Seeking the God Beyond
A Beginner's Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality
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Apophatic theology, or negative theology, attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.
It is a way of coming to an understanding of who God is which has played a significant role across centuries of Christian tradition but is very often treated with suspicion by those engaging in theological study today. This book seeks to introduce students to this oft-misunderstood form of spirituality.
Beginning by placing apophatic spirituality within its biblical roots, the book later considers the key pioneers of apophatic faith and a diverse range of thinkers including C S Lewis and Keats - to inform us in our negative theological journey.
A final section explores what difference a negative theological approach might make to our practice and our liturgy.
Introduction: Speak of Me as I Am
Part 1 Biblical Roots
- Moses: The Fire and the Cloud
- The Song of Songs
- John the Baptist, Apophatic Prophet
- Jesus: Word and Silence
Part 2 The ‘Negative Way’
Part 3 Pioneers of Apophatic Faith
- Gregory of Nyssa
- The