The Folly Of God | Reflections & Notes

John D. Caputo. The Folly Of God: A Theology of the Unconditional. Polebridge Press, 2016.

Richard M. Allen of Religious Theory review; CRI article by Hank Hanegraaff; Currents in Catholic Thought review; Derek Rishmawy review.


I have considered–through personal contemplation and communal observation–the concept of “God” to be on retreat in recent years in the face of a modern, enlightened, scientific, and secularized culture. Many in this era have also confessed a “deconstruction,” of sorts, the dismantling of ideas, concepts, beliefs, and perceptions of the divine, and all that comes with it. The crashing of that wall, for many, has been really frightening, especially when it is the wall upon which your faith stands. It is into that collapse that Caputo speaks, and does so, not by reconstructing the rubble, but by celebrating the open space now created by a missing wall. The Folly of God invites us to walk through.

Fundamentally, Caputo is proposing that which cannot be deconstructed, that which cannot be categorized, that which cannot “exist.” It could be perceived as some sort of “theological/philosophical judo,” to simply avoid scrutiny. I consider it to be honest, for within what other classification could “God” even exist?

While Caputo’s propositions will not be for everyone, and the categories he uses will take some time to get used to, his voice is one of the few that are attempting to advance a new understanding of theology in the face of many retreats. He does so unconditionally, without apology, persistently, and insistently.

Some will be tempted to ask whether or not I accept or believe in Caputo’s “God.” This is yet another vestige of the old theologies, the residue of a time that is quickly passing by. My reply would be simple. Let it insist upon you. See what happens.


Introduction: The interests of Theology

Conceding the high ground to the other side–let’s call that “high theology,” theology that can have no higher interest than God–my contention is that theology has deeper interests than God. We could call the opposing tendency “deep theology” but I prefer to call it “radical theology,” meaning getting down in the dirt and digging down into the roots of theology. (1)

So when it comes to God and theology, to thinking about God, let us get our bearings right from the start: where there is height, I head for the depths; where there is a show of strength, I prefer weakness. Instead of high and mighty, we radical theologians seek the deep and weak! If we want to change theology–or anything else–change the metaphors. (2)

To put it rather pointedly, does the kingdom of God need God? Or might the opposite be the case, that God needs the kingdom of God? (3)

I am proposing instead to follow the way of weakness and non-being all the way to the end. My claim is that a theology of the unconditional is where a theology of the cross leads; it is the way to follow the way of the cross. … The line between a fool and a hero has always been notoriously thin. (5)

To the pious, who prefer their God to come on high and lay low their enemies with miracles and magic, I propose a scandal, and to the classical theologians, who prefer a theology that provides proofs and propositions about a Hyper Being with Super-Powers aplenty, I propose a fool’s logic, theologia as morologia, the foolish nonsense (moria) of the unconditional. (5)

1. God Is Not a Supreme Being

…the best interests of theology are to be found deep down int he depths of our experience. (7)

I insist that everything in theology is to be measured by depth, not height. (8)

As my favorite theologian Paul Tillich put it, the concept of the “existence of God”–of the highest entity or existent, as an identifiable somebody or something–is “half-blasphemous and mythological.” It is something like the ancients treating thunder as a god, or the sun, or nowadays imagining a global rapture. (8)

God is no object for us as subjects. He [sic–it was 1946] is always that which precedes this division. But, on the other hand, we speak about him and we act upon him, and we cannot avoid it, because everything which becomes real to us enters the subject-object correlation. Out of this paradoxical situation the half-blasphemous and mythological concept of the “existence of God” has arisen. And so have the abortive attempts to prove the existence of this “object.” To such a concept and to such attempts atheism is the right religious and theological reply. [Tillich, Theology of Culture, 25.]

