Metaphorical Theology: An Evangelical Appropriation

I. Introduction

One of the purposes of Christian theology is to make the doctrines of the Christian faith understandable and applicable for the world in which we live. If theology is to fulfill its function it must modify its methods and formulations as the world changes.[1] Theology has always been subject to change, even within the pages of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. The loss of the first and second temples caused a change in Jewish religious practice, which forced a change in their theological construction. The weakness and fall of the Roman Empire caused a significant change in the political aspects of theology in the Roman Church as it took over responsibility for the governance of the city and empire. This union of church and state in Christian theology (within both Catholic and Protestant theology) was severed with the rise of the modern nation state and the growth of religious pluralism. Closer to our own time, postmodernist socially-constructed theories of reality resulted in social models of the Trinity.

Evangelical Christianity has been resistant to change in its theological formulations and methods. Two factors contribute to this resistance. First, evangelicalism has made salvation largely dependant upon correct belief. That is, salvation is attained by accepting and believing the correct doctrines regarding the nature of God, sin and Jesus. Second, evangelicalism has tended to see itself as a return to first-century Christianity. Changing a movement that models itself on an “ideal” form of Christianity can only move it away from that ideal. This attitude is slowly changing with the realization that we cannot recapture first-century Christianity because we are unable to escape the influences of our twenty-first century culture, society and worldview. Evangelicalism must adapt the message of the Christian faith to its contemporary situation.

Two of the greatest challenges facing our world today are the threat the human species poses to the environment and the threat of nuclear holocaust. Both of these issues involve the power humans have to radically endanger life itself on this planet.[2] Evangelical theology must take these issues into account as it attempts to make the Christian faith understandable and relevant for the contemporary world. Specifically, theology must ask itself what role (direct or indirect) it has played in the development of the situation we now face and what impact it will have on these two issues as it attempts to remain relevant.

One way theology could speak in a relevant manner to these pressing issues would be to develop a new understanding of the relationship between God and the world that can transform human attitudes towards nature. [3] Sallie McFague has attempted this in her books “Metaphorical Theology,” “Models of God” and “The Body of God” by outlining a new theological method and a new way of imaging the relationship between God and the world. Traditionally, evangelicalism has looked upon feminist and ecological theologians with a great deal of suspicion, but this paper will examine and appropriate elements from McFague’s theology in an attempt to incorporate them into an evangelical theological perspective that takes into account the environmental and nuclear challenges facing the world today. With this purpose in mind, critique will be accompanied by evaluation with the intent to draw out methodology and insights that could be used within an evangelical theological context.

II. A New Method – Metaphorical Theology

The need to develop a new theological method stems in part from the problems with traditional religious language. McFague believes that religious language has lost its experiential context. The words, concepts and models we use in theology no longer apply to life today. When we no longer experience the world in the same manner as in the past and yet continue to use the same images, religious language becomes irrelevant. One example is that we are no longer ruled by absolute monarchs, so the language of kingship has lost much of the meaning it once had.[4]

McFague’s second problem with traditional religious language is idolatry. She feels we have made language too literalistic in referring to God. Treading a thin line between critical realism and via negativa, McFague proposes that all language about God must be seen as metaphorical. Names and titles like “Father” are metaphors for how we as humans perceive God to act in the world.[5] They say (almost) nothing about God ontologically because we cannot know God in himself, yet we do know that there is a reality behind the metaphors. Using the metaphors we use to describe God (be it father, mother, king or friend) in a literalistic fashion makes an idol of the metaphor: we worship the model of God instead of God. The models traditional Christianity uses to describe God (like father or king) are simply metaphors that have become institutionalized and idolatrous. McFague wants to use metaphorical theology to provide a multiplicity of metaphorical models for understanding God and the relationship between God and the world in ways that are meaningful today.[6]

