Following this course returns us to an earlier tradition, to a metaphysic of persons exemplified in the expressions of lived faith. This draws upon the logic of personal identity: what it means to be, or rather, to become, a person. Hence, journey’s end lies in a Feuerbachian anthropology of theology or ‘anthropotheism’. Like Farrer, Feuerbach used the believer’s language to relocate theology and philosophy within a framework that makes fertile use of anthropomorphic personifications to ‘think’ God.
Revisiting the personalist presuppositions of metaphysics in this way throws light on the most vital questions of personal identity. To answer them is to ‘draw’ reality on a grander scale than either realism or consequentialism is capable of. Most importantly, it is locate our place within that image.
Doing theology dynamically or psychologically informed – as both Farrer and Feuerbach insisted – means recognising the constitutive role such images play in self-construction. Without active participation in our ideals and aspirations, we cannot become persons at all; participation entails the enactment of our prospective selves. This returns us to the practice of piety: faith in a Godly person. Here we find the reconstruction of Feuerbach’s anthropology as applied theology and, by extension or amplification, the completion of Farrer’s personalist metaphysics.
The focus of interpretation is the hermeneutics of ‘kenosis’: the subject’s ability to be open towards the other to the point where man can be seen as a place of ‘God’, a place where the infinite attains to finite existence. Does this mean that the kenotic subject totally disappears from the arena of his own life, to reach out for a sublime existence that is no longer of ‘this world’ – as in the philosophy of Plato, Plotinus and certain mystical thinkers? This book will argue the reverse: the kenotic sublimity developed by Levinas is in keeping with ethics, and even with concrete acts of responsibility. Also, it refers to a certain idea of God, who comes into being in a ‘kenotic’ way: by giving himself in the ethical experience of man and woman, regardless of their culture and religious beliefs.