Models, Idols, and the Great White Whale: Toward a Christian Faith of Nonattachment

In Asa Kasher & Jeanine Diller (eds.), Models of God and Other Ultimate Realities. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 1001-1112 (2013)
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The juxtaposition of models of God and Christian faith may seem repugnant to many, as models are tentative and faith aims at an abiding certainty. In fact, for many Christians, using models of God in worship amounts to idolatry. By examining Biblical and extra-Biblical views of idolatry, I argue that models are not idols. To the contrary, the practice of God-modeling inoculates Christians against one of the most seductive idols of our age: the love of certainty. Furthermore, by examining meditations upon certainty in Melville’s Moby Dick and the early discourses of the Buddha, I suggest that overweening conviction is a vice that hinders rather than guarantees Christian discipleship, and that Christian faith is better defined as any or all of the following: relative confidence in propositions, faithful relationship, and a virtue of disciplined credulity.

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J. R. Hustwit
Methodist University


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