Metaphorical theology is, in some ways, a thought experiment. It is an attempt to re-mythologize theological language. Using metaphors and images is one way to resist the tendency to make theology ever more abstract and philosophical. Christian theology derives its power to inspire from its use of images and concepts that are taken from everyday life.[7] Of course, using metaphor necessarily introduces the element of “is” and “is not.” Metaphors are not definitions but they relate what we cannot talk about directly (in this case, God) to what we already know and understand. They are grids through which reality is filtered, highlighting some aspects while filtering out others. Thus, the metaphor of God as Mother is not saying that God is a Mother (or even female) but that our image of mother highlights certain characteristics of God (such as love for the world) that fit the metaphor while overlooking other characteristics that do not.[8]

Such a theology, according to McFague, is constructive. It seeks to establish metaphors that refer in a meaningful comprehensive way to a reality that we cannot otherwise understand. However, it must also be recognized that metaphors are never sacred. All metaphors miss the mark in some aspect, and the passing of time renders many metaphors obsolete. So more than simply being constructive, metaphorical theology is heuristic. It experiments with different formulations to find those that are most convincing. It does not accept things based on authority but draws from and expands upon what it finds convincing for the contemporary world. It must not be afraid to fail.[9]

Metaphorical theology uses the resources of scripture and tradition, but it also includes insights from human experience, the natural and social sciences, art, literature and other non-religious sources. The use of models in natural science provided the inspiration for McFague’s metaphorical models. There are areas in science that cannot be described conventionally (particularly in the realm of quantum mechanics), so metaphors that draw on elements we do understand are used to picture that which we cannot.[10]

A significant point that McFague makes repeatedly is that metaphorical theology is metaphorical. It is hypothetical, tentative, partial and open-ended. Its results will not be definitive for all time but are useful only for the time in which they are constructed. Metaphorical theology’s ability to inspire the imagination and spur to action through use of personal imagistic language makes it suitable for this ecological and nuclear age of rapid change and uncertainty.[11]

Critique and Appropriation

Metaphorical theology could prove to be of great use to evangelical theology, if used as one method among many. Imagination is not something that evangelicalism has drawn from in its theological formulations, which has resulted in a rather dry and unappealing image of God. A theology that can produce images of God that resonate with people in real and meaningful ways should be used to the fullest. Metaphorical images have been used by evangelicals, but in a more limited sense than McFague is proposing. One example comes from the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” No one would claim that God is literally a castle, but an impenetrable fortress nestled on the top of a mountain produces an image that conveys graphically and effectively one aspect of God’s nature. A systematic use of metaphorical theology could inspire and motivate evangelicals to think about and understand more clearly the nature and character of God.

Obviously the traditional evangelical understanding of scripture is at odds with McFague’s. We understand the Bible to be inspired and authoritative. It is not merely one source among many but the revelation by which all other sources are measured. This difference of opinion does not make metaphorical theology unusable by evangelicals but is simply a difference in presuppositions that will impact the use and outcome of the method. In fact, a solid doctrine of divine revelation puts evangelical theology in a better position to use metaphorical theology. With the revelation of scripture to fall back upon and measure by, evangelical metaphorical theology will be inherently more certain that the images it utilizes accurately reflects the actual nature of God.[12]

McFague’s rejection of ancient or traditional metaphors for God will not sit well with evangelicals, nor should it. If, as she claims, many models are needed to account for the many characteristics of God, no model should be rejected out of hand. Thus, classical metaphors for God such as king or ruler or judge can continue to be utilized today. Biblical and traditional language about God continues to be meaningful for many people in this day and age, and the fact that it is not meaningful for her is no reason to reject it altogether.[13]

One of the reasons McFague wants to reject the traditional models of Christianity is because of their hierarchical and authoritarian connotations. Her purpose for metaphorical theology is to come up with models for God that are inclusive, nonhierarchical and ecological. There is no doubt that metaphorical theology can be used for this purpose, but it could also be used to reinforce those metaphors that are hierarchical or authoritarian.[14] Metaphorical theology simply provides metaphors for the nature of God that fit the preferences of the theologian who utilizes it. McFague wants metaphors that produce a vision of God and the world that will contribute to solving our ecological and nuclear problems. A theologian who wants theology to deal with different problems will develop different metaphors. McFague has no way of evaluating theological metaphors except for her own preference or experience. It is the ability of the metaphor to describe experience of God for the individual that validates or invalidates the metaphor.[15]

