Theological complexity and the blindness of theory-barbarism in a pastoral hermeneutics : towards the infiniscience of God in processes of hoping and faithful knowing (epistemology)

Louw, Daniel (2016)

CITATION: Louw, D. 2016. Theological complexity and the blindness of theory-barbarism in a pastoral hermeneutics : towards the infiniscience of God in processes of hoping and faithful knowing (epistemology). Scriptura, 115(1):1-19, doi:10.7833/115-0-1289.

The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za

Article

Theory formation in theology is often directed by the rationalistic principle of simplification. In pastoral caregiving, it leads to the tendency to offer instant answers to the very complex notion of ‘meaning in suffering’. In this regard, the question surfaces whether the philosophical construct of ‘theodicy’, and its attempt to link God in some way or another to human suffering, should be introduced as an appropriate, paradigmatic framework for dealing with processes of caregiving and comforting. It is argued that a causative approach of rationalistic explanation and positivistic clarity (the attempt to give a logical answer and establish a direct connection between the will of God and the phenomenon of undeserved suffering) is insufficient to really comfort people in order to hope and to address the human quest for meaning. The notion of complexity and the philosophical construct of ‘chaosmos’ are critically assessed in order to revisit the interplay between the God-factor and the complexity of human suffering in a pastoral hermeneutics. Instead of hope as the projection of easy solutions for the future (wishful thinking and speculative dreaming), the theological paradox of hoping despite the evidence that the future is bleak (hope against hope) is explored by means of the theopaschitic paradigm of a ‘suffering God’. Instead of the omni-categories of an ‘all-powerful God’ (pantokrator), the pathos-category of an ‘infiniscient God’ is proposed in order to deal with chaosmos and complexity in theory formation for a theology of caregiving in suffering.

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