Editor’s Introduction by Jon Stanley:

This paper by Dr. Ronald Kuipers is a modified version of an address presented on the occasion of his inauguration as Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at The Institute for Christian Studies (ICS) in Toronto, Canada. While this piece does not address atheism directly, it is an important voice in the conversation we are hosting in this issue of The Other Journal in that it explores what it might mean to intentionally decide to remain “religious” in an age in which atheism is a legitimate spiritual option for many. As Kuipers notes, “Through this piece I hope to present a contemporary religious option that has perhaps not been anticipated by the majority of secular and agnostic critiques of religion, yet one that remains recognizably religious and indeed Christian, while also remaining open to the force of those secular critiques.”

If this paper is taken as a religious (and “indeed Christian”) person’s response to the secular critiques of religious culture, I am curious to hear the responses of both Christian and atheist readers alike. For Christians: Do you also often feel stymied by the seemingly simple question, are you religious? Do you recognize yourself in Kuipers’ proposal for what it means to be religious, and a person of faith? Are there particular elements to your religiosity that Kuipers’ style of faith takes issue with? And could Kuipers’ notion of faith as “the art of the possible” provide a compelling vision for how people of faith might be a redemptive presence in contemporary society? And for atheists: What do you make of the notion that all people (including atheists and agnostics) live out of a particular “trust-orientation” or “ultimate concern,” and are therefore inescapably “religious?” Do you resonate with Kuipers’ critiques of contemporary society (as “post-industrial, consumer-capitalist steeped in ecological crisis”) and his critique of some forms of current religiosity (as “customers, shopping for an individualistic version of ‘health and wealth’ religion”)? And is Kuipers’ particular style of religiosity (one that is “shaped by the desire and the attempt to craft a life that, in love, embraces the human definition”) one that, even if you did not choose to believe in, you could acknowledge as a life well lived?

These are just a few of the many questions that Kuipers’ paper “Faith as the Art of the Possible: Invigorating Religious Tradition in an Amnesiac Society” brings to the fore, and that I hope will be addressed by our readers in the TOJ discussion boards.

“Are you Religious?”

“Are you religious?” she asked me point blank. Up until that moment, I thought we had been having a casual conversation. That is, we were not having a serious discussion about the meaning of life, or sharing intimate personal witness and testimony. Our conversation, at least until that moment, could only be described as small talk. She asked me, “What do you do?” “I’m nearing completion of a PhD in philosophy,” I replied. “At the University of Toronto?” she asked. “No, at ‘The Institute for Christian Studies’ (ICS),” I said.

As usual, it then fell upon me to fill the yawning chasm of dumbfounded silence this reply often introduces between myself and my interlocutors. Normally in this situation, I offer a brief description of the ICS, which, given the unique nature of this “small, independent, Christian graduate school of interdisciplinary philosophy,” is no easy task. In fact, by the time I finish with such a description, it is not uncommon for my now somewhat puzzled conversation partner to have convinced him or herself that, at such a school, I could only be training for a career in the ministry. (Even a close hockey buddy of mine still confuses me for a minister from time to time, but I forgive him.) This time, however, the question that simply followed my explanation was, “Are you religious?”

I must confess to having stumbled over this seemingly simple question. One might even say that perhaps no simpler question could be asked of a philosopher schooled in the Reformational tradition of Christian philosophy, one whose mentor, Hendrik Hart, worked hard and effectively to pass along the deep impress of H. Evan Runner’s maxim: “Life is Religion.”[1] Still, I clearly remember balking at the question. Not only did it run afoul of the social truism that at informal social gatherings one should refrain from speaking about either politics or religion, it was also quite personal, and I had only recently met this person. But my biggest stumbling block to answering this question with a simple, unqualified “yes” was, and still is, that these days I am never sure exactly what I am being asked to affirm or deny. Several questions run through my mind at this point: What does she mean by “religious?” Will she impute any undesirable character traits to me if I answer “yes?” Which exemplars typify the category for her—Ghandi, Theresa, and Romero, or Dobson, Falwell, and LaHaye? Is she a disciple of Richard Dawkins, just waiting to pounce all over my “God delusion?” Or is she simply a fellow Christian, or a person committed to some other faith, someone searching for solidarity in a secularized liberal society where opportunities for open, public discussion of one’s religious convictions are few and far between? There is simply no way of knowing in advance where she is coming from, unless, at the risk of seeming rather obtuse (or, perhaps, like a philosopher), I first ask her for too many explanations and qualifications concerning what is, after all, a pretty direct question.

