Thursday, May 2, 2013

Faith Creates Divinity (Fides creatrix divinitas)

We need to embrace the prevenience of faith. 

Yes, with all its risks and dangers.  Faith is omnipotent, without limit, and creates God.

Western Christians talk a lot about the prevenience of grace, that God's grace is powerful, that it is before everything else, and sets all things in motion.  The human will is bound to that prevenience, love is nought without out it, and freedom waits upon the arrival of grace.  This, and so much more, is wrapped up in grace.

But faith is more powerful since it makes God God.  Faith is not alone, no autonomous power of the self that constructs God as the idealist tradition would have it.  Faith is correlated to promise, God's pledge in Christ.  Faith alone preceeds all else.  It has powers that deserve the highest praise, writes Luther in his 1531/1535 Galatians Lectures on Galatians 3:6. No one can praise it highly enough, give it proper accolades.

Suddenly, we see the peril and promise of the left-Hegelian tradition.  Only promise is needed to distinguish the creative power of faith and the subjective faculty of imagination that results in human self-deception and self-alienation.  Promise is the critical discrimen that distinguishes fancy and pathology from the hope of the Crucified, Triune God.  And that faith makes God God.  Without it, there is no divinity, no majesty anywhere in the world.

[This, a preview of an article I've written for the fall issue of dialog: a Journal of Theology.]


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  2. I somewhat agree, but think that faith has more to do with knowing than with power. I wonder if faith isn't the lens through which we "know what we know" and has to do with knowledge (or perceived knowledge). It may be a semantic argument at one level, but I think faith shapes worldview and therefore frames what we think we can know or not know. Granted, it is that basis which allows us to know or not know of God - a powerful truth - but I find worldview and knowledge more useful in my teaching than omnipotence (which I think ultimately is from a desire for us to decide where control rests). Even Karl Barth believed that if God is omnipotent, God must be self-limiting in order for the realities of life and the freedom of the gospel to be possible. Because I believe that there is much chaos and much that is uncontrollable in the universe, omnipotence is a category I try to avoid as a less than useful mythic category of an age gone by. Thanks for this post - thought provoking stuff!