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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: February 2019

4 - A tale of two theisms




The question of God is the most basic theological question. Does God exist? If so, who is God? And what is God like? How we answer these interrelated questions will temper everything else we say theologically about life in relation to God (or in the atheist's case atheologically – about life without God). The question of God's existence is most fundamental, since in the history of ideas the notion of God has always been thought of in conjunction with the world (kosmos) as the world's ground, goal, logic, or meaning. That is to say, theology always implies cosmology or worldview, given that all the basic questions of life intersect in the question of God. If God is regarded as non-existent, the world appears without ground or goal, and the meaning of life is in crisis, since the one standard large enough to measure life in the world – traditionally the role of “God” – has been taken out of the equation.

As indicated in the previous chapter, Christian theology proceeds on the basis that God has already sought us out and revealed the divine identity and purpose. In the quest(ion) of God, therefore, Christian theology presupposes God's existence; but, as faith in quest of understanding, it will be keen to elucidate reasons for affirming that existence. Systematic theology is more deeply concerned, however, to clarify who God is, both generally (as Theos) and in particular (as Trinity), and to articulate what God is like, largely by means of divine attributes.