Perhaps, it occurred to me, I could, before simply answering her question, offer some qualifications of my own. For example, I could take the time to explain to her that, not only am I religious, but I have been trained in an intellectual tradition that rejects the Enlightenment belief in the possibility of religious neutrality, that is, of anyone not being religious in some sense. The lives of all persons, and not just the lives of those who commit themselves to a particular religious tradition, are rooted in a trust-orientation, an “ultimate concern,” that is itself not rationally grounded or groundable, and therefore not religiously neutral. Would such a reply, however, not simply amount to a grand and overly-precious evasion of this deceptively simple question, akin to a description of the night when all cows are black?

In the space provided me here, I want to explore the possibility of providing an affirmative answer to this woman’s question, which I have discovered is not really a simple matter at all. In so doing, I hope to offer some (hopefully tantalizing) suggestions concerning what it might mean, and more importantly, what it perhaps ought to mean, for a Christian such as myself to affirm his faith in a pluralistic, differentiated society like ours, one that is deeply damaged, yet one that is neither hopeless nor without possibilities for significant healing and restorative transformation.[2]

My strategy will be to work backwards from the title of this essay, by first providing a critical description of our society—that is, a western, post-industrial, consumer-capitalist society steeped in ecological crisis—to which I have given the adjective “amnesiac.” From there, I will discuss what it might mean to partake in and pass along a religious tradition in such a society, a religious tradition that, when healthy, invigorates its members for the ongoing task of healing and restoring that society, and, when unhealthy, itself stands in need of such invigoration. Membership in such a tradition, I will finally suggest, can, at its best, inspire a kind of faith that I will describe as “the art of the possible.” Such a faith can give those graced by it the courage to shape their lives in relation to the mysterious contours of what the agrarian poet, novelist, and philosopher Wendell Berry calls “the human definition.”[3]While such an art of living does indeed call upon us to relinquish the push for cosmic mastery that has come to dominate our species, such a responsive, creaturely life involves much more than merely acquiescing before some authoritarian limit. Crafting such a life should be understood, instead, as a work of love that makes space for the beloved, a life that readies a place that may be graced by new and unpredictable redemptive possibility.

Fragmented Meaning in an Amnesiac Society

Our amnesiac society is deeply marked by historical processes of secularization. According to Max Weber, “the fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the ‘disenchantment of the world.’” In place of a religiously charged cosmos, these modern processes of rationalization have ushered in a world we now consider to be fundamentally “knowable.” Modern people no longer live out their lives in relation to “mysterious incalculable forces,” but instead arm themselves with the conviction that “one can, in principle, master all things by calculation.” According to Weber, modern people look to “technical means and calculations” to achieve the mastery over nature that, according to him, a more primitive humanity once sought via the magical imploration of mysterious spiritual powers.[4] Now, while the predictions of religion’s imminent demise following in the wake of Weber’s pioneering work have proved to be an exaggeration,[5] his characterization of modernity still rings true to those who live in the modern (and one is tempted to say “wild”) west. At the very least, his work astutely marks the historical emergence of a new world-shaping spiritual force on the global scene, and that force is humankind itself, including and especially our relatively newfound powers of scientific discovery and technological manipulation of the natural world. The fact that today we can speak so easily about something called a “human ecological footprint” tells us something about the strength and dynamism of this force.

