chapter  6
9 Pages

Tossed Clean into the New

The first chapter, and the best, of John W. Dixon's Art and the Theological Imagination2 is a fascinating treatment of a significant element in the rela­ tionship between art and theology. In Dixon's opinion the most serious question facing theology in our day is whether or not it has a right to exist. For centuries that right was taken for granted as was its assumed right, in consequence, to exercise authority in religious affairs. Theology, by defini­ tion, is verbal. Dogma, which is theology at its most authoritative, is propositional in essence. Dogma is its verbal statement. Thus, as Dixon points out, 'the whole principle of heresy and persecutions is built on the assump­ tion that a verbal statement so exactly sets forth the sacred that denial of the statement is an offense against the Holy One himself'.3 However, other than for a comparative few, that grant of authority has by now largely been withdrawn. For some theologians the resulting trauma has meant that God, as subdued to theology, is now effectively dead. Without the essential, canonical, authoritative proposition, God is essentially no more for God is no more than what he is authoritatively stated to be.