Fortress Press, the publishing house of the ELCA, has a forthcoming book that appears to be a piece of straight-up paganism. Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology–a window, I expect, into the sort of idolatry that passes in some circles for theology.
Now, this is not a book review. I haven’t read the book, and I don’t intend to unless for some unexpected reason it should be relevant to my parishioners; life, they tell me, is short. To all appearances this is the sort of book I should urge people not to buy–we don’t want to reward the publishers for this sort of thing. But do not think I am telling people not to read it; perhaps the book is good for a lark, in an ‘I laugh only to keep from weeping and anathematizing’ sense.
No, what I have to say right now is simply based on impressions, the description of the book to which I have linked. To all appearances, at least, the book is an exercise in idolatry. We have here two ‘theologians’ engaged in a conversation with the goal of dethroning the God revealed in the Bible–the one true God who is indeed transcendent and omnipotent and–to avoid for the moment parsing the relationship of God and gender–consistently refers to Himself with masculine pronouns.
What is God to be replaced with, in the spirituality advocated by the authors? One appears to advocate a feminist panentheism, the other a sort of pantheism. Both are unambiguously pagan ideas.
Of the host of questions and issues that present themselves when we see an ostensibly Christian publishing house producing such a book, I would like to reflect on two:
1. Why on earth should one want to reject God as revealed in Scripture?
It seems that it all has to do with comfort. They reject the God of the Scriptures because He doesn’t meet their perceived notions of who God should be or what will work in the world. The chapter title “Finding a God I Can Believe In” is tremendously forthright about the idolatry being embraced here. ‘I can’t believe in the God who has revealed Himself, so I will construct a God I can believe in.’
2. What, then, is the source of theology?
The blurb gives no indication that they try to build their case on the Scriptures in any meaningful way. Instead, the description indicates that their experiences are the source of their theology: what has my life led me to think and feel is true? Absent from such a hermeneutic is an understanding of the Fall, and the concomitant healthy skepticism about the capacity of the human mind and heart to faithfully understand God apart from His special revelation.
God created us in His image, and we’ve been trying ever since to turn the tables. But all our efforts are vain and less than worthless. We must know God as He truly is, as He has revealed Himself to be, or we will not know Him at all. It is no wonder that the theological method modeled here has led these authors to pagan idolatry.