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Title: Geen werkelijkheid zonder fictie en geen fictie zonder werkelijkheid
Subtitle: Een kritische analyse van Kuiterts kenleer
Author(s): BRINKMAN, Martien E.
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 55    Issue: 4   Date: 2015   
Pages: 338-357
DOI: 10.2143/TVT.55.4.3197447

Abstract :
Heel wat theologen hebben na verloop van tijd teruggeblikt op de veranderingen die zich in de loop der jaren in hun werk hebben voorgedaan. Ook H.M. Kuitert deed dat regelmatig. De meest radicale veranderingen hebben zich bij hem op het gebied van de kenleer voltrokken. De vraag die dan altijd meteen rijst, is die van de continuïteit en de discontinuïteit. Kondigden die veranderingen zich al vroeg aan en betreft het dus eigenlijk meer een explicitering van iets dat voordien nog impliciet was gebleven, of gaat het echt om een keerpunt in zijn werk? Kuitert zelf laat doorgaans beide opties open. Herhaaldelijk heeft hij erop gewezen dat hij na het jaar 2000 een wissel omzette. Vanaf die tijd stelt hij het realiteitskarakter van de godsvoorstelling openlijk ter discussie vanuit zijn kenleer. Die kentering schemert al door in het vraaggesprek met zichzelf dat de bundel Kennismaken met Kuitert uit 1999 afsluit.



This article describes the epistemological shifts that can be observed in the theology of Dutch theologian Kuitert. These shifts rather complicate the interpretation of his theology and will at some point form a problem for its reception. The article opens by looking at the discussion caused by Kuitert’s famous oneliner from 1974, ‘Any talk of above, stems from below’. This elicited critical reactions from New Testament scholar T. Baarda and theologian E. Schillebeeckx. Kuitert considered any doctrinal pronouncement to be a design for an attempt at finding (or experiencing) God. Around the turn of the century, he changed his mind and now believed that one would have to resort to a circular argument to find God in this way: First, theology formulates the characteristics of a faith in God, and next, it concludes that the search does indeed have these characteristics. It would never be able to find anything new this way. From 2000 onward, this leads him to believe that a faith in God cannot be based on anything outside ourselves and must therefore be based on a reality within ourselves, viz. on our own ‘imaginings’. He now changed his position to: First there were human beings, and next, there was/were god(s). He literally says that our faith in a God is a product of our imagination. This does not mean he wants to play down the role of a faith in God. No human being can live without imagination. Imagination gives meaning to things that would otherwise remain devoid of meaning. According to Kuitert, a theology that engages with this aspect is a hermeneutical theology; a type of theology he believes is quite distinct from a scholarly theology. A scholarly theology should ideally engage itself with a reality that also exists outside ourselves. However, considering the hermeneutical circle mentioned above, this is beyond theology’s capabilities. This article critically assesses his strict distinction between hermeneutical and scholarly theology and assumes there can be no reality without fiction and no fiction without reality. Even the natural sciences have to make do with the limited access we have to the reality outside ourselves in the form of notions (theories). For that reason, epistemology and ontology are difficult to clearly distinguish from each other. Notions do not simply pop up, they are evoked by reality. Yet at the same time, reality corrects our notions too. The author relies on this entanglement of fiction and reality to expressly postpone any judgements on the reality of our pronouncements on God.

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