…the time has come for theology to come up with a new grammar, new directions and a new sense of orientation, a new theo-global positioning system. The Supreme Being causes supreme problems… (9)

…what I am calling radical theology. (10)

Whatever we call it, the future of theology lies in getting past this idea of God as the highest being and, since we cannot get higher, since classical “high” theology claims the high ground, the very highest, we have to dig deeper, down to the roots. Radical theology starts by bidding adieu to God, adeu á Dieuas the ens supremum. (10)

Theology Begins with Atheism

So we start this little book with a bit of folly, with a paradox: that it is in the best interests of theology to say that God does not exist; that the real interest of theology is not God; that what is needed to get theology going, to get it in gear, is atheism. (10)

I am not trying to discourage freedom of thought. On the contrary, as thinkers, we reserve the right to ask every question, but (11) not every question is a good question. The best response to some questions is not to answer them but to question the question–like whether such a Supreme Being exists or not. (12)

Ground of Being

It is half-blasphemous and mythological to think of God as a mover who moves things (the first or “prime mover,” of course), or the agent who does things, the “first cause” of all things. God is instead the infinite and inexhaustible ground in which all such distinctions and processes take place, in which all things have their being. God is not something or someone (neither he nor she nor it) doing something, like causing or making or even choosing to be (14) the ground, nor in a more hands-off way supervising their production from afar and directing it wisely to an end. (15)

We should resist concluding at this point, as we might well be tempted, that Tillich is thus a “pantheist,” that his atheism criticizes theism in the name of pantheism. He is not saying that God is anything and everything but that God is the ground of anything and everything. Just as God is not any one being or thing, neither is God the sum total of all beings or things. (15)

panentheism. (15)

2. The Unconditional

All we can say is that something is going on in and under the name (of) “God,” something deep down in God, something that gives us no rest, that drives us on, and that that is where the true interests of theology lie. Something deeper is urging us to think beyond the limits of what we have thought and imagined so far. Something is pushing us past the limits, telling us to go where we cannot go, to do what cannot be done, to desire with a desire beyond desire–and so forth. (21)

Joining Forces with Deconstruction

Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

Apophatic means saying something while taking back what you said, erasing the traces of what you say as you say it. It is a rhetorical trope, a very handy one that you can also use to your advantage, as when you say, “modesty prevents me from claiming credit for this fortunate turn of events,” which of course you just did by saying you did not. So I agree to say that deconstruction is my methodology only under protest. (22)

In deconstruction, everything proceeds from the dual premise that:

  1. All of our beliefs and practices, institutions and traditions, arts and sciences, all the bells and whistles as well as the basic equipment of culture, are constructions.
  2. Whatever has been constructed is deconstructible–in just the way that Aristotle said that whatever comes to be also passes away–so that, if anything is not deconstructible that is only because it has not been constructed yet. (23)

To say things are constructed is to say they are formed or forged–a word with a wonderful ambiguity, meaning both shaped and fake–in space and time. That does not mean a construction is not real; it just means that its reality is made, not found. (23)

The Deconstructible

To be deconstructible means to be reformable or transformable, which is to use the language of form (morphe) [μορφη] that goes back to Aristotle and is favored by Catherine Malabou (1959-) (24)

To be deconstructible means to be inventible, reinventible, and even (up to a point) preventable, which is of course the language of the “event” employed by Derrida. (24)

Unities are derived effects and their origin is non-unitary and in that sense non-originary according to the classical model of origin, which is always one or simple. A meaning, a belief, a practice, an institution is an effect of the systems that produce meanings, beliefs, practices, and institutions. That is why a word–even a word like “God”–a work of art, or an institution (like religion) do not have a meaning but a history of ever shifting meanings. (25)

James Joyce proposed a felicitous formulation of the way around too much order (cosmos) and too little (chaos) with the magnificent locution “chaosmos,” which we might describe as an optimal state of disequilibrium, adding just the right dash of madness to get an optimized dis/order, in/stability, an/archy, which is deconstruction in a nutshell. (28)

The Undeconstructible

To any given deconstruction there is a corresponding undeconstructible. (28)

[via: This feels like myth, that there is such a thing as “the undeconstructible.” A) This is not true, and B) This is a construct, a hope in some sort of objectivity…?]

