Plenipotentiary Theology

Most people who become Atheist aren’t really against the idea of a “Big Other” and, I suspect, are still inclined to think there is some big mystery out there. What Atheism is for these is the rejection of ideas that attach to the idea of the mystery.

Really, I think religion, marriage, politics and everything else should be approached with the idea that the subject is always infinitely remote and that how we understand them is only through our desires about them and the expectations we have for them; all of these being a cloud to their reality but cannot be fully remedied. Seeking to understand them as they are in themselves entails to commitments against static beliefs about them. That means our beliefs should be dynamic because we can’t expect to ever have some final language about them. That means the subject is not replaced with an idol of static belief, which we’ve held in place of the subject. We hold beliefs with respect to how they help us understand the subject in question, but no longer than that.

On that view, we are free to give the subject its proper respect by changing our often misguided ideas we’ve foisted on them; spouses, gods, ideologies, peoples, self and so on.

My use of the label “Plenipotentiary Theology” is a caution to say and remind that we cannot confer onto some mystery an authoritative set of ideas, static or dynamic, without acknowledging we’re being totemic. And given the remoteness of the subject, we’ve assumed for pragmatic reasons, our ideas move us toward and into this mystery but are not at all the mystery itself nor will they ever be. Whatever we would want to be representative of God is not able to capture that which it tries to represent; God. The nature of beliefs with respect to the “Big Other”, then, is akin to “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think on these things.” In other words, our theology is relative to human, aesthetic principles, not lines we discover in the sand as it were, limiting or pointing the way to the end of the subject itself.

The result of being such a Theist is that one becomes Atheist in the very way most Atheists are, save that the perception of some great mystery remains.

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4 thoughts on “Plenipotentiary Theology

  1. Greg Porter says:

    We Christians like to proclaim that’s it’s all about God and God’s glory and honor, but even that is ultimately about us, isn’t it?

  2. Greg Porter says:

    All theology has to be applicable or it is meaningless. It is the meaningfulness of theology, whether we are talking about the here and now or the hereafter, that gives theology its foundation. Whether theology is something initiated by God or something initiated by man, it’s still intimately tied to the human experience.

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