Allowing Various God-Relationships

  • J. Kellenberger
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series


In the preceding chapters I have focused on the moral aspect of individual faith relationships to God. The morality of such individual God-relationships, I have argued, is not at at odds with a universal ethics (though it is at odds with a ‘universal’ ethics1). And, I have tried to show, the morality of God-relationships is discernible in outline by virtue of its analogy to the morality of human relationships and by virtue of its contrast with guilt and shame moralities. Now, in this chapter, I would like to examine another question. Put one way it asks: What is the range of various and varying possible God-relationships? Later I shall have to reformulate and clarify the question, but for now this expression of it will do. In the early going our concern will be with the range of different God-relationships that are faith relationships. Later in the chapter, in the second half, after I have reformulated the question, I shall broaden our perspective to include possible God- relationships that are not defined in terms of faith or belief. And in both cases our concern will not be limited to a single religious tradition.


Religious Belief Religious Tradition True Conception Moral Sensitivity Transcendent Ideal 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    John Hick, ‘On Conflicting Religious Truth-Claims’, Problems of Religious Pluralism (London: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985) p. 91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    St Bonaventura, The Soul’s Journey into God, The Tree of Life, and The Life of St. Francis, translated and with an introduction by Ewert Cousins. Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1978) p. 195.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John Kekes, ‘Moral Sensitivity’, Philosophy, 59 (1984) pp. 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    The New York Times, 23 December 1952. Eisenhower’s remark is cited by Will Herberg, Protestant-Catholic-Jew (revised edition; Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books Doubleday & Company, 1960) p. 84.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Michael Harrington, The Politics at God’s Funeral (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1983) p. 178.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Yves Congar cites this phenomenon with some concern in The Wide World, My Parish, translated by Donald Attwater (London: Longman & Todd; Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1961) pp. 143–4.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kierkegaard, Postscript, pp. 179-80.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kierkegaard, Postscript, p. 175.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kierkegaard, Postscript, p. 540.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    In this paragraph, notably in the last step I took but earlier as well, I have allowed that, in Kierkegaard’s categories, if one has faith (which for Kierkegaard is the inwardness that results from embracing the absolute paradox that the eternal became temporal in Christ), then one has faith in the eternal-become-temporal, that is in God. Also I have left aside the problematic connection between the passion of faith and embracing an ‘objective uncertainty’ that Kierkegaard posits in the Postscript. Passion or inwardness, so far as the discussion in this and the next paragraph is concerned, need not be understood as the continuing struggle to believe an uncertainty, but can instead, following my suggestion in this paragraph, be understood as absolute trust and commitment.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Modern Library, n.d.) pp. 31-2.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Simone Weil, Waiting on God, translated by Emma Craufurd (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951) p. 81.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, translated by Arthur Wills (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1952) p. 111.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Weil, Waiting on God, p. 82.Google Scholar
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    Congar, The Wide World, My Parish, p. 122 (Congar’s emphasis).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Congar, The Wide World, My Parish, pp. 124-5.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Weil, Waiting on God, p. 138.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Weil, Waiting on God, p. 81. She adds to these true friendship, which she distinguishes from love of our neighbor.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Weil, Waiting on God, pp. 104, 105, and 108.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Weil, Waiting on God, p. 99.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Weil, Waiting on God, pp. 116 and 126.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Weil, Waiting on God, p. 116.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Weil, Waiting on God, pp. 117, 126, and 120-2.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    The question of when a ‘practice’ is the same in one religious culture as in another can be difficult (Is marrying two wives the same practice in Rome and Riyadh?). I shall come back to this question in the next chapter.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Congar, The Wide World, My Parish, p. 111.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    William Temple, Nature, Man and God (London: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1964) p. 416.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Paul Knitter, ‘Catholic Theology of Religions at a Crossroads’, Concilium 183 (February 1986) 105Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Tosefta Sandhedrin, 13:21. Cited by Leo Trepp in ‘Judaism and the Religions of the World’, The Experience of Religious Diversity, edited by John Hick and Hasan Askari (Aldershot, England and Brook-field, Vermont: Gower, 1985) p. 34.Google Scholar
  29. 31.
    Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Towards a World Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1981) p. 170.Google Scholar
  30. 32.
    Smith, Towards a World Theology, p. 181.Google Scholar
  31. 33.
    John Hick, ‘A Philosophy of Religious Pluralism’, Problems of Religious Pluralism, p. 29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© J. Kellenberger 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kellenberger
    • 1
  1. 1.California State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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