Theology in the Flesh

Some key ideas discussed in the book:

  • Human embodiment plays a crucial role in our cognitive processes including our thinking about God and the Christian life.
  • Reasoning about religious topics uses the same conceptual structures we use to think about non-religious topics.
  • We use figurative language, particularly metaphors, in order to understand most of our really important religious ideas.
  • There is usually more than one legitimate way to think about topics such as salvation and God. But there are constraints—it is not anything goes.
  • Though there is tremendous cultural variation in concepts there are some panhuman concepts shared by all normal humans.
  • Christians can legitimately expect widespread agreement on some general teachings and then cultural variation on most topics.
  • Conceptual differences between cultures can lead Christian communities to give different meanings to biblical texts.
  • Christians have principled ways to revise or even reject biblical teachings.
  • Christians should exercise humility in knowledge claims concerning a wide variety of topics.
  • Americans commonly think of God as either an authoritative or nurturing parent and these two models lead to vastly different doctrinal and moral stances.
  • Cognitive linguistic notions of prototypes and exemplars are important for Christian moral and spiritual reasoning.
  • God as an agent (person) is the default conceptualization for humans.

John Sanders

John E. Sanders is an American theologian who is a professor of religious studies at Hendrix College. He has published on four main topics: (1) open theism, (2) Christian views on the salvation of non-Christians, (3) Christian views on the nature of hell, and (4) applying cognitive linguistics to theology.

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