolute" somewhere in eternity in a kind of Logos, capital W-Word sort of way. But then the process of manifesting that Word as flesh involved quite a process that certainly involved social construction... not that the truth was socially constructed, but that our understanding of it developed in very definite contexts and cultures.

Our revelation of God as trinity did not get faxed from heaven (see, there was a grain of truth in the DaVinci Code!). Nor was it articulated as a non-negotiable creed during the time of Christ. This is not to say that it wasn't true, but that the theology of the truth was developed over centuries by people who thought and fought through very human filters, not plopped on us suddenly and finally.

So what I'm describing is a version of postmodernity that wants it's cake and eats it too. Absolute truth exists, but it is known (even by revelation) incarnationally (growing just as the man Jesus grew in stature and self-awareness)... a process that I don't think is unfair to call a social construction. So the revelation, not the truth itself, is discovered and developed and it is constructed (out of the truth) rather than created (out of our own ideas).

I'm still working through this, so thanks for triggering these thoughts.

bj

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