Generally, when something is deconstructed, we should greet it as “good news” and be grateful, even if sometimes it leaves us standing on our beds in the middle of the night all atremble. (30)

The Protestant Principle and the Jewish Principle

Democracy is never here, even in the existing democracies. Democracy is always coming, like a Messiah who never shows up but who keeps on disturbing us int he middle of the night with the promise/threat of his coming. (33)

So conceived, deconstruction does not propose an ontology of what exists, a metaphysics of what is present, but a certain “hauntology” of what is spooking us, of voices coming back from the dead, or luring us from the future, calling from who knows where, calling upon and disturbing us in the night. When we awake, bolt upright in our bed, looking all around, we are sure there was someone in the room. We are certain we heard someone say something. (33)

The way I am wont to put this mater these days is to say that the unconditional does not exist; it insists. (34)

We might even say that the unconditional is in-finite, not because it is an infinite being or existent–the unconditional does not exist at all; it insists–but because it is un-finished. (34)

3. Proto-Religion

In a haunto-theology, we live lives of hope–in the hint of the promise of what is to come, of what is being called for–including the promise of the past, the promise of what has been handed down to us by the past. We live lives of faith–in the unforeseeable, in the coming of what we cannot see coming. And, not least, we live lives of love–of the unconditional, of the undeconstructible, which we desire with a desire beyond desire, with a very agapaic eros or erotic agape. (35)

The Pure Folly of a Proto-Religion

If we ask Tillich where are theology and religion found, where is their subject matter, in what are they interested, the answer is not up above, in the heavens, but down here in the culture. But a theology of culture does not mean applying theology as a prior and independent enterprise to culture, but that theology is a theology of culture, an analysis of the depth dimension in culture, of what is deepest about our culture, our cultural lives, our beliefs and practices, ourselves. (40)

Two Examples

Life does not lose its depth if people walk away from religion; in fact, many times, it is necessary to protecting life against religion. (41)

Their music wasn’t going to keep the ship afloat. Any fool could have told them that. But they were saying to everyone who could hear, this is what life will have been; this foolishness is why we live in the first (42) place. (43)

…the name (of) “God” is one of the ways we give words to the unconditional, one of the ways that the unconditional happens in our lives. The name (of) “God” is a conditioned effect in various natural languages which contains something unconditional, which of course it cannot contain (limit). But it is not the only way. (46)

4. How Long Will Religion Last?

The Priests Always Have Good News

The priests, he [Jacques Lacan (1901-81)] says, have an explanation for everything. No matter how grim the forecast; no matter how bloody, terrible, and unjust the past; no matter how murderous the world may become, the priests have an answer. (47)

…psychoanalysis will always lose while the comforting story told by the priests will always win. Religion, the God of religion, Lacan thinks, will last as long as we greet the future with fear and anxiety, which for him means forever. I think his prediction is cynical but nevertheless not a bad one. (48)

But are there any good reasons for religion, or for God, to be a bit more exact, for what is going in the name (of) “God,” to live on? Might there be a religion that deserves to last and has nothing to do with winning? (48)

Is Religion Worthy of Lasting?

So the question, Will religion last? should be reformulated, Is religion worthy of lasting? (50)

Either way, with or without what has been called religion in the usual sense, I can see a theology in the future which would be a theology of the future, a theology of hope, a theology-to-come and a generation of coming theologians, who would make up a proto-religion of the unconditional promise, which is a way to say, even to pray, “come” to the coming of what we cannot see coming, which is risky business. (51)

Let us pray like mad for religion and theology and for God! Let us pray for a theology-to-come, for a kingdom-to-come, as a realm of endless open-endedness, of endless exposure, to the possibility of the impossible. (52)

5. In Praise of Weakness

What I mean by weakness requires a considerable courage, …the “courage to be.” (53)

Weak Thought

…the worst violence ensues, not from hermeneutics, but from resisting hermeneutics, as when someone confuses (their) conditionals with the unconditional, which pretty much comes down to someone who confuses himself with God, which weak thought hopes to discourage on the grounds that it is a very dangerous illusion. (55)

