Thursday, September 04, 2008
God is a symbol of God. God cannot be part of finite experience in any way, but there can be something meaningful to be said about God. It only takes all languages of God to be symbolic rather than literal, hence the term God being a symbol of God. It is God alone who knows much about Himself, making it hard for us to know who this God is in our own linguistic terms. This symbolism of God does not mean God is not real. In fact, language just falls short of comprehending the unreachable glory of God, so human description of God necessitates symbolic language in order to make approximating representations of that Who cannot be fully understood in human terms. Language makes possible the pointing god’s reality in a symbolic manner without necessarily identifying it as the reality. Hence, symbols are glorious in that they permit humans to describe what is normally indescribable, breaking levels of reality that are shut out from literal language.
The only authentic response to the demythologization of religious symbols is to break the symbols.
Demythologization of religious symbols depreciates the mystery of the divine in the encounter with humans, so as a response, breaking the symbols is needed to interpret and, ultimately, to know them. Explaining the symbols must be done because this mitigates the overwhelming difficulty of interpreting a much larger realm of that being represented; the action gets to interpret not only a religion’s verbal elements but also its physical objects, imagery an the things the make for religious rituals and practice. In this manner, religious symbols make sense and prove to be manifestations and ways of knowing God. Also, challenging demythologization through breaking the symbols brings the divine into the concrete and into action in time and space. It turns the infinite into the finite in order not to remove the myth—the collection of symbols of man’s ultimate concern—from human spiritual life.
Maintaining the symbolic nature of mythical and ritual language prevents faith from generating into either superstition or a secularist system of mere social demands.
Superstition or secularism makes real out of the unreal, so if faith is reduced to this level, the symbolism through which God makes sense to humans becomes insignificant in interpreting the mysterious divine. Hence, the symbolic nature of mythical and ritual languages must be maintained because by then, faith turns more concrete rather than wanting of meaning, and humans can somehow make approximations of who God is despite His inscrutability. Languages of faith such as in myths and rituals elevate language to a level wherein interpretation of the normally unintelligible becomes possible, so they are beyond the artificial because in their symbolic nature lies their power and truth. It must be remembered that nothing less than symbols and myths can represent the ultimate concern.