In this situation, evangelical theology’s doctrine of scripture provides it with a resource to judge between various metaphors for God. It must still be recognized that metaphors, because of their nature, are true in some aspects and false in others, but the relative worth of each metaphor can be determined more objectively with scripture as the primary standard. Theology can still ascribe to be inclusive and contribute to solving many of the problems we face, but the metaphors developed through metaphorical theology will be less subjective and more constructive with a higher view of scripture

III. A New Relationship – The World as God’s Body

Another problem McFague has with traditional Christian theology is that is uses a monarchical triumphalistic model to image the relationship between God and the world. God is seen as the great king and the world is his sovereign domain. God may rule over the world with power and/or benevolence, but this image has become unsuitable for this ecological and nuclear age. God’s use of power to control the earth, even in a benevolent manner, encourages humans to act in the same way towards the earth and contributes to an apathetic attitude towards dealing with our ecological and nuclear problems; if God is going to look after everything in the end, why should we do anything now?[16] McFague’s image of the relationship between God and the world is designed to encourage a caring, loving and nurturing attitude towards the world.

The criteria McFague sets for her models of God are that they must fit the postmodern context in which we live. The mechanistic model of modernity must give way to an organic model. The anthropocentric perspective that dominates Western thought must be set aside in favor of a holistic perspective. The dualistic hierarchical aspects of an anthropocentric perspective are then overcome by the monistic egalitarian aspects that come with a holistic perspective. The monarchical image of God will not fit these criteria, so McFague proposes to image the universe as God’s body.[17]

One benefit of imaging the world as God’s body is the stress it places on immanence. Christianity has always been an incarnational religion, so the idea of God “indwelling” the world is not as radical as it seems.[18] Identifying God with the world imbues all things with a sacramental quality; there is nothing that cannot mediate or express some aspect of God. Yet God is transcendent over the world just as each person is transcendent over their own bodies. Just as humans are more than the sum of their physical reality, God is more than the sum of all reality.[19]

A second benefit is the implications this image brings to ecology and anthropology. If the world is God’s body then our treatment of the world is a refection of our treatment of God. Loving and caring for the environment becomes an act of worship. It also provides a context for social justice in theology. It emphasizes the importance of our own physical reality. How we meet or neglect the physical needs of other humans reflects on our treatment of God. A new conception of God’s relationship with the world will bring with it a new conception of how humans should act in and towards the world.[20]

A third benefit is the attitude this model attributes to God in relation to the world. If the world is God’s body, then God’s attitude towards the world must be one of great care and concern. Whatever happens in and to the world impacts God in a meaningful way. Pain and suffering on earth produce pain and suffering in God. This immanence produces a greater sympathy and intimacy between God and everything that makes up the world, including human beings.[21]

The immanence of God in McFague’s model brings it closer to pantheism, whereas the monarchical model tends towards deism. God is not reduced to the world because he does transcend it. The world is dependant upon God for its existence, but God is not dependent upon the world. However, the only reality that exists is God’s reality. This monistic view does present problems for sin and evil, because there is no provision for a reality apart from God; any evil that exists must exist as a part of God. In McFague’s view the problem of sin is outweighed by the empathy God displays in suffering with the world.[22]

It is important to remember that metaphorical theology does not identify the model with the reality behind the model, so that imaging the world as God’s body is not to say that the world is in fact God’s body. God is not a physical being, therefore the world cannot literally be God’s body. This model is an experimental way of describing God that will contain elements of truth and falsehood. McFague finds it more satisfactory than the monarchical model because the way in which it portrays God and the world can inspire a change in attitudes to better deal with the issues we face today.[23]

Critique and Appropriation

This particular aspect of McFague’s theology would be the most unappealing for evangelical theology. Identifying God with the world, even in a metaphorical sense, would not likely fit into an evangelical understanding of the nature of God and the world. The need for a new understanding of the relationship between God and the world should not be dismissed out of hand, but McFague’s panentheistic model is not the way to proceed.