A Weak Messianic

Justice is always calling, always pealing and appealing, always to-come. Justice is like a coming Messiah who never quite shows up, not so long as we live in time and history, not so long as there is a future, and when is there not? (57)

The Weakness of God

Weakness All the Way Down

…forgiveness, which is folly in the light of the world’s wisdom, a weak force whose power lies in the power of abdicating power, abdicating retaliation–no footstools–which we might call the power of powerlessness. The power of forgiveness is the utterly disarming power of responding to a wrong done to us not with retribution but with forgiveness. What is that if not madness and folly? (61)

Derrida distinguishes between an invitation, in which we lay down in advance the conditions of a visit, from a visitation, in which someone uninvited shows up, knocking at our door, which is an unconditional call. This unconditional hospitality, like unconditional forgiveness, is much more reminiscent of the unruly rule in the kingdom of God pictured in the parables and sayings of Jesus, which seems like pure folly to the world. (63)

6. Weakening the Being of the Supreme Being

Weakening the Ground of Being

…here I must bid adieu to the God of Tillich and depart from my point of departure. For Tillich, to speak of the ground of being is still to speak of the power of God but in another way, by relocating God’s power from a transcendent entity to an underlying force. (67)

If our constant claim is that it is in the best interests of theology to avoid the Supreme Being, the high and mighty God, and to drain the cup of God’s weakness and folly, then it is also in our interest to take the next step, to avoid the relocation of high and mighty discourse to the realm of the “deep.” (68)

Muting Mystical Theology

But–and this is the next step–neither is God the hyper-being, the hyperousios of mystical theology. (69)

So if we speak of God in the highest, mystical theology will un-speak that and say that the God beyond God is higher than any height; and if we speak of the depths of God, mystical theology will unsay that by saying the Godhead of God is deeper than any depth. It has various locutions, all quite brilliant: God is being in a higher way, eminentiore modo; or as Meister Eckhart says in his Latin works, God is the puritas essendi, meaning both the purity from being and the purity of being, being in its purest, beyond and without being. (69)

But in a theology of the unconditional, when we speak of the groundless, we are not praising anything, and when we are silent, it is because we remain radically disoriented, not knowing which way to turn, not because we are resonating with the mystery of the hyper-being. (70)

7. A Theology of Perhaps

Proofs of the non-existence of God are every bit as much hot air as proofs for God’s existence; each would keep the balloons of metaphysics aloft indefinitely. (74)

Incredulity about the Supreme Being

It’s just that such a belief in a being such as the Supreme Being is making itself more and more unbelievable with every passing day. You can believe it if you want, but the result is fideism, believing something that makes you feel safe, including feeling safe that no one can really prove you wrong. You may think that that the unconditional would have an easier time of it if it had the existence of God to back it up, and you can believe that if you want, it’s a free country, but you will buy yourself a host of problems. (74)

1) If there is a Supreme Being up there, the result is to demean everything that is precious in life (unconditional) by inserting it into an economy of rewards and punishments (conditions). (74)

The religion of the Supreme Being runs on the same principles, but in religion you do not ever get to quite grow up–the whole of life “in time” is a spiritual childhood lived with the hope of eternal rewards and the fear of eternal punishments. It undermines the possibility of acting unconditionally. (75)

2) If there is a Supreme Being up there, then he (I am unapologetic about his gender in this case) will be so high and mighty that we will be able to know little or nothing about him unless he reveals himself to us. (75)

3) If there is a Supreme Being up there, an agent capable of creating a cosmic order, of performing miracles and wondrous (75) works, of intervening on behalf of the persecuted, of stopping the evil ones in their tracks, then you will have a devil of a time, if I may put it that way, explaining why the Supreme Being does what he does, does not do what we fervently hoped he would do, or seems to be standing by idly, arms folded, watching us go under for the third time while the evil ones are having a great party up on their yachts. (76)