The French sociologist of religion Danièle Hervieu-Léger describes modern societies as “societies of change,” which she distinguishes from “societies of memory.” According to her, “[t]he affirmation of the autonomous individual, the advance of rationalization breaking up the ‘sacred canopies,’ and the process of institutional differentiation denote the end of societies based on memory.”[6] Change societies, which neglect to care for the continued creative reception of any collective memory, corrode any traditional context in which one might receive and participate in “individual and collective systems of meaning.”[7] For Hervieu-Léger, “the diminution of memory involves the erosion of the imaginative grasp of continuity,” which we require in our struggle to achieve a meaningful human identity. Modernity’s hyper-individualism can thus be seen as both a consequence of and a contributor to this loss of memory. In an amnesiac society, people are left to their own devices to cobble together what meaning they can amidst the fragments that are still available to them, a situation that plays right into the hands of the economic imperatives of a consumer-capitalist economy that trades mainly in the immediate gratification of individual desire. The “individualistic pressure for immediacy,” Hervieu-Léger suggests, “has finally achieved the expulsion of memory from society, so completing a process which began with modernization.”[8]

One comes across a rather stark and chilling example of this sort of hyper-individualistic desertion of memory in the vision for a posthuman future now being promoted by a loose, but culturally influential, collection of highly gifted and motivated inventors, computer scientists, and geneticists. Take the case of Rodney Brooks, robotics pioneer and Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Brooks welcomes the prospect that human technological progress now stands at the cusp of replacing our very humanity. “There is no need to worry about mere robots taking over from us,” he explains. “We will be taking over from ourselves. The distinction between us and robots is going to disappear.”[9] Not only does Brooks insist that “those of us alive today, over the course of our lifetimes, will morph ourselves into machines,”[10] a quick trip over to his website reveals that he doesn’t even think that human beings in their current “unmorphed’” state are anything but highly complex machines. The lure of advanced robotics, then, for someone like Brooks, can only be the promise of making ourselves into better machines than the ones we already are.

In the book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, Bill McKibben draws our attention to the beguiling way in which this technotopian vision of a post-human future brings together a certain self-loathing for the kind of creatures we are, with a “never-look-back” optimism concerning the inevitability of this kind of technological “progress;” “human beings simply must push on,” always expanding their powers. As McKibben summarizes: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue; in 1969 Neil Armstrong took ‘one giant leap for mankind;’ and sometime very soon there will be a baby born with improved hardware. By our nature we must crack the nucleus of the cell.”[11]

Clearly, this vision of our human future takes modern amnesia to a whole new level. Not only does such a vision fail to credit any traditional understanding of the human definition, it actively toys with the possibility of changing that definition forever, and, as McKibben warns, could in the process destroy what it means to be human at all. Yet before we as a culture back ourselves into a future that we cannot undo, we might want to heed Wendell Berry’s advice, and for once restrain the use of our machines. Says Berry (writing in the mid-1970s): “Much as we long for infinities of power and duration, we have no evidence that these lie within our reach, much less within our responsibility. It is more likely that we will have either to live within our limits, within the human definition, or not live at all. And certainly the true knowledge of these limits and of how to live within them is the most comely and graceful knowledge that we have, the most healing and the most whole.”[12]

Invigorating Religious Tradition

Where do religious traditions, and in particular the family of Christian traditions, stand in relation to this heady modern context? The story, I’m afraid, is far from clear, and also far from reassuring. Clearly, the vitality and robustness of religious traditions have also suffered from the same fragmentation and loss of memory that infects the rest of modern society. According to Hervieu-Léger’s account, in which memory and its modern corrosion play a central role in her sociological definition of religion, “[t]he question of secularization here takes on a new form, namely that of the possibility, and plausibility, of a group being able, within a context of memory reduced to fragments and made instantaneous, to recognize itself as a link in a chain of belief,” one that has been “entrusted with the task of extending that chain into the future.”[13] Such is the challenge she places before those among us today who still wish to pattern our lives according to the contours provided by a particular religious tradition. The difficulty here lies in the fact that often these traditions themselves have become forgetful, aligning themselves too readily with the prevailing individualism and consumer mentality that dominates the modern world. As Hervieu-Léger reports, “studies made of religious beliefs and of the substance of the new religiosity of Christian persuasion in the developed world all stress the place given to themes of self-realization and personal achievement in this world.”[14] Too often, it seems, today’s Christians let themselves be little more than religious customers, shopping for an individualistic version of “health and wealth” religion.[15]

