Variations on a theme in theological anthropology

Variations on a theme in theological anthropology

A. Ernest Becker

Men aren’t built to be gods, to take in the whole world; they are built like other creatures, to take in the piece of ground in front of their noses.

from The Denial of Death, (Free Press, 1997), 178.

B. Rowan Williams

Theology must rediscover itself as a language that assists us in being mortal, living in the constraints of a finite and material world without resentment. […]

What we are are our limits, that we are here not there, now not then, took this decision, not that, to bring us here and now. And if this is true, understanding a person is understanding their limits, their materiality. […]

My unity as a person is always out of my field of vision (I can’t see my own face), just as the divine condition for there being fields of vision at all, for there being a world or worlds, is out of my field of vision (I can’t see my own origin).

from “The Suspicion of Suspicion: Wittgenstein and Bonhoeffer,” in Wrestling with Angels, (Eerdmans, 2007), 186, 193.

C. Nicholas Lash

My body is not simply this lump of matter by means of which I communicate with other people. My body is also the world constituted by the personal, social and economic relationships in which I share. These all form part of me. My language, my family, my city, are parts of my body. When I die, it is not merely this lump of matter that dies: the whole network of personal, family and social communications which I formed a part, dies a little too.

from Theology on Dover Beach, (Wipf and Stock, 2005), 174-5. Cf. Theology on the Way to Emmaus, 175; Seeing in the Dark, 112-3.

Nicholas Lash on divine and human knowledge

Nicholas Lash on divine and human knowledge

“The supposition that there could be a single ‘basic sense’ of ‘know,’ held constant ‘across the divine-human gap,’ risks giving the impression that bodiliness is, in the last analysis, incidental to what, in human beings, knowledge means, and to how we come to know things. It is, after all, our being in the body, being in time, being historically, socially and culturally produced and nurtured, which makes human knowing the experientially grounded interpretative and responsive negotiation of circumstances not of our creating. Whereas God’s knowledge lovingly and gratuitously creates the things God knows, ex nihilo, ours does not.”

Nicholas Lash, “Contemplation, Metaphor, and Real Knowledge,” in The Beginning and the End of ‘Religion’ (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 129.