Suffice it for the moment to say that, in weak or radical theology, we do not seek to disprove the existence of a Supreme Being; we just greet it with the sustained incredulity it has earned for itself. (77)

A Theology of Perhaps

In addition to avoiding the hypostatization, the personification, the mythologization, we must also avoid the ontologization. The folly of God is that God does not exist. God insists, but God does not exist. So steer clear of the interminable and bombastic wars between the theists and the atheists and pay quiet heed to the phenomenon, to the event, to the unconditional, as maddeningly elusive as it may be. (78)

The unconditional is a homeless, uncanny sort of thing or nothing that does not inhabit the house of being. It is not the subject matter of a panentheistic metaphysics (which we distinguished from “pantheism” back in chapter 1). It is not God’s life on earth as the Absolute Spirit (Hegel) but rather something more spectral (78) that gives us no peace. It is not Divine Providence transcribed into space and time but a more radical roll of the dice, a promise/threat, where the risk runs all the way down, where the folly is to follow the risk all the way without turning back. The unconditional is not inserted within a reassuring dialectic of finite and infinite such that the infinite is working itself out in finite ways. The unconditional in Derrida is not infinite being, not being itself, not the being of beings, not a hyper-being, but something otherwise and elsewhere, an infinitival in-finite, a to-come, a messianic promise (without a Messiah), a figure of hope against hope–how foolish is that?–in the coming of something that we cannot see coming, which may turn out to be a disaster. If the unconditional is a possibility resonating in the present, the stirring of an event, it is so only as the coming of the unforeseeable, a memory of the immemorial. The unconditional is not merely a means of admitting our frailty, fallibility, and finitude in the face of the infinite; it is a more radical confession or circumfession that the unforeseeability of the future, the coming of what we cannot see coming, goes all the way down, overtaking God as well as us, which is where the folly is found. (79)

The death of God for Tillich (not for the post-Tillichians) would be an absurdity, a contradiction in terms. Death reaches as far as individual finite beings, but it cannot lay a glove on the infinite, inexhaustible ground of being. Non-being can never overtake being itself; death can never reach as far as life itself. (79)

…an irreversible entropic dissipation… (80)

[via: I call this “theological entropic heat death.”]

The name of God is the name of the chance of an event. The kingdom of God is the name of the realm where the event pays a unexpected call upon us, waking us in the middle of the night with a loud rapping at our door. (81)

8. The Folly of the Call

God’s Promise

The Folly of the Call

It insists; we exist. The existence of our response is the only way the insistence of the call acquires existence or makes an appearance in the world. For all the world, to everyone else in the world, we are dancing to music they do not hear, which makes us look like fools. (92)

9. Mustard Seeds Not Metaphysics: The Theopoetics of the Kingdom of God

I claim that the discourse on the kingdom of God proclaimed in the gospels takes the form of a poetics which theology itself accordingly is duty bound to observe. (93)


…by a poetics I mean a collection of metaphors, metonyms, narratives, allegories, songs, poems, and parables, indeed an assembling of all the rhetorical strategies we can summon, in order to address the event. (94)

Theology seeks to figure out God as best it can. Theopoetics seeks to find a figurative means to express what is happening to us under the name of God. (95)

Hegel’s Vorstellung

…the standard religious conception of God as the Supreme Being, as a powerful agent, a doer of miraculous deeds, is what he called a Vorstellung. (96)

Metaphysics Not Mustard Seeds

There is an unconditional version of the unconditional. (101)

Quit When You’re Ahead

Metaphysics for me is always driving under the influence, an idea running out of control, and it is bound to crash, thereby posing a danger to itself and others. In its place I put a hermeneutics of experience, where we are exposed to contingency and deep unforeseeability, just where Hegel had put a classical theology still under the spell of Aristotle, where things are ultimately (103) guided by an underlying necessity and Providential guidance, where the unconditional finds a place–philosophy–where it can think itself unconditionally. (104)

