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Becoming Present: An Inquiry into the Christian Sense of the Presence of God (Studies in Philosophical Theology) [Paperback]

Becoming Present: An Inquiry into the Christian Sense of the Presence of God (Studies in Philosophical Theology) [Paperback]

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Item description for Becoming Present: An Inquiry into the Christian Sense of the Presence of God (Studies in Philosophical Theology) by Ingolf U. Dalferth...

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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Item Specifications...


Studio: Peeters
Pages   291
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 2006
Publisher   Peeters
ISBN  904291727X  
ISBN13  9789042917279  


Availability  0 units.


More About Ingolf U. Dalferth


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ingolf U. Dalferth (DrTheol, University of TUbingen) is Danforth Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. He is also professor emeritus in the faculty of theology at the University of Zurich, where he directed the Institute of Hermeneutics and Philosophy of Religion for many years. Dalferth is the author or editor of over forty books, including Crucified and Resurrected.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General



Reviews - What do customers think about Becoming Present: An Inquiry into the Christian Sense of the Presence of God (Studies in Philosophical Theology)?

How Christians May Experience God  Jan 10, 2007
Becoming Present: An Inquiry into the Christian Sense of the Presence of God by Ingolf U. Dalferth (Studies in Philosophical Theology: Peeters) 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 dif¬ferent 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 par¬ticular 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.

Excerpt: The practice and tradition that will be explored in the following is the Christian faith, and my focus will be on its sense of the presence of God.
It should be clear from what has been said so far that there is no Christian faith in the singular. It is a living faith, and every living faith is not only one among many other faiths, religions, world-views or life practices but also exists only as a plurality of views, understandings and interpretations of itself and its world embedded in specific practices. As a living faith the practices, beliefs, forms and institutions of the Christian faith vary considerably with the contexts and cultures in which it is lived, and they take on a different character with the emphasis they give to specific aspects in distinguishing themselves from other practices, beliefs, forms and institutions in a given culture. Just as Christian faith is only one in a plurality of faiths, so it exists only as a plurality of >interpretations< embedded in practices that differ considerably from place to place and through time and history. Thus to unfold the Christian faith in a Christian perspective in order to make its views and convictions accessible to public debate necessarily means to unfold a particular view of the Christian faith in a Christian perspective under
stood in a particular way -- hopefully a possible one, but hardly the only possible one, and hopefully one that is convincing, or at least less unconvincing than others. But just as I shall argue from within a Christian perspective in exploring the Christian sense of the presence of God, so I shall argue within my perspective on the Christian perspective. If I fail to convince, then shortcomings of my view of the Christian faith are not to be mistaken for shortcomings of the Christian faith. There is always room and, indeed, need for better arguments.
It should also be clear from the outset that the Christian sense of the presence of God on which I shall focus also does not come in the singu¬lar but only in the plural, and this for a variety of reasons. As a sense of the presence of God or, more vaguely, as a sense of divine presence, it is the sense of individual persons and particular religious communities and it shows in the specific ways in which they orient and live their lives. And as a sense of the presence of God it is tied to particular religious traditions and practices in which the divine is understood as God, and God is understood and worshiped in particular ways. Even where it is claimed that this sense is common to all human beings in one way or other, this claim is made from within a particular religious practice and tradition and it can be understood, assessed and evaluated in its force only by taking the perspective and convictions of this practice and tradition into account. The sense of the presence of God is always a specific sense of divine presence or, in the so-called monotheistic religions, a Jewish or Christian or Moslem sense of the presence of God; and since each of these religious traditions is itself pluriform, even the Christian sense of the presence of God comes in more than one way. Just as there is not the sense of the presence of God, so there is not the Christian sense of the presence of God.
However, in all its varieties the Christian sense of the presence of God individualizes, i.e. transforms particular human beings into indi¬vidual persons. When it dawns upon me that I live in the present, and can become present to my present, because God becomes present to me, I begin to realise my infinite dignity and uniqueness of being singled out by God. God becomes present to me as my God or God for me and places me as his singled-out creature in the presence of my creator. This marks me off from my physical, communal and personal environments but also relates me to them as one who is meant to live his life in this world in the presence of God. To God's becoming present I owe (1) my presence in this world (my existence rather than non-existence), i.e. the fact of being and the possibility of becoming present to others; (2) my life in this present (my life as a persons rather than something else), i.e. the possibility of relating to the present, the past and the future as a self; and (3) the occasion of becoming present in and to my present (living my life as present in the present), i.e. the possibility of not just being present to someone but, by becoming present to my being present to someone, experience my presence open to the presence of the other.
This heightened or intensified sense of presence also occurs with the Christian sense of the presence of God. I become aware of God's presence by becoming aware of how God becomes present to my presence. I cannot do so without realising how the divine Other breaks into my life and fundamentally changes its direction and orientation by opening it up for possibilities which I didn't see or expect before. Thus my sense of the presence of God discloses the infinite importance given to my contingent individual human life coram deo for no reason whatsoever. This not only places me in a new perspective which opens up a new understanding of my life, myself and everything else but in doing so requires me to live differently and to sort out the acceptable from the unacceptable in the light of the presence of God in all areas of my life.
So the sense of the presence of God does not just leave everything as it is or accept just any diversity or difference as something to be welcomed. On the contrary, it originates with a very specific change in a life and it manifests itself in very specific changes of a life: The Christian sense of the presence of God is a sense of the change of direction of a life in and through the presence of God. It is the becoming aware of how God becomes present to a life by opening it up for the possible and the new in unexpected and unforeseeable ways. This awareness places a person in a new perspective in which everything is seen and judged in the light of the presence of God, including one's own seeing and judging it.
The sense of the presence of God, therefore, does not directly disclose a divine reality (as the Calvinist sensus divinitatis is sometimes mistakenly understood) but rather displaces or dislocates persons from their given ways of life and relates them in a new way to reality, to themselves, to others and to God by disclosing their whole life to be a
life lived in the presence of God. In this way the sense of the presence of God is not an additional sense alongside our other senses but a becoming aware of a change of one's life in all its dimensions from a mode of life in which God's presence is ignored (non-faith) to a mode of life which no longer can continue to do so (faith). It is a sense that dislocates and reorients human lives in ways that are specific to each life in which they occur. It is always first and foremost my sense of the presence of God because it changes the direction of my life in a particular way. Whether and in which way it does or can become a common sense always remains to be seen.
 

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