The Weakness of God — John Caputo

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 1.59.28 AMCaputo, John, The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Indiana University Press, 2006)

Instead of looking at the concept of God directly, Caputo focuses on the event that energizes the name of God. Perhaps. Caputo regularly adds “perhaps” after referring the the name of God — suggesting that we acknowledge our uncertainty in the face of God. “God does not exist; God insists.”

Some years ago I gave up using the language “discerning the will of God” (grappling with God’s existence); replacing it, instead with “discerning the call of God” (attending and responding to God’s insistence). “For Caputo, the event exposes God as a weak force, a powerless power but also as conjuring up something unconditional.” (from the Back Cover). A few thoughts from The Weakness of God:

The modest proposal I make in this book is that the name of God is the name of an event: or rather that it harbors an event, and that theology is the hermeneutics of that event, its task being to release what is happening in that name, to set it free, to give it its own head, and thereby head off the forces that would prevent this event. (page 2)

The movement of the event … has to do with a transforming moment that releases us from the grip of the present and opens up the future in a way that makes possible a new birth, a new beginning, a new invention of ourselves, even as it awakens dangerous memories. (page 6)

Suppose we imagine God not so much in terms of everything that we desire, which seems a little acquisitive, but in terms of everything that desires us, everything that draws us out of ourselves and calls upon us. calling from below being to that which is beyond, that summons up what is best in us, that asks us to go out of our creaturely way of being  and love generously, to live and love, to live and let live, to love and let love, to live by loving unconditionally. (page 36)

For the call calls quietly and is easily lost to all but the most patient and attentive ear, one tuned to the silent peal of its appeal. … The name of God is the name of an event neither inside nor outside, above or below, but up ahead, neither real nor unreal, but not yet real. … The world cannot cotain it. and so it makes the world restless until it is brought forth, which never quite happens. That is why the name of God occupies a considerable place in our conscious thoughts even as it settles deeply into our unconscious. (page 123)

“While this view of God flies in the face of orthodox theology, it also poses a provocative version of theology in a radical and postmodern mode.”  (from the Back Cover) His analysis of the Genesis creation story and the story of the raising of Lazarus are alone worth the price of the book. Caputo loosened the soil around my theological roots, challenging and facilitating both my growth in theological understanding and a heightening of my spirit.  Before I started reading Caputo, I was likely headed toward Spong’s alumni association of the church. With Caputo and many others, I have finally identified the nature of my lover’s quarrel with the church. This website is my exploring that spat.

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