The Humanity of Divinity
This essay is a modest effort to reflect upon the peculiar way in which the
study of divinity makes humanists of us all. In what sense does the proper subject of Christian theology include humanity? How is it that disciplined reasoning concerning God leads us to no less disciplined reasoning concerning human beings? And what, if anything, do the kinds of answers we give to such questions as these mean for what we think about the character of Christian theology as an intellectual discipline? Two theologians in particular will help us in the effort to explore such questions: John Calvin and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Both Calvin and Bonhoeffer—in their own time and in their own way—saw clearly that students of Christian theology may neither avoid nor begrudge asking and answering the Psalmist’s question, "
What are human beings that you, Lord, are mindful of them, mortals that you should care for them?" (Ps 8:4). And both agreed that the subject of divinity itself requires that this question, i.e., the question of humanity, be on the docket. Over decades of theological research and committed teaching at Union Theological Seminary, Christopher Morse has invited his students to discern in particular the abiding provocation and salutary instruction to be had from critical and creative engagement with the legacies of both these theologians. I offer these few remarks as but a faint echo and brief footnote to his own gainful service to the churches, from which I myself have received much.
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- September 16, 2015