Talking About God: Doing Theology in the Context of Modern Pluralism

by David Tracy and John B. Cobb, Jr.

David Tracy is Professor of Theology at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is author of Blessed Rage for Order (Seabury). John B. Cobb, Jr. is Professor of Theology Emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California, and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies there. He is the author of many books, including The Structure of Christian Existence (Seabury).

This book was published in 1983 by Seabury Press. The text was prepared for Religion Online by Paul Mobley.


(ENTIRE BOOK) Based on Lectures by the two authors at John Carroll University. The meaning of God, and how one approaches God are examined. The scientific view, Buddhism, feminism, and the Christian view all differ in their approach to and in talking about God, but all seek God.


  • Introduction by David R. Mason

    Mason outlines the 1977 Tuohy Chair public lectures by David Tracy and John B. Cobb, Jr. Their theological stances and approaches to meeting them are discussed.

  • Chapter 1: The Context: The Public Character of Theological Language by David Tracy

    Tracy argues for the fully public theological language, an analogical language for the Christian Doctrine. He concludes that any theological discussion in the university must clarify three issues: the fundamental questions of human existence; the proper means to interpret a religious tradition; and the central meanings of any public truth-claims.

  • Chapter 2: The Analogical Imagination in Catholic Theology by David Tracy

    Tracy examines a language he identifies as Analogical Method, which he views as second order to the standards of image, metaphor, symbol, myth, and ritual, yet important in relating to and in discussing God.

  • Chapter 3: Analogy and Dialectic: God-Language by David Tracy

    Tracy first continues to examine neo-Thomism and process traditions, then looks at analogical languages within Protestantism, starting from a negative dialectics view. He concludes that that the languages of analogy and dialectics, too long ignored by many Christian theologians, deserve their traditional central place in the genuinely public theological discussion of God.

  • Chapter 4: God and the Scientific World View by John B. Cobb, Jr

    Cobb’s three lectures deal with three challenges to showing today that God truly exists: how to think of God in a way that is compatible with our scientific world view without removing God’s presence and efficacy from our lives and our world; how to think of God as the one in whom we place our complete trust and yet acknowledge the truth and greatness of a Way (Buddhism) that ignores or denies God; and how to free our thought of God from sexism without losing the profound values that have been bound up with the masculine images of God as Father and as Son. In this chapter he takes on the first challenge: science.

  • Chapter 5: God and Buddhism by John B. Cobb, Jr

    Eastern religions have probed the human depths with remarkable penetration and seen much that we in the West have neglected. Yet they have not found God. Perhaps the question today is not whether or not we believe in God but how we understand inclusive reality and whether within that understanding we find it appropriate to designate the whole or some element as God. Cobb examines the religious insights of Buddhism, and concludes that Buddhism and Christianity ask different questions to which each gives different answers.

  • Chapter 6: God and Feminism by John B. Cobb, Jr

    Cobb holds that if we have in Newton’s God transcendence without wholeness and in Tillich’s God wholeness without transcendence, we need an understanding of God as inclusive of both. We need to think of God as the prod and the lure to liberation and transcendence, and at the same time the inclusive wholeness to which that transcendence distinctively contributes. Now the contemporary women’s movement has raised new questions about God. Does God agree with our deepest attitudes, and thus also oppress women? Although Christianity has been male-oriented in the past, it need not remain so.