In direct contestation to this understanding of the Christian message, the secular philosopher Jürgen Habermas reminds us that “the biblical vision of salvation does not mean simply liberation from individual guilt, but also implies collective liberation from situations of misery and oppression.”[16] Have we already forgotten this much, that we require such a reminder from a secular philosopher? There is reason to hope that things are not yet that dire. For example, many thoughtful Christians have begun to question individualistic interpretations of their faith. I have already mentioned Wendell Berry’s call for us to restrain our use of machines, and to instead embrace life within the human limits that give it meaning and open it up to graceful possibility. A rather lonely voice for some time, Berry’s message is starting to reach a steadily growing audience, a fact that gives me hope that Christians, in particular, have not severed all memorial connection with the wisdom inherent in their tradition.

In The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age, Norman Wirzba laments that “we do not pay attention to the remnants of traditions that hold within themselves the patient accumulation of wisdom necessary for a sustainable life.”[17] But the fact remains that such remnants are still there for us to heed, should we care to take notice of them. As McKibben reminds us, Berry’s call for restraint in our use of technology is a case in point:

[T]hough it galls the apostles of technology, this idea of restraint comes in large measure from our religious heritage. Not the religious heritage of literalism and fundamentalism and pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die. The scientists may have drowned the miracle-working sky gods with their five-century flood of data. Copernicus and Darwin did deprive us of our exalted place in the universe. But this older, deeper, more integral religious idea survives. . . . [I]t has persisted for millennia through its insistence that instead of putting ourselves at the center, we need to move a little to the side.[18]

While this religious memory survives, it has perhaps never been more vulnerable. It is clear to me, however, that, not only must it continue to survive; it must also be invigorated to the extent that it can become a new rallying point for global human solidarity. That we may only be left with fragments of our religious past, I do not presume to say with any degree of certainty. Yet these memories, as “fragmentary, diffuse, and disassociated” as they might be, still hold the promise that “something of collective identification, on which the production and reproduction of social bonds depends, can be saved.”[19] It is in light of the current imperative for worldwide humanity to come together and embrace life within the human definition that I wish to understand faith as the art of the possible.

Faith as the Art of the Possible

In arguing against the malaise of modern amnesia, I do not intend to recommend a nostalgic longing for the recapitulation of a vanished, romanticized past (that perhaps never existed in the first place). The danger of modern amnesia, rather, lies in the way it ignores the human condition of existing, to borrow a phrase from Hannah Arendt, “between past and future.”[20] While Arendt affirms that “the thread of tradition is broken and that we shall not be able to renew it,” she nevertheless counsels those who would dismantle tradition to “be careful not to destroy the ‘rich and strange,’ the ‘coral’ and the ‘pearls,’ which can probably be saved only as fragments.”[21]

In a similar way, Paul Ricoeur affirms this temporal feature of the human condition. For Ricoeur, the condition of “being-affected-by-a-past” forms a pair with the futural intending of a “horizon of expectation.” That is, our hopes and expectations relative to the future inform and thus have repercussions on our reinterpretations of the past. One major repercussive effect, he suggests, is to open up “forgotten possibilities, aborted potentialities, repressed endeavors in the supposedly closed past.” The same effect occurs in the opposite direction; through our attempt to interpret a textual tradition inherited from a distant past we create a space in which to subject our present reality to critical scrutiny, and thus imagine a better future. Following these fragments of memory may “lead us back to those moments of the past where the future was not yet decided,” and, in so doing, make room for new possibility: “It is through this interplay of expectation and memory that the utopia of a reconciled humanity can come to be invested in effective-history.”[22]