So in the place of Hegel’s Concept and of Tillich’s ground of being I put the inconceivable, unprogrammable event, the coming of what we cannot see coming, the hope in a future we also hope won’t be a disaster, and a considerable postmodern incredulity about saying anything more. We defer all absolute knowledge, absolute concepts, absolute spirits; we call for adjourning the meeting of the Department of Absolute Knowledge, sine die. In the place of the pretensions of metaphysics we put an unpretentious poetics, the various and irreducibly plural ways we have of giving figure and form to our experience of the unconditional, of giving it narratival and pictorial form, in words and images, striking sayings and dramatic scenes, which is what we mean by a theopoetics of the folly (104) of God. Religion is a song to the unconditional, a way to sing what lays claim to us unconditionally. But as to identifying what the unconditional is, if it is, we beg to be excused. This is a hermeneutics where nobody has the key, the code, the legendum. Art, religion, and philosophy–and science and ethics and politics and everyday life, everything that is going on in the culture at large–are so many ways to negotiate with the underlying eventiveness of life, of life in time, in life as time, so many ways to inhabit the space between the conditional and the unconditional. (105)

Theopoetics is not a science of presence or of something present, but a poetics of the unconditional. It is not an ontology but a hauntology. Theopoetics concerns something that has no proper name, since names are nominatives, while a poetics gives words to something coming, something infinitival, which means every nominative must be recast in the mode of the to-come, like a democracy-to-come–or a God-to-come. (106)

The Kingdom of God

In the scriptures, the folly of God goes under the name of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God describes what the world would look like when the event that lays claim to us in and under the name of the God holds sway. (107)

The gospels are the theopoetics of the call, a felicitous message, good news–not a news report. They are songs sung to the memory and the promise of Yeshua, to the coming again of the one who has already come once, and their penultimate line is “come” (Rev 22:20), songs sung to the kingdom whose coming he proclaimed. It is a simple literary mistake, a basic hermeneutical error, to treat them as attempts to accurately reproduce past history; it is a simple historical mistake, an anachronism, to treat them as biographies in the modern sense. They are not historical accounts but songs of praise. They are not recording past history, but singing about a promise and memory, about a call and a recalling, about an event, and they say “come” to the coming of what they cannot see coming.

| Lucky for them. After all, think about it it did not come, the kingdom–and it did not matter. In fact, nobody thought to write anything down until it began to dawn on them that what is coming will be a long time coming (and we’re still waiting). Indeed, what we call “Christianity” depends upon its not coming, upon the deferral of the coming–until God knows when! (107)

…the early Christians were waiting for Jesus but what they got (107) instead was the church! (attributed to Abbé de Loisy (1857-1940) (108)

Forty years after Yeshua announced the coming of the kingdom and the year of the Jubilee, the Temple was destroyed, the Jews were scattered, and the rule of Rome was firmer than ever. That is the perfectly good reason that the Jews were less than convinced that Yeshua was the long awaited Messiah. That means either that the gospels are based upon a terrible miscalculation and we have to crunch the numbers one more time–or that Jubilee is not a matter of calculation and mathematical accuracy. (108)

The gospels are no more a set of predictions about the future than they are a journal of the past; they are a song to the event, a song celebrating the event. They are a poetics, a theopoetics, of the event that lays claim to us unconditionally under the name of God. (108)

10. Does the Kingdom of God Need God?

The “kingdom” of God means God’s “rule” (basileia, regnum, imperium). It refers to what the world would look like when God is our pilot, when God is at the wheel, when the world is subject to the rule of God, and God makes our enemies our footstools. The problem my hypothesis encounters is that there is no mistaking that kingdom talk is high and mighty talk. The kingdom means that at the opportune time (kairos) God steps in and takes over the controls and the powers and principalities are scattered, brought to their knees, made to rue the day they were ever so foolish as to take on the Almighty. The coming of the kingdom of God means that the tables are turned and it is the world that is made up of fools and God who is holding all the cards.

| Unless it does not.

| Unless the “rule” of God is a kind of divine irony, a holding sway that does not hold with violence and power.

