Thursday, April 14, 2011

Patrick Miller and the Quote of the Day II

Here, once again, is another astute observation by Patrick Miller in his The Ten Commandments, regarding theological implications of the first and second Commandments:
While in some sense everything about the First and Second Commandments is 'theological,' there is a particular way in which it has a theological impact on the life and faith of the community. While the visual and three-dimensional images are in view, it is possible to create divine images with words and thoughts as well. Thus theologians and clergy may be especially susceptible to idolatry by developing images, theological systems, and constructions of God that objectify the transcendent and make us deceive ourselves into thinking we can see God theologically, with our concepts if not our eyes and hands. In the making of mental images, the Puritans saw a violation of this commandment, and while that may go too far, it is proper caution. The Second Commandment relativizes and criticizes every linguistic image of God--not even 'Father'--be absolute and immune from the hammer of the Second Commandment. It is difficult to work without mental and verbal images.  Scripture itself is full of them. Some are more fruitful than others. The danger is in thinking that somehow the image incorporates the reality, or that is immune from critical scrutiny, or that the theological image is a means of getting one's way with the Deity so imagined. The chief divine imagery of Deuteronomy 4 is a warning that playing with divine images of any sort is playing with fire. Theology is a very dangerous game and always teeters on the brink of idolatry, with the tendency, intentional or not, of seeking to get at God for our well-being and program (italics original, 57-58).

1 comment:

Sofa Politician said...

Theology, when properly done, should always lead to doxology.

Also, we should not think that we can ever study God. It is the other way around, which is why using a mirror to describe scripture is also very appropriate.