We may live in dark times. This does not mean, however, that there is no light to be found at all. This possibility, too, is affirmed by the social philosopher Theodor Adorno, himself not given to excessive optimism concerning “a wholly enlightened earth” whose “light” radiates only “triumphant calamity.”[23] In distinction to this pseudo-light, Adorno affirms the vulnerable existence of differing shards that still manage to pierce our darkness: “Good,” he tells us, “is what wrenches itself free, finds a language, opens its eyes. In its condition of wrestling free, it is interwoven in history that, without being organized unequivocally toward reconciliation, in the course of its movement allows the possibility of redemption to flash up.”[24]

Arendt locates this redemptive possibility in the human capacity to initiate, to make something new in the space of life between past and future. She describes this feature of our condition, which she calls “natality,” as “the miracle that saves the world.” People, she says, “though they must die, are not born in order to die but in order to begin. . . . Only the full experience of this capacity can bestow upon human affairs faith and hope.”[25] Religious traditions, including the family of traditions collected under the umbrella of Christianity, still know something about such faith and hope, as Arendt herself affirms. [26] For a Christian thinker like Wirzba, the full experience of our capacity for acting, for initiating something new, is rooted in a profession of covenant partnership with the Maker. As such, he would have us understand hope as “more than simply the actualization of past or present potential,” for to “configure hope on a continuum with a sordid and destructive past,” and thus to “base hope on potential as we currently see it,” is to “undermine” it. Hope, for Wirzba, is instead “steeped in the possibility of God to make something new.”[27]

In this space, between a memorial past and an anticipated future, Christians may respond to the creaturely call to faithfully image their Maker. Along these lines, James Olthuis encourages us to understand our human creaturely being as something that is both structured and directed as a gift that is simultaneously a call.[28] Anticipating God’s future redemption as promised in Scripture, an act in which remembrance and hope come together, we will come to embrace the gift of life housed within the human definition. Such an embrace, in turn, also becomes an affirmative response to the call to make room for, and thus help to initiate, redemptive possibilities that will steer us away from the fatalistic acceptance of our damaged present currently prevailing in modern society.

Should we care to think of God’s creative act as the loving act through which God makes space for an other to be, this will determine our understanding of how we might best image God. In creating the world, God pulls back and limits God’s self. God’s creative act can be seen in this way as a paradigmatic act of love, for love makes room for the beloved to be. As creatures called to image such a loving Maker, our lives are to exhibit the same kind of love. By saying “enough,” by saying, “this life as it has been given to me, thought not perfect, is enough,” we choose to embrace life within the human definition as it has been given to us by God. To limit ourselves in this way is also to engage in a similar act of loving space-making as the one God performed. Such divine imaging makes space for God to be a real presence in human life, and makes space in our heart for a world that we may once again experience as, in the words of the Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, charged with “God’s grandeur:”

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Should we care to love God’s good creation in the way Hopkins so eloquently eulogizes, we may come to see it as more than just a standing reserve of resources to mine, or as an ever-expanding frontier which it is forever our manifest destiny to push back.Today’s Christian, I submit, needs to consider deeply the possibilities afforded by understanding their faith in such terms. Can we come to understand our faith in terms of the sacrifice and courage that living such a God-imaging life requires? Will we open ourselves to the grace we must receive in order to be able to hit that human note with something that approaches perfect pitch? To speak personally for a moment, and to push this musical metaphor just a bit, I would like to say that, while I am afraid that my life will in some sense always be out of tune, or at the very least a repeated exercise in tuning and being attuned, I can at least gratefully say that I have come to have a much clearer sense of the divine song I want my heart to sing, of the divine dance in which I wish my life to take part.

I now see faith in terms of a life contoured by such an artful performance. My faith is shaped by the desire and the attempt to craft a life that, in love, embraces the human definition and, in making space for others, in preparing a place for them, is also a blessing to those others—that, to me, is what it means to describe faith as the art of the possible.

Am I religious? In hope, I answer: “Yes, I am.”


[1] See H. Evan Runner, The Relation of the Bible to Learning (Toronto: Wedge, 1970). See also Kai Nielsen and Hendrik Hart, Search for Community in a Withering Tradition: Conversations between a Marxian Atheist and a Calvinian Christian (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990). Hart puts forward a compelling case for the inescapability of religious starting points in philosophical argumentation, not to mention life as a whole.

