LANGDON GILKEY'S THEOLOGY OF PROVIDENCE: AN INTERPRETATION FOR A SECULAR CULTURE

HUGH WILLIAM BIHL, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation explores Langdon Gilkey's attempt to construct a theology of Divine Providence that takes full account of modern historical consciousness and contemporary secular experience. It notes Gilkey's acceptance of the view that humans, and not God, are the makers of their own history and that God is the ground of the process that makes this possible. It draws heavily on Gilkey's understanding of secularity developed in Naming the Whirlwind, on this theology of creativity given in Maker of Heaven and Earth, on his vision of historical creation presented primarily in Reaping the Whirlwind and on his understanding of redemption in the latter and in Society and the Sacred.^ The author expounds Gilkey's theology of "creation out of nothing," developed in contradistinction to Whitehead, with some help from Tillich. He considers Gilkey's understanding of history as the polarity of destiny and freedom and examines his view of how God's eternity relates to the temporal processes in which the tasks of historical creation take place. He then takes up Gilkey's treatment of Providence as redeeming--how God overcomes the distortions of the historical processes created by human sinfulness and ultimately brings everyone to salvation through his merciful love. He ultimately criticizes this latter view as not being sufficiently respectful of human powers of self-determination.^ At various places in the dissertation, the author considers the need for more attention to the theology that stresses how the world is made in God's image and likeness. Ultimately, he finds that Langdon Gilkey's reliance on the Augustinian theology of original sin and predestination conflicts with his vision of creativity in history. He suggests alternate traditions--Gregory of Nyssa in the fourth century and Teilhard de Chardin in the twentieth--and tries to show that these are more compatible with Gilkey's overall vision than the positions of Augustine, which he has actually followed. From Gregory the author draws the conviction that human creativity and self-determination are the principal image of the Divine in the created world and from Teilhard the vision of a dialogic relationship between God and the world that grows ever more personal. ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

BIHL, HUGH WILLIAM, "LANGDON GILKEY'S THEOLOGY OF PROVIDENCE: AN INTERPRETATION FOR A SECULAR CULTURE" (1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8714571.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8714571

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