Frequent repetition of a formula may secure for it an acceptance which its intrinsic value might never bring. This seems to be the case with the statement, so frequently made nowadays, that contemporary advancements in scientific exploration make it completely untenable and irrelevant to speak of a God who is either “up there” or “out there.” There is reason to think that multitudes are accepting such a contention without ever really coming to grips with the presuppositions behind it. Perhaps we do well, before we become hypnotized by the frequent repetition of such a cliché as “No God up there or out there,” to seek to discover upon what grounds the contention is made.
The theologian Paul Tillich, to whom reference is usually made in support of such a statement, seems convinced that a faith in God that rests upon any such theological presupposition as “transcendence” is doomed to disappear into the limbo of irrelevance in the light of the scientific orientation of today’s man, and before the psychological obstacles that his manner of thought places in his way. Such a claim ought not to be accepted without at least an attempt to discover whether or not the ground upon which it rests is unassailable.
When the plain man hears the wide range of explanations given in defense of the formula under discussion, and when he asks for some clear word upon which he can rest his spiritual confidence, he is confused, and wonders whether the theologian has understood his questions. If God is neither “up there” nor “out there,” then precisely where is he?
The answer that is given to him seems to be that there is a structural ground underlying all that is, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more