McFague’s characterization of the monarchical model of God and the world is to some degree a caricature. It is true that the transcendence of God is given more emphasis than immanence, but God is not altogether absent from the world. Her portrayal of the difference in creation accounts between the monarchical and organic models[24] fails to adequately credit the immanence of God in the activity of creation. The image of God’s Spirit hovering or brooding over the waters of chaos in Genesis 1:2 is just one example of the direct presence of God in creation, as opposed to McFague’s criticism of the transcendent “words” that brought everything into being. The image of brooding carries the connotation of giving birth and caring for offspring that McFague herself seeks. The Hebrew and Christian scriptural traditions also emphasize God’s activity in the world, specifically in the realm of human history. The charge of a dualistic difference between God and the universe cannot be denied but the absence of God’s presence in the world cannot be maintained.

The abandonment of the anthropocentric perspective in favor of a cosmocentric perspective[25] is also a mistake. Ironically, it is also a perspective that McFague cannot truly abandon, as much as she might try. If the anthropocentric perspective would be embraced, the models she develops would be more coherent and more effective. In the end, McFague must appeal to the doctrine of the imago dei in an attempt to provide some sort of relevance and motivation for humans to change.[26] This appeal is necessary because it is humans that must consciously change their behavior as a result of this theological shift; humans and God are the only agents in the universe alongside the multitude of subjects. Partnering with God to restore balance and stability to the world is the only way to provide salvation for ourselves and the universe.[27]

A more effective model for imaging the relationship between God and the world is that of humanity as God’s body. The entire human race is God’s physical manifestation on earth, and the mediation of God’s presence to the world. [28] This model has several benefits over McFague’s panentheistic model.

First, it utilizes the doctrine of the imago dei as an integral element rather than special pleading. When the imago is viewed as functional representation rather than an ontological characteristic (such as reason), humanity itself makes God immanent in the world. Humankind as a whole represents God to the rest of creation, making God present in a physical, incarnational way. Recalling the non-literal character of metaphorical theology, referring to humanity as God’s body should not present a problem for evangelical theology. Even the New Testament refers to the church as Christ’s body.

Second, humanity as God’s body maintains the differentiation between God and the world that is lost with panentheism. God is still present in the world in a physical way, yet God and the world are still distinct. McFague dislikes the dualism between God and the world in this model, yet even her own model cannot overcome dualistic tendencies. She maintains that, despite the world being God’s body, God is still distinct from the world. Should the world cease to exist, God would continue. Human beings themselves are also more than their physical existence in some undefined way. It is agreed that an antagonistic dualism is harmful, but there is nothing inherent in traditional Christian dualism that sets one aspect of reality (God) against the other (the world).

Third, the problem of evil is lessened with this model. Making evil a part of God in McFague’s monistic model means that God is not totally good and cannot overcome evil and suffering. The best that can be said is that God suffers with the world. Evil is an integral part of the world, and struggling against it is ultimately useless. Making God more distinct from creation allows for evil to exist apart from God’s own desires or actions. It also allows for a hope that evil and suffering can be overcome, specifically through God’s action in history and through humanity (as God’s body).

Fourth, humanity as God’s body also reduces the hierarchical aspects inherent in the traditional models of God. If humanity as a whole is God’s body, then there are no parts that are more important than others. No one group, class, race, sex or religion is inherently superior to any other. Instead, humanity is united through its status as God’s representatives. Humanity is also given a goal to strive for together. Since humanity itself is the body of God, all humans must work together to represent God properly to the rest of the world. No one individual or group can accomplish this task on their own.

The real question that must be asked regarding the image of humanity as God’s body is whether it fits our postmodern context and whether it provides a positive response to the ecological and nuclear crises. Admittedly, imaging the whole world as God’s body does make the treatment of the world a more significant theological issue. But since the health and welfare of humanity as a whole depends to a large extent on a healthy ecosystem (including those “insignificant” aspects of the ecosystem that we do not understand), the image of humanity as God’s body does provide a basis for properly representing God to the world by caring for it as he cares for us.

