Resourcing Progressive Christians

Personal God or People?

Bernard Brandon Scott doesn’t need a personal God — he needs people…

“I get people who say, ‘Well, don’t you need a personal God?’ I don’t have a problem with God language; I have a problem with the reification of God language. God language is the way we talk about these ultimate values, for me. I don’t need a personal God. I DO need other people to relate to — and it’s that relationship with other people that is God. Now, that won’t pass the creedal test, but I’m not worried.”

Vocabulary note:

“Reification” = from Latin res “thing” + facere “to make.” Reification can be loosely translated as “thing-making;” the turning of something abstract into a concrete thing or object.

Also known as concretism (or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness), reification is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a concrete thing something which is not concrete, but merely an idea. For example: if the phrase “fighting for justice” is taken literally, justice would be reified.

 — adapted from Wikipedia

Brandon ScottBernard Brandon Scott is Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary in Oklahoma. He is a charter member of The Jesus Seminar, co-chair of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, and a consultant to the American Bible Society experimental film translations. He is the author of a number of books, including Re-Imagine the WorldHear Then the Parable, and The Trouble with Resurrection. 

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