Tanner and Poet
It is comic for an over-80 to be reading systematic theology, as it not likely to be on the final exam. It has more to say to those who are responsible for the Christian witness to the world, pastors, preachers. Teachers and even poets. Still, since the middle of the summer I have reading Tanner, and find myself in kind of rear-guard movement, wanting to witness to the importance of her systematic theology. Thus, we have this Face Book page, “Tanner Talk of Omaha,” a sister page to “On Giving My Word Tancreti.” The two pages might seem unrelated, but they do bare on one another. Retrospectively, I recognize that the theology that underlies the poetic of On Giving My Word is similar to Tanner’s and gains clarity from it. It is similar because my reading in the Seventies and Eighties, Rahner, Schleiermacher and Bart, was similar to Tanner’s. Had I been aware of it at the timeing I was writing that poetry, it would have served as useful guide to the coherent God talk I was attempting, now can gain by being judged by it.
I would illustrate this with a quick reference to a short poem you will find in On Giving My Word, page 248, “As God Will’s.” One of Tanner’s principles of coherent God talk, is that God’s agency does not compete with human (creaturely) efficacy. I wrote:
I would like God to tell me
If I should go to the right or the left.
If God did, then I would not have to choose,
Which is not God’s will for me.
. . . .
. . . .
So, I shall choose, which is God’s will for me,
and if I prosper and live, I shall be a communion for God.
And if I dimmish and die, God will be a communion for me.
As God wills.