[2] While I do not pretend to speak for people of other faiths, in what follows I do not necessarily wish to exclude them either.

[3] See Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1977), 94.

[4] Max Weber (1946), 155, 139. Whether he shares the opinion or is merely describing it, Weber here effectively illustrates the rather presumptuous modern understanding of premodern religious and ritual practice as so many versions of the same mistake, that is, as so many forms of failed empirical science. For a criticism of this understanding, see Ludwig Wittgenstein, Remarks on Fraser’s Golden Bough, ed. Rush Rhees (Nottinghamshire: Brynmill, 1971).

[5] See Peter L Berger, ed. The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).

[6] Danièle Hervieu-Léger, Religion as a Chain of Memory, trans. Simon Lee (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2000), 127.

[7] Hervieu-Léger, 129.

[8] Ibid., 137-38.

[9] Rodney Brooks, Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us (New York: Pantheon, 2002), 53, cited in Bill McKibben, Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age (New York: Times Books, 2003), 99.

[10] Brooks, 212, cited in McKibben, 68.

[11] McKibben, 202. Jürgen Habermas puts forward a trenchant critique of the scientistic anthropology that informs people like Brooks. See Jürgen Habermas, “Faith and Knowledge,” especially 331-32, in Eduardo Mendieta, ed. The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers (New York: Routledge, 2005).

[12] Berry, 94.

[13] Hervieu-Léger 2000, 130.

[14] Ibid., 138.

[15] I am here reminded of Theodor W. Adorno’s rather pessimistic description of what has become of religion in this modern context: “Religion is on sale, as it were. It is cheaply marketed in order to provide one more so-called irrational stimulus among many others by which the members of a calculating society are calculatingly made to forget the calculation under which they suffer,” see Adorno, “Theses upon Art and Religion Today,” p. 678, Kenyon Review (1945) 7/4: 677-82.

[16] Jürgen Habermas, “Israel or Athens: Where does Anamnestic Reason Belong?” in The Liberating Power of Symbols: Philosophical Essays, trans. Peter Dews (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), 79.

[17] Norman Wirzba, The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 166.

[18] McKibben, 208, 210.

[19] Hervieu-Léger, 141.

[20] See Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind: Vol. I: Thinking (San Diego: Harcourt, 1978), 202-13.

[21] Arendt, The Life of the Mind, 212. Arendt takes the images of coral and pearls from the following passage in Shakespeare’s Tempest (Act I, Scene 2): “Full fathom five thy father lies, / Of his bones are coral made, Those are pearls that were his eyes. / Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange.”

[22] Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative: Volume 3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 227-28. See also Ricoeur, “Hermeneutics and the Critique of Ideology,” in From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1991), 306: “nothing is more deceptive than the alleged antinomy between an ontology of prior understanding and an eschatology of freedom. We have encountered these false antinomies elsewhere: as if it were necessary to choose between reminiscence and hope! In theological terms, eschatology is nothing without the recitation of acts of deliverance from the past.”

[23] Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 1.

[24] Theodor W. Adorno, “Progress,” Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords, trans. Henry W. Pickford (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 148.

[25] Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 246-47.

[26] Arendt’s chapter on “Action” in The Human Condition ends with these words: “It is this faith in and hope for the world that found perhaps its most glorious and most succinct expression in the few words with which the Gospels announced their ‘glad tidings:’ ‘A child has been born unto us.’” In addition to crediting this historical tradition with originating the notions of forgiveness and promise, she also claims that “[a]ction is, in fact, the one miracle-working faculty of man, as Jesus of Nazareth, whose insights into this faculty can be compared in their originality and unprecedentedness with Socrates’ insights into the possibilities of thought, must have known very well when he likened the power to forgive to the more general power of performing miracles, putting both on the same level and within the reach of man,” 246-47.

[27] Wirzba, 54.

[28] See James H. Olthuis, “Be(com)ing Humankind as Gift and Call,” Philosophia Reformata (1993) 58: 153-172.