Monday, November 30, 2009

Theology of Sociology

Mead claims that the self can only emerge through interaction, that without language and socialization the self would never come to be. This prompts interesting questions: could we conceive of a person without language and who is never socialized? Would they, then, not have a self? What does that mean ontologically?

From a Christian perspective, this creates an interesting problem for it is hard to imagine the self in a way that seperates it from the Christian concept of the soul. One might even posit that the two are one and the same. Extending Mead’s argument, then, would raise the question, “If one has no language and is never socialized (ie. if they never interact with other people) would they then not have a soul? Is a soul something that develops in this way?” Good questions.

This becomes a problem only if we maintain that it is only inter-human interaction that leads to the development of the self (read: the soul). If that is not the case, then a rather remakable truth emerges. The existence and development of the soul (seperating those two functions so as not to claim that one could exist and yet not have a soul) depends on the fact that all souls interact, in their creation, with God. In the same way that the being of the Trinity is enhanced* and defined by its relational quality, so our being is enhanced and defined by our relationship with God. No one can avoid at least a minimal amount of relating to God – otherwise we could not exist.

This line of thinking does have interesting implications for conceptions of our need for and the working out of the Gospel. For example, though all people have at least that minimal required interaction with God necessary for our existence (perhaps common grace also figures into this concept as well), we all sever that connection and thus lost the source of interaction most crucial for the development and health of our soul. Salvation, then, could be conceived of as the reestablisment of that connection by which our souls can yet again develop as they ought, heaven becomes the fullest form of that interaction and thus the full blossoming of our self – our souls – through our interaction with God, hell is the punishment of eternal banishment from that presence through which our selves regress into near nothing – the death of the soul.

This all, mind you, is merely the consideration of a question and not meant to imply a definite understanding of a theology of sociology. However, it does raise the question as to whether such a venture might be, in some way, worthwhile.

*This is not to imply that God, in trinitarian form, is some how “better” than God in some other form, as if such a form were plausable option. God is by his nature both good and in trinity thus implying a completeness and absoluteness that could not be otherwise (ie. if God is good and is in trinity then any other form would neither be good nor would it be God). I use the term primarily to bridge the relational aspects of God and man.

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At 3:29 PM, Anonymous breath35 said...

Sharp point on the Trinity as God's "self-enhancement".

Prof. Aaron T. Smith at Marquette has made it sound this way:
God's primal decision to elect Himself as Triune is an event of God's self-specification.


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