Becoming Present: An Inquiry Into the Christian Sense of the Presence of God

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Peeters Publishers, 2006 - Philosophy - 291 pages
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Safeguarding the distinction between God and world has always been a basic interest of negative theology. But sometimes it has overemphasized divine transcendence in a way that made it difficult to account for the sense of God's present activity and experienced actuality. Deconstructivist criticisms of the Western metaphysics of presence have made this even more difficult to conceive. On the other hand, there has been a widespread attempt in recent years to base all theology on (religious) experience; the Christian church celebrates God's presence in its central sacraments of baptism and Eucharist; and recent process thought has re-conceptualised God's presence in panentheistic terms. This is the background against which this book outlines a theology of the Christian sense of the presence of God. The first chapter traces the rise and fall of rational religion in Modernity and argues that we should replace philosophical theism not by a unspecified religious sense of the whole but by a specific sense of the presence of God. The second chapter analyses the notion of divine presence and outlines different ways of understanding the real presence of God. The third chapter discusses the problem of whether and how God's presence can be discerned - given the fact that there is no presence of God that is not tinged by God's absence. Chapter four distinguishes various modes of divine presence with their corresponding modes of (human) apprehension. Chapter five takes up the charge that presence is an impossibility in a critical discussion of the debate between Derrida and Marion about the (im)possibility of gift. Chapter six asks how God's presence is conceived and communicated, looking in particular to music as a means of representing and communicating the awareness of God's presence. The final chapter outlines how the sense of the presence of God can be presented and defended in a world of many religions and cultures with their often conflicting religious convictions and representations.
 

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Contents

FROM THE SENSE OF THE WHOLE
1
REAL PRESENCE
33
Steiners Wager on God
43
Presence in Analytical Theories of Time
52
Presence as SelfPresence
58
The Mode of Presence
64
Gods Presence
75
Real Presence as Salvific Presence
85
Divine Omnipresence and Omniscience
164
Divine Love and Omnipotence
166
THE GIFT OF GODS PRESENCE
169
The Impossibility of the Gift
173
The Unavoidability of the Gift
176
Save the Phenomena or Phenomenology?
179
The Interference of the World
182
Beyond the World of Phenomena
183

DISCERNING GODS PRESENCE
95
A Presence Felt?
108
Limits ofWhatWe Can Discern Ill 6 Experiential and Intellectual Modes of Apprehension
116
Perceiving God?
120
Can We Discern Gods Presence?
126
Discerning God
129
Discerning the Difference
132
MODES OF DIVINE PRESENCE
137
Gods Twofold Presence and Activity
140
Modes of Divine Activity
145
Modes of Divine Presence
152
Gods Creative Presence
157
Gifts as Social Phenomena
188
Gifts as Hermeneutical Phenomena
190
Gifts as LifeWorld Phenomena
192
Being Given
195
Basic Passivity
198
REPRESENTING GODS PRESENCE
211
Religious Communication
242
CONFLICTING REPRESENTATIONS
253
Bibliography
273
Name Index
287
Copyright

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