Can Models of God Compete?
Though the very task of modeling God implies that the reality of God is to some degree unknown, there are a variety of positions one may take concerning the degree to which a model is informed by God’s reality. In this essay, I define four possible positions from which one might approach the construction of religious models: mysteriosophy, theopoetics, optimistic realism, and reticent realism. Of these four, I propose that reticent realism is the most advantageous method for constructing models of God. Reticent realism simultaneously assumes that our models are able, in principle, to refer to a divine reality, but must do so with a tentative stance. Absolute confirmation or universal consensus concerning the accuracy of the models will likely never be obtained. Reticent realism entails that models of God can and should be judged better or worse, though a single winning model must remain an eschatological hope.
KeywordsReligious Experience Optimistic Realism Religious Language Universal Consensus Phenomenological Hermeneutic
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