| Unless the business of the kingdom is conducted according to the logic of the cross.

| Unless kingdom is folly from the point of view of the powers that be in the world, just as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1. (111)

Unless the kingdom is foolishness in terms of what counts as a kingdom in the world, like a tiny mustard seed growing into a massive tree. (112)

My claim is that in speaking of the folly of God, of the name (of) “God,” in terms of something unconditional without sovereignty, of a weak force without an army to back it up, of the powerless power of the kiss not of the power of the sword, we are speaking of the kingdom and of God otherwise. We are speaking of another kind of kingdom, a kingdom without a king in the world’s sense, in which the world is subject not to the mighty arm of the Almighty King who has come to settle the accounts of the world, but a kingdom subject to the soft sway of something unconditional without power as the world knows power. (112)

Let Your Kingdom Come

The rule of God rises from within the world; it does not descend upon us from on high. The kingdom of God is within us; it is not a powerful force intervening from without. … The kingdom is always to come but it is not a future state of affairs. It is the solicitation here and now of a form of life, one that has already begun and is already here, already solicits us. (114)

The kingdom is found every time the displaced are given shelter and the hungry are fed, every time the poor are comforted, every time the imprisoned are visited. The kingdom comes here and now, insofar as we live here and now under the weak force of its lure, even as it is always still-to-come. (114)

The rule of God takes place by way of the gentle provocation of a poetics–without a powerful metaphysical theology to back it up; without a Supreme Ruler who dispatches a heavenly host of warrior angels to come to our aid; without an apologetic theology to defend God’s rule against its detractors; and without a world-wide system of divinity schools and seminaries to work out its logic and train and commission its emissaries. The rule of God is more unruly, more disarmed, more like outright folly. (114)

The kingdom takes form in the theopoetics of Yeshua, in the memory and the promise of what he said and did, in his words of unconditional forgiveness, of mercy for the least among us, of freedom for the oppressed, of good news for the poor and the coming year of the jubilee. The kingdom comes by reaching out to the outcasts, sitting down to table with the outsiders, healing the lame and making the blind to see, driving out the demons that possess us all. (115)

The Insistence of the Kingdom

The kingdom does not exist; it insists. The coming of the Kingdom is not to be confused with a past, present, or future-present state of affairs. It is not an existent, past, present, or future. The kingdom does not exist; it calls. The kingdom is the folly of an unconditional call–a call to live unconditionally, to offer unconditional mercy, hospitality, and forgiveness. It would be mythological and half-blasphemous to literalize it as an existent state of affairs, an episode containable in a geographical place and or datable in calendar time. When it comes to the coming of the kingdom, every land is a holy land, and every day a holy day. (117)

We are the ones whom God is waiting for, the ones who have been expected to fill up what is lacking in the body of God, to pick up where God leaves off. We are the ones God needs to supply the insistence of God with existence, to make what is being called for in the kingdom of God come true. (118)

The coming of the kingdom is its coming true in us, in our response. The truth of the kingdom of God is such existence as God enjoys, such existence as the event that insists in the name of God enjoys. (119)

As theology becomes theopoetics, theopoetics becomes theopraxis. (119)

Precious, Perfect Folly

If love has a reason, if it has been entirely relieved of folly, if it all makes good sense, you can be sure what is going on is something other than love. (121)

But religion cannot resist a chance to make a profit. (122)

In a theology of the unconditional, the works of mercy do not earn the reward of the kingdom of God; the works of mercy are the kingdom of God. (124)

The author of Matthew 25 makes nonsense of the folly of God. (125)

Enough Said

The unconditionality of the call is a function of its purity, and the purity of the call is a function of keeping the call pure of existence, maintaining it in its inexistence. (126)

The Messiah is not the name of a Superagent coming to reward and punish. We are the messianic people; we are the ones that the dead have been waiting for. We are the ones that God has been waiting for. We are the ones who are on the spot, called upon, called out, called to act. (127)

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  1. Pingback: Nothing Sacred | Reflections & Notes | vialogue

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