Until a few years ago I hadn't even heard of the term " Theopoetics " until I started reading Callid Keefe Perry, and being turned onto authors such as Stanley Hopper, David Leroy Miller, and Amos Niven. Todays explorers of theopoetics like Peter Rollins, Catherine Keller, John Caputo and Philip Clayton continue to stretch me, providing kindling, sparking and igniting my imagination to discover a langauge of theological mystery.
The word Theopoetics is derived from the Classic Greek noun poema and the verb poiein; "a created thing" and "to make," respectively. And " Theo " is Greek for God.
The English author Samuel Johnson wrote, "The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new."
Percy Shelley added, "Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world."
Theopoetics is to work in the intersection of these ideas: theopoetics is the theory and practice of making God known, particularly through language.
I think it is easy to mix theopoetics up with " Negative Theology or Apophatic Theology." In negative theology, and I think we would a agree that God is ineffable, unknowable. In Jesus, we have seen, and heard God, but even in that we swim on the surface of the infinite mystery of God.
We wrestle with the existence or non-existence of God, but it takes us to the outer limits of our imagination where we are literally on the very edge of knowing, where we have to let go and reach for something beyond, something we can not confine and capture in human words. We can not say God exists in the usual sense that something exists.
Even with our Trinitarian theology, we can't confine God as one, or three...or really any type of being. It's like trying to stop an atom in motion to look at an one particle...as soon as that happens, the atom no longer exists. It is best to leave God as being simply divine.
Even the challenge of knowing the " Wisdom " of God...can we really claim to know what wisdom is on a divine scale. Maybe diving into the depths of Jobs story will remind we really are ignorant in terms of knowing God.
We can't say God is a creation, or is creation...but is much more. We wrestle, and reach to try and define how God exists and operates in the context of creation and humanity.
Can we really define God in terms of location and space. God lives in Heaven, and not hell. God is only seen in light, not dark. God only occupies the sacred space, and not the secular.
For me, all this is where I've come to understand " Theopoetics." 'Once I was found...now I am lost' ;' Once I was blind...now I am blinder' ", could certainly sum up my faith journey. I think for many who are comfortable in " church " culture " Theopoetics " is dangerous. It is like lifting anchor, untying the rope from the dock and drifting into the profound mystery of the divine. But, I really believe if we want to engage the world in the new Millenium, we will have to loosen our grip on our " theology ." There is a spiritual hunger in the world...but we will not satisfy its craving with a language, and theological constructs from days gone by. We can tie more ropes to our ship, throw out heavier anchors...or we can drift, engage in a new kind of God Talk.