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Faithful Disbelief: Christopher Morse Between Foucault and Barth

Wickware Jr., Marvin E.

"And what do you do?" As a graduate student studying Christian theology in a country that increasingly expects education institutions to focus primarily on the production of tech-savvy laborers, this is quite an awkward question. What role do academic theologians play in this kind of educational system? What is the task of theology in this context? In pursuing answers to these questions, I return to one of the first works on theology I studied, written by one of my first theology professors: Christopher Morse’s Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief. In Not Every Spirit, Morse examines the task of theology (in particular, dogmatics, that field of theology concerned with the faithfulness of claims regarding God), and rehearses the theological work he prescribes. As I will be focusing on the task of theology in this paper, I will engage with the corresponding section of Morse’s book here. Not Every Spirit begins with Morse’s claim that "to believe in God is not to believe in everything." In other words, while the emphasis in some churches may be on what ideas about God or authorities on God are to be believed, such belief necessarily implies a disbelief of other ideas and authorities. Christian faith is, then, a matter of "faithful disbelief."

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Published In
Union Seminary Quarterly Review
Volume
65
Issue
1-2
Pages
59 - 65
Academic Units
Union Theological Seminary
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