A Complete Set of Answers to a Complete Set of Questions, Embracing the Universal

I came across some passages in a dogmatics textbook recently that pretty well summarize the kind of thoughts that really get the juices flowing in my brain. They are taken from pages 18-20 of volume one of Christian Dogmatics, Carl E Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, editors, published in 1984 by Fortress Press, Philadelphia.

This first passage speaks of the human mind’s “ceaseless pattern of questioning beyond all known limits.”

The human mind is a dynamic structure of inquiry, moving forward in a ceaseless pattern of questioning beyond all known limits. The boundless propensity of the human mind to transcend every given answer represents a thrust toward the infinite mystery of being. The image of God in the human mind (the imago dei) may be interpreted as the orientation of human being(s) toward ultimate reality, toward a complete set of answers to the most complete set of questions, embracing the universal, total, and final future of all things. Theology is ultimately concerned about a total understanding of all that can be understood, because its goal is the knowledge of God, the One who determines the meaning and being of everything that exists.

Shifting back to reality, Braaten/Jenson recognize that, while everyone has the potential to think big thoughts, not everyone does:

This power of the imagination to participate in the realm of the coming future is a structural part of the human mind potentially possessed by all, though many succeed in stifling their capacity to see beyond the end of their nose.

And this final quote points out that thinking big thoughts is not some abstract, philosophical exercise, it has as its goal fitting together all the different “bits and pieces” of our lives into one unifying whole:

A theological statement  is a projection of the imagination that pictures God as the comprehensive unity of all things in their final state of being. Without this theological frame of reference, the unity of life’s meaning falls apart into bits and pieces of experience, and the idea of truth as a whole is broken into fragments and segments of information. Theology can thus be called a “science” in the sense that it makes statements about God who is conceived to be the unifying power, universal meaning, and fulfilling destiny of all things. Without this reference to God, there can be no vision of the whole. Then human confidence in the worthwhileness of life and creation is threatened by a world of facts without values, movement without meaning, process without purpose, journey without goal, and future without promise beyond the prospect of nothingness and death.

Read. Enjoy. React.

3 thoughts on “A Complete Set of Answers to a Complete Set of Questions, Embracing the Universal

  1. This is a great thought inducing post! I specifically like looking for a “complete set of answers to the most complete set of questions, embracing the universal, total, and final future of all things.” It strikes me that there are things about God we can’t understand in this lifetime, but that striving to learn is somehow so fulfilling.

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