Day: January 7, 2010

is God really necessary?

According to Ebehard Jüngel, one of the key (re-)discoveries of contemporary theology and anthropology is the ‘non-necessity of God’. By this he means that we’re slowly being weaned off God Of The Gaps-type thinking. We’re being forced to relinquish the attempt to see God as the explanation of the world — or of what seems inexplicable in it (for the moment).

For Jüngel, giving up this kind of thinking means that we stop believing in God for the sake of something else (e.g., what our belief in him does for us in making the world a more comprehensible or more bearable place to live). And it frees us to believe in God for his own sake.

At least that’s what I think he means. See what you think:

[W]hoever does not think God for his own sake has not yet begun to think God at all. To think God without joy in God is a self-contradiction which must lead even the most logical proof of God to absurdity. All attempts to prove the necessity of God are therefore so distressing as well as paradoxical, because they can arrive at God only at the end of the process and thus can know him only as the ‘God at the end’. They cannot begin with God, because they do not begin with God for his own sake. But if God is thought for his own sake, on the basis of a joy summoned forth by God himself, then the very act of thinking God is the demonstration of the fact that God is more than necessary.

(God as the Mystery of the World, pp 192-193)

He connects this immediately to Jesus: for we meet God not at the end of a philosophical proof (showing his necessity) but in the midst of his unnecessary, excessive, gracious self-giving in the particularity of a crucified and risen Jewish man.

What do you reckon?