In terms of theological social justice, the way in which humans treat other humans, the model of humanity as God’s body is much more effective than the world as God’s body. If humans are part of God’s body only as a part of the greater ecosystem, the treatment of individual humans becomes less important. In fact, the case could be made for the repression or elimination of individual humans in order to bring the whole ecosystem into better balance. McFague herself makes this point in an attempt to refute the obvious implications of her model for the issue of abortion. To avoid a pro-life stance, she admits that population control and the issues of quality of life must be taken into account.[29]

But if humans are the body of God, how we treat other humans becomes a much more serious issue.

The issue of the nuclear crisis is also dealt with more effectively by imaging humanity as God’s body. McFague’s issue with nuclear weapons is that through them we have the power to end life, even to end the cycle of birth and death completely.[30] However, it is unlikely that even a nuclear war would completely end all life on earth. There is evidence of comet and asteroid impacts from the past that released greater energy and destruction than all our nuclear weapons combined. Yet life survived these impacts.[31] Using a cosmocentric perspective, McFague’s model does little to change attitudes regarding nuclear war. The extinction of human life would not end all life, nor would it destroy the earth. In fact, it could be argued that the extinction of human life would benefit the rest of the world and go far in restoring balance to the whole ecosystem. If humanity is seen as God’s body, then nuclear war becomes much more serious. Such an assault on the human race must be seen as an assault on God. If one is serious about changing human attitudes in regards to nuclear war, the image of humanity as God’s body is much more effective and inspiring than the image of the world as God’s body.

IV. New Models – God as Mother, Lover and Friend

 McFague outlined a proposal for metaphorical theology and used it to develop the metaphor of the world as God’s body. Many theologians would have stopped at this point, but she goes on to develop three personal metaphors into models for conceiving the relationship of God and the world. McFague is convinced that only personalist models of God can adequately express the love that God has for the world. These personalist models are more readily adaptable by evangelical theology than non-personalist metaphorical models such as those proposed by Gordon Kaufman.[32]

McFague finds in John’s portrayal of Christ as the expression of divine love, as well as the earlier Judaic Wisdom traditions, scriptural precedents for non-monrachical models of God. McFague’s three models, Mother, Lover and Friend, correspond to the three members of the trinity (Father, Son and Spirit), to three significant Christian doctrines (creation, salvation and eschatology), and to three elements of ethics (justice, healing and companionship).[33] The emphasis in her models is to re-image God using three basic types of love (agape – giving, eros – desire and philia – companionship) as examples of the love God has for the world, the way in which God works in the world and the way in which humans can attempt to mirror God’s actions in the way they interact in the world.[34]

McFague’s three models of God are an outworking of her metaphorical theology from her ecofeminist perspective. An evangelical outworking of metaphorical theology using the same models (perhaps substituting Parent for Mother) would produce different conceptions, but I believe they would make an equal contribution to improving the awareness of Christians in regards to the issues of environmentalism and nuclear holocaust. The motivation behind these three models would be welcome additions to the evangelical consciousness. Emphasizing the parental rather than patriarchal aspects of God the Father (or Mother or Parent) would provide a fresh understanding of the nature of God’s love for created humanity. The model of God as Lover expresses well the radical desire God has for humanity and the radical nature of God’s salvific love. God as Friend is a model commonly used in evangelicalism, but the weight it gives to God’s desire for our companionship and the companionship we will experience in the eschaton are aspects that could be reinforced. Unfortunately, using McFague’s metaphorical theology to develop evangelical personalist models of God would take more space than is available in this paper. However, it can be affirmed that such a development would be both possible and beneficial.

