Tag Archives: finitude

Donald MacKinnon on Christ’s assumption of temporal existence

What it was for [Jesus] to be human was to be subject to the sort of fragmentation of effort, curtailment of design, interruption of purpose, distraction of resolve that belongs to temporal existence. To leave one place for another is to leave work undone; to give attention to one suppliant is to ignore another; to expend energy today is to leave less for tomorrow. We have to ask ourselves how far this very conformity to the complex discipline of temporality, this acceptance of the often tragic consequences that spring from its obstinate, ineluctable truncation of human effort, belongs to the very substance of Jesus’ defeat.

from Themes in Theology: The Three-fold Cord, (T&T Clark, 1987), 162-3.

Variations on a theme in theological anthropology

A. Ernest Becker

Men aren’t built to be gods, to take in the whole world; they are built like other creatures, to take in the piece of ground in front of their noses.

from The Denial of Death, (Free Press, 1997), 178.

B. Rowan Williams

Theology must rediscover itself as a language that assists us in being mortal, living in the constraints of a finite and material world without resentment. […]

What we are are our limits, that we are here not there, now not then, took this decision, not that, to bring us here and now. And if this is true, understanding a person is understanding their limits, their materiality. […]

My unity as a person is always out of my field of vision (I can’t see my own face), just as the divine condition for there being fields of vision at all, for there being a world or worlds, is out of my field of vision (I can’t see my own origin).

from “The Suspicion of Suspicion: Wittgenstein and Bonhoeffer,” in Wrestling with Angels, (Eerdmans, 2007), 186, 193.

C. Nicholas Lash

My body is not simply this lump of matter by means of which I communicate with other people. My body is also the world constituted by the personal, social and economic relationships in which I share. These all form part of me. My language, my family, my city, are parts of my body. When I die, it is not merely this lump of matter that dies: the whole network of personal, family and social communications which I formed a part, dies a little too.

from Theology on Dover Beach, (Wipf and Stock, 2005), 174-5.