Why “A Greater Courage”?

My name is Derrick Peterson (B.A. Bible/Theology, B.A. Koine Greek, M.Div. in Theological Studies, Th.M. Historical Theology). I’m a lover of theology, philosophy, science, literature, history, and languages, and this is my playground.  Welcome!

Why “a greater courage”? It is a riff upon the title of Paul Tillich’s book, The Courage to Be, which is based off of Tillich’s 1950-51 Terry Foundation Lectures.  A strange, but wonderful book, Tillich explains the courage to be as “the ethical act in which man affirms his own being in spite of those elements of his existence which conflict with his essential self-affirmation” (3).  This involves the acceptance of one’s own finitude; the courage-to-be takes into itself the anxiety of non-being, but overcomes it by affirming itself despite this.  Courage, as they say, is not fearlessness; it is acting even in spite of being afraid.

All well and good.  And yet, I have always felt language of self-affirmation does not go far enough.  There is a greater courage to be had because God has affirmed us, and called us from those things which were not (Rom. 4:17).  It is not we who take the anxiety of death into ourselves to overcome it, but Christ on the cross.  Tillich would not ultimately disagree.  Thus theology is a task which expresses this greater courage: understanding all of reality–even our self-affirmation–in light of its ultimate relation to God.  Or as the Scholastics would often put it: sub ratione Dei.

A greater courage is thus the life-long and universal task of theology, venturing in thought and body, in relation and speech, out into the complex and wondrous world and history that God has given.  Theology is a grand adventure that spans all other disciplines.  So come join me, and we can begin to try and catch (and be caught-up-in) God’s wisdom, who is “more mobile than any motion” (Wisdom of Solomon 7:24-28).


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