I love John Caputo. I have only read four of his book, but one of those was The Weakness of God – and that is a crowned jewel in my library. If you have not read it, you can just check out chapter 4 of What Would Jesus Deconstruct? where he summarizes it in about 7 pages.
I love when he says things like:
The kingdom of God is the rule of weak forces like patience and forgiveness, which, instead of forcibly exacting payment for offense, release and let go. The kingdom is found whenever war and aggression are met with an offer of peace. The kingdom is a way of living, not in eternity, but in time, a way of living with out why, living for the day, like the lilies the field–figures of weak forces–as opposed to mastering and programming time, calculating the future, containing and managing risk. The kingdom reigns whenever the least and most undesirable our favor all the best and most powerful or put on the defensive. The powerless power of the kingdom prevails when ever the one is preferred to the ninety-nine, whenever one loves one’s enemies and hates one’s father and mother while the world, which believes in power, counsels us to fend off our enemies and keep the circle of kin and kind, of family and friends, fortified and tightly drawn.” - The Weakness of God p. 15
All of this has been on my mind lately because of two upcoming events:
- At Soularize (October 18-20 in San Diago) I will get to meet and share the stage with John Caputo at our Homebrewed Christianity live 3-D event.
- I have been editing both the Merold Westphal interview where Tripp asks about Wesphal’s good friend & sparring partner John Caputo as well as the Kevin Corcoran (Church in the Present Tense) interview for the following week. Both are not the biggest fans of what Caputo brings to the table.
In part two of the Westphal interview, Westphal asserts that he finds Caputo’s brand of ‘theology’ a bit like “thin soup”. His thinking (starts in minute 21 and goes to minute 28) is that if the promise of the future is just the logical possibility that the future will be better than the present, that is just wishing. What we need, he says, is a more active speech-act performing God.
He then goes on to say that he doesn’t understand why Caputo continues to call himself a Catholic and then takes it even further to ask why he even calls himself religious! What?
Is this where we are at in Christian theology these days? I hear this line of thinking all the time (albeit not often from someone as renowned as Westphal).
I think that the future is a tough thing to be too dogmatic about. I get Panneberg’s proleptic possibility in his eschatology of hope. But that is hope … which, in my mind, is like one degree removed from wishing. So the acceptable options are a) certianty or b) hope, but anything less confident than that is unacceptable?
I know that Westphal’s thinking is based on much bigger issues than just the future, but it is an odd one to focus on in my opinion.
Let me be clear so that we don’t get off topic. I love reading John Caputo. I don’t just mean on philosophy or about other thinkers. I mean when he talks about Christianity – as a Christian.
I find him both intellectually inspiring and spiritual nourishing. So when somebody calls what he brings to the table ‘thin soup’, I am a bit perplexed.
Normally, I am not one to get defensive – so is it enough to simply say that I disagree with the honorable guest of Episode 114 on this one?