V. Conclusion

There are several glaring weaknesses in McFague’s theology that bear mentioning. The first involves her cosmocentric perspective. McFague approaches her theology from a cosmocentric perspective to develop a greater awareness for the place of humanity in the universe and an appreciation for other forms of life. It was mentioned above that an evangelical appropriation would be more effective from an anthropocentric perspective. In fact, McFague is unable to avoid falling into anthropocentrism herself. Her use of personalist metaphors for God speaks of an anthropocentric perspective. She relates the various aspects of divine love to their impact on humans (particularly human individuals), and as a result must continually change the natural focus of God’s love from humans to the world. This continual modification of the recipient of God’s love is particularly noticeable in McFague’s development of the model of God as Friend.[35]

A second weakness involves McFague’s conception of the universe as basically benign. This is patently false in almost every area we can see. One of the central principles of evolutionary theory (which McFague herself embraces) is the survival of the fittest. Death is an integral part of an evolutionary perspective, yet McFague sees the world as generally favorable for life. The image of God that emerges from the model of the world as God’s body is an unfavorable one to say the least. If the universe as we see it is not particularly nice, benevolent or even conducive to life in general, why should we expect a God that is so closely related to the world to have these characteristics?[36]

Third, McFague’s proposals for replacing a hierarchical, dualistic, anthropomorphic, exclusivist theology with a theology that is destabilizing, nonhierarchical, ecological and inclusive lacks one significant element: motivation. It is striking how a model that is designed to inspire a new vision of the nature of God, the world and our place within it can lack the crucial element that would actually enable change. Part of this motivational deficiency is related to the cosmological perspective. Models and metaphors that subordinate the value of humans (individually and corporately) to nature as a whole inherently fail to motivate those devalued humans.

The lack of motivation also involves McFague’s doctrines of sin and eschatology. Sin for McFague is the refusal to see and accept our interdependence with the world. We sin when we attempt to exalt ourselves over other humans and nature in an attempt to control them. Salvation is attained by recognizing and accepting our interdependence with other people and nature. But these ideas of sin and salvation are not individualistic nor do they pertain only to humans. Salvation involves the unification of God and the world.[37] In this case, the particular part humans must play is rather vague. Participating in salvation becomes simply caring for the environment. But a new theological method is not necessary to encourage people to do that. Individual responsibility is also lacking because neither sin nor salvation is an individual matter.

Eschatology brings no motivation either, because there is no real eschaton to look forward to. All we can hope and strive for is a better relationship with nature. There is no return to an unfallen primal state but simply a hope that the future might be slightly better than the present, not necessarily for humans but for the ecosystem as a whole. [38] This vision of eschatology is neither inspiring nor encouraging.

A final weakness in regards to motivation involves the relationship of humanity and God. McFague attempts to make God more immanent through equating the world with God’s body. Yet, by removing the possibility of a personal relationship between individual humans (or even humanity as a whole) and God, she makes God even more remote. Humans can encounter God only through the physical world, and only as a part of that world. There is no provision for God to relate to individuals except as a part of the whole.

Evangelical theology provides a greater motivation for its adherents through its doctrines of sin, salvation and eschatology. In some ways, the evangelical conception of sin is not all that different than McFague’s. We understand the original sin to be a grasping after that which was forbidden. It was a rejection of the place and position that God prepared for us, and it resulted in estrangement between God and the world (including humanity).[39] Salvation involves God’s provision for humans and the world to attain that place and position once again through a renewal or regeneration.

The “now-and-not-yet” character of evangelical salvation and renewal also points to eschatology. The final renewal of humanity and the world will happen in the eschaton. But renewal is also happening at the present time. Our duty as Christians is to participate in the regeneration of humanity and the world.[40]

In this way, evangelical theology provides significant motivation for action by its adherents. Salvation and renewal are issues that impact individuals as well as humanity as a whole. Because these issues matter to individuals, individuals are much more likely to participate. Eschatology is an additional motivation for change. If God is going to renew humanity and the world in a radical way, our desire should be to participate in that renewal as best as we can now. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, what motivation is there to care for the world and each other if our efforts only have meaning for our lifetime (or even a few lifetimes)? But if how we behave towards each other and the world has eternal consequences our motivation will be much greater.[41]

