Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another memorable theological proposition

'We have relationships; God is the relations that he has'

Nicholas Lash Believing Three Ways in One God: A Reading of the Apostles' Creed (London: SCM, 1992), 32

By the way, I am simply suggesting that these propositions are memorable, not necessarily agreeable!


At 1/16/2009 4:22 AM, Anonymous Plessey said...

As an inveterate googlifier, I googled this quote and found that following this quote Lash says :
".. God, we might say, is relationship without remainder, which we most certainly are not."

What is "relationship without remainder"?

At 1/19/2009 12:04 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

A great question! Do give his short book a read.

At 1/20/2009 7:57 AM, Anonymous said...

This is why systematic theology gives me a headache. What's the point of saying something like this? I don't see the importance of the distinction or why it matters. Besides, isn't God in relationship with humanity? Does he not "have" this (these) relationship(s)?

At 1/21/2009 11:52 PM, Anonymous Che said...

Sounds like a line out of Hegel; obviously a sound of its own but one very familiar. I'll give it a look-see.

At 1/23/2009 1:08 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Pat, I hear you. Though I would suggest a reading of the little book for a bit of context which may reduce your headache a bit!

Hi Che, certainly Hegel has played a part in the relational approach for some! I'd be interested to see if you find something more specific.

At 1/25/2009 6:54 PM, Anonymous Robin Parry said...

I am not against this 'being-as-relation' view so much as puzzled by it.

"God is relationship without remainder"

I just do not know what that means. Is it meaningless nonsense? Or is it an important point made with heightened rhetoric (as I am inclined to think)? Or is it the plain truth and I am too tied in to western metaphysical traditions?

I guess I would wish to affirm the centrality of relationship to both divine and human identity. So to that extent I agree with the quote you mention (and the one Plessey quotes).

But to suppose that identity can be boiled down to relationship without remainder ... that is where I start thinking, "Huh?"

It is hard not to think in terms of something being in relationship with something else. What is 'relationship' detatched from the somethings that are related?

To say that relationship is central to divine identity is to say that there is no 'something' complete in itself apart from relationship (in God's case this is relationship between the Persons of the Trinity). But similarly there can be no relationship apart from the 'somethings'-in-relation. To say that God IS relationship leave me ... little the wiser as to what has been said.

OK - I know I am confused but Hey! I never did get metaphysics!

At 1/29/2009 12:14 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Robin, well put.

You would enjoy Harriet A. Harris, "Should we Say That Personhood us Relational?" SJT 51 (1998): 214-34


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