Mustard Seeds Not Metaphysics

Reflections and musings occasioned by Caputo, The Folly of God. I was so caught up in the ideas of Chapter 9: “Mustard Seeds Not Metaphysics that I missed the flow of the chapter. This prompted me to review by outlining the chapter about The Theopoetics of the Kingdom of God.


Theology is a discourse—the kingdom of God in the form of poetics


  • Poetics softens the voice of theology
  • It becomes the theology of the event that is taking place in the name (of) “God.”
  • collection of metaphors, metonyms, narratives, allegories, songs, poems, parables,
  • not to define the event, but to allow it to happen, to expose us to it

The classical sense of theology

  • a set of concepts, propositions, and arguments
  • to figure out the being of the best and the brightest, of the god (theos)—pure form
  • that pure form is impervious to change and unmindful of all else
  • difficult to sync that with Jesus’ abba,who counts our tears and hears our orayers


  • end of strong theology; beginning of weak theology
  • gospels are theopoetics
  • seeking a figurative way to talk about what is going on in the name (of) “God” or kingdom of God
  • paradox of the “logos of the cross”
    • incredulity about the logos of the world
    • promise of something yet to come
  • the event is not a necessity, but a possibility
    • it does not exist, it insists
    • the possibility of the impossible

Hegel’s Vorstellung

  • Hegel’s theopoetics was a transitional stage
  • God as Supreme Being was a Vorstellung(a representation)
  • Religion (and its truth) is a little green, immature
    • Revelation + imagination
    • Eye-opening revelation as a picture story
  • Displaced regionalized religion (part reason, part faith) with the Absolute Spirit
  • Absolute Spirit had three centers
    • Art (sensuousness)
      • Sports is the way many people get their art—beauty of form and motion—maybe religion, too
    • Religion (Vorstellungstirs up feelings of connection with Absolute Spirit with spiritual land intellectual content)
    • Philosophy(reason)
  • Vorstellungas story “is the onlyform in which mostpeople can absorb the absolute truth.”
    • About metaphysics, not mustard seeds
    • Requires thinking
    • Think through the picture-stories—that is, what is going on in the unfolding of the Absolute Spirit
    • Find the unconditional version of the unconditional
    • Human being need a concrete exemplification, a magnetic individual, an intuition of the Absolute Spirit to aid our thinking through the Vorstellung
      • Jesus is that magnetic individual
      • [This reminds me of Howe’s description of Yeshua as the one who constellates the healing for the woman at the banquest of Simon the Pharisee]
    • Philosophy de-codes the signals in the Vorstellung
  • Kierkegaard’s critique: God must have entered the world to consult with German metaphysicists
  • Tillich’s critique: can never find an unconditional way to speak about the unconditional
  • Hegel’s breakthrough
    • Revelationis a rich, imaginative, and suggestive figuration of the Spirit
    • Religion takes shape in Vorstellung(poetics), not supernatural intervention from on high
    • Thus, inviting thinking (theology) into the sanctuary to figure out what is going on in the Vorstellung
  • Caputo’s critique re: what is going on in religion and theology
    • The call of the unconditional, not absolute knowledge
    • the embodiment of our aspirations, not the bodying forth of Absolute Spirit
    • The task of theology is twofold:
      • Protect the unconditional from being identified with any conditions
      • Maintain the unconditional in the weak mode
    • Hegel’s metaphysics (like any metaphysics) is driving out of control, DUI
    • Caputo substitutes a hermeneutic of experiencefor metaphysics

Caputo’s replacements:

  • Absolute Spirit & ground of being àinconceivable, programmable event
  • Pretentious metaphysics àunpretentious poetics
  • Theology àtheopoetics
  • Religion as purveyor of Revelation àa song that lays claim to us unconditionally
  • Art, religion, philosophy // science, ethics, politics, everyday life àways to negotiate with the underlying eventiveness of the space between the unconditional and conditional
  • Religion as Sabbath rest àun-sabbath spooking us 24/7 producing unrest


  • An evocation evoked by a provocation to
    • Provide a sense of the event
    • Disarm the dispassionate
    • Draw the into the fray
  • God’s folly is not to cling to existence, but to insist
  • Our folly is to respond to a call whose provenance is clouded and uncertain
    • Not only to respond to the call, but to also be responsible for it

The Kingdom of God

  • The scriptural name for the folly of God
  • An event which calls toward a world under God’s rule
    • Mad about justice and forgiveness come what may, even unto death
  • What is called for never comes
  • Christianity is dependent upon its notcoming
    • While waiting for the Kingdom [Yeshua] we get Plan B—the church
  • The folly of the kingdom (and the church) is what produces the scorn of the worldly kingdoms
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