Evangelical theology would benefit significantly from the destabilizing, nonhierarchical, ecological and inclusive perspective that McFague brings through her theology. These emphases are integral to Christianity, yet they have been systematically ignored by evangelicals. Our singular focus on spiritual matters has led us to neglect matters of the world. Orthodoxy is important, but so is orthopraxy. The two cannot and should not be separated. A theological method that can bring a fresh and exciting vision of the nature and character of God, a new emphasis on caring for each other as humans and can focus our attention on the importance of loving the world God has put us in would be a significant addition to evangelical theology.[42] It is important to echo McFague’s emphasis that metaphorical theology does not attempt to define the reality of which it speaks; it simply uses metaphors to emphasize more clearly certain aspects of God to make God more fully understood. It is a theology that can be used alongside more traditional theological methods to provide elements that have been missing in evangelical theology. An extension of the evangelical concern for salvation to include all aspects of salvation, spiritual and physical, and an expansion of its attention on God’s plan for the eschaton to include God’s love for the world around us is vital for its continuation and growth.

[1] David Siegenthaler, “Ecology Needs Theology,” Dialog 42:3 (Fall 2003): 242.

[2] Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, (New York: Ballantine Books, 1994), 175-182. The emphasis the Kyoto Accord is receiving on the world political stage and in the press is evidence that the environmental threat of human activity is finally sinking in. The dangers of nuclear weapons have been understood and accepted for some time now.

[3] Rosemary Radford Ruether, “Ecological Theology: Roots in Tradition, Liturgical and Ethical Practices for Today,” Dialog 42:3 (Fall 2003): 226.

[4] Sallie McFague, Metaphorical Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 4-8.

[5] Ibid., 39-41.

[6] Ibid., 23-24.

[7] Ibid., 14-16.

[8] Ibid., 34-37.

[9] McFague, Models of God (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 35-36.

[10] Metaphorical Theology, 84-85.

[11] Models of God, 38-40.

[12] Joseph A. Bracken, “Images of God Within Systematic Theology” Theological Studies 63:2 (June 2002): 365. (pages 362-374)

[13] F. Sontag, “Metaphorical Non-Sequitur?” Scottish Journal of Theology 44:1 (1991): 4.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Metaphorical Theology, 133.

[16] Models of God, 68-69.

[17] McFague, The Body of God, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 18-20.

[18] Stephen W. Need, “Language, Metaphor and Chalcedon: A Case of Theological Double Vision,” Harvard Theological Review 88:2 (1995): 243.

[19] The Body of God, 20-21; Dorothy McDougall, “Toward a Sacramental Theology for an Ecological Age,” Toronto Journal of Theology 19:1 (2003): 41.

[20] The Body of God, 20-21.

[21] Ibid., 149-150.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Models of God, 78.

[24] The Body of God, 38ff.

[25] Ibid., 48.

[26] Models of God, 76-77.

[27] Ibid.

[28] This doctrine has been developed by the author in his paper, “A Functional Understanding of the Image of God,” Quodlibet 6:4 (Oct-Dec 2004).

[29] Ibid., 104.

[30] Ibid., 15.

[31] Sagan, 250.

[32] Models of God, 81-83; Gordon Kaufman, review of Models of God by Sallie McFague, Theology Today 45:1 (April 1988): 98.

[33] Ibid., 92.

[34] Ibid., 181-183.

[35] Models of God, 157-180 (esp. 175).

[36] B. Jill Carroll, “Models of God or Models of Us?” Encounter 52:1 (Spring 1991): 185-186 (183-196); Sagan, 54.

[37] Models of God, 137-139.

[38] Deborah M. Warner, review of The Body of God by Sallie McFague, Anglican Theological Review 76:3 (Summer 1994): 384 (382-384).

[39] Henri Blocher, In the Beginning, (Leicester: IVP, 1984), 137; Stanley J. Grenz, The Social God and the Relational Self, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 169.

[40] Grenz, 229-230.

[41] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (Collins: Glasgow, 1953), 69-70.

[42] G. Clarke Chapman, “Speaking of God in a Nuclear Age,” Anglican Theological Review 73:3 (Summer 1991): 266.

Emerging Church Economics

There are too many errors in this book for unsophisticated readers. McLaren’s book has value only to readers who recognize the mistakes but are willing to learn about a position that springs from ideology and a theological framework. For me, the emerging church movement is enough to consider by itself without flawed economics intertwined

Mordecai Kaplan: Rethinking Judaism for the New World

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