Kaufman concept of God

22/07/2011 23:23

Constructing the Concept of God (Kaufman)


 As Soren Kierkegaard described the word “God,” seems to be unexplainable which is highest conception, not to be explained in terms of other things which means not to compare created things with God and explain God’s attribute but explain only by exploring more profoundly the concept of itself. However, as a Christian examining the word ‘God’ to explain the personality of God in constructing the theological ideas on the word ‘God’ seems to be very important imaginative activity and that is often neglected or not recognized. Therefore, we shall carefully look over the view of Gordon D. Kaufman. He is the professor Divinity at Harvard Divinity School.

Issues in his theological imagination the word ‘God’

The problem of the writer theological imagination seems to be in untraceable image of God by using the phrase such as, “God is not a reality immediately available in our experience for observation, inspection and description which is never directly referential. Therefore, the concept of God, we are unable to check and the image of God for accuracy and adequacy through direct confrontation with the reality of God. For Kaufman, all speech to and about God all experience of God is only made by a function of constructive powers of the imagination. In constructing the concept of God, the imagination seems to be involved in important part. God is not object of ordinary perception, directly accessible to us, but believed to be transcendent and mysterious, hidden from our sight even unknowable. Here, we may put the statement of Anslem that, “I believe God in order that I may know Him.” The idea of God is developed or drawn from the social, political and cultural experiences. According to Kaufman the idea of God is the notions inherited from the prophets, poets and thinkers through their imaginative work of many proceeding generations. Therefore, God in the Bible is a product of imaginative construction and something of the various historical stages through which that construction developed.


Historical and Biblical Issues

All human life is rooted in the very ancient Near Eastern mythological traditions, according to the modern critical historical scholarship. Out of these remote mists the very word Yahweh appears as a distinct character in the mosaic period and prophets era and followed by the Christian era, a mixing of Hebraic and Hellenic cultural and religious traditions. The mythic imagination was able to shape into the unified world ruled over by the one God, Yahweh. The whole human history was caught up in a movement toward the goal which Yahweh had posited for it from the beginning and which he would ultimately bring it. The world which God had created is like a kingdom ordered by God’s sovereign will, ruling through kings, priest and prophets. God is the ultimate point of the reference in terms of which all is understood and apart from which nothing can be known or grasped. In a radically unified world view such as monotheism, the central focus on the meaning, ‘God’ become easily reified into an independently existing being. But the constituting elements of the frameworks of the interpretation are not distinctly locatable in objects of this sort of all. In the mind’s of the construction of the image/ concept of God the ordinary relation of the subject and predicate is reversed. The attributes of God,(Eg. Aseity, holiness, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscience, providence, love and self-revelation as the principal character in great dramatic story God is conceived as absolute, all- powerful, all-knowing are in more mythic and wholistic mode in which the imagination first did its work.


Theological Constructive Issues on the Word ‘God’

Theology has always been a constructive in character. Therefore, we should presume that theology is working directly from an authoritative of the divine revelation, and then only we can proceed and set out the meaningful concept of God once in radically constructive character of theology which is acknowledged. It is in a response to the meaning already abroad in the cultural and language, meaning given in and through the symbol, “God,” that theological criticism and construction arises. In this sense theology always begins in Faith and in response to revelation and is always in the service of Faith. The symbol of God claims to represent to us a focus for orientation which will bring the true fulfillment and meaning to human life. The modern biblical scholarship has discovered that Yahweh become the known first and primarily as the savior and protector of his people and later as he identified as the creator of heaven and earth and the source of ground of all that is. The word God has been used in many different ways in western literature but however, the concept of God as the sole proper object of unqualified human devotion and service appears to be structure by unique and powerful internal dialectic. On the other hand God is conceived as a humanizing center of orientation. God’s radical transcendent of the motif is in God’s absolute authority and power over human existence that gave the symbol of God its great power to evoke this kind of human self transcendence. The image or Concept of God actually exercised its power, through the terror it evoked and love it inspired in the history of the past sin to future judgment and salvation. The image/concept of God does not function simply as referring to some being which is grasped and understood. God is the symbol which holds and unified personifying image/ concept suitable for devotion, meditation, and orientation of life. God continued to symbolize that which is outside and other than human, which effectively relativizes present human existence and consciousness, that which draws the human out of itself, opening it to new possibilities in the future.


Considerable Tension between the Symbol of God and Humanness

Kaufman has mentioned that there has been considerable tension between the two central motifs in the symbol of God and humaneness with its tendencies towards anthropomorphism and its emphasis on human fulfillments; the transcendence or absoluteness with its emphasis on God’s radical otherness, God’s mystery, and God’s utter inaccessibility. God’s absoluteness at the expense of God’s humaneness resulted because the consequence of overemphasis. On the other hands, the motifs of God’s humaneness, however, at the expense of God’s absoluteness, have had equally deleterious effects. The import and the meaning for human life supplied by an image/concept of God constructed in this way should be obvious.  The author have said that he is claiming that the symbol of God must in some way correspond to metaphysical real, if it is in fact true that devotion to that symbol provides proper orientation for human life.


Christians and Contemporary Issues on the Concept of God

The concept of God requires and enables us to employ varying sorts of representation falling on the continuum running from highly mythical and symbolical image, God as personal being who loves and care and to the more abstract notion of the cosmic ground of our humanity. Contemporary efforts to construct and adequate conception of God have been met with the great difficulties at this point partly, and because of it has seemed important to the interpret the meaning of God in purely and imminent or intermundane terms. Constructing the idea of God with this emphasis on God transcendence of and distinctness from the world has the undeniable strength of highlighting the respect in the human existence is ensconced in the impenetrable mystery. However, it is not necessary in every situation in which theological language is used to attempt to resolve the question of the relationship between the mythic and the metaphysical dimensions in the concept of God.


Personal Reflections

In terms of constructing the idea, image or the concept of God is very contemporary issues which has been questioned by the various by many scholars and try to resolve the problem of this concept of God. It is important to observe the notion of the God which gradually emerging in the biblical history, the interpretation of human existence as the under God. Every feature of the experience and life is interpretable within the framework. The overall framework of the interpretation of this sort, which gives the meaning of to existence, is indispensable to human. We cannot gain the orientation in life and cannot act without any conception or vision of the context in which we are moving or living. A framework of interpretation for life and experience cannot be artificially built up from the scratch, and simply adopted by someone who fined it attractive and plausible.

I could find the word God has been used in many different ways; however, God is envisioned beyond human knowing. The emphasis on God’s humaneness in the traditional theistic world-view meant that events and process of the natural order within which human life fell were not to be understood in wholly impersonal terms but we can put this point more in contemporary terms. When we developed in this way the motifs of humaneness and of absoluteness in the concept of God remain in certain tensions. We should not be misled into repeating the common fault of searching for some particular being or reality to which the name ‘God’ can be applied. The author attempt to analyze more fully what grounding of this theological work in the conceptual frame actually means, and to propose that the theology now be done with direct and full consciousness of the existence of God or concept of God. However, the concept of God which are rooted in the Christian tradition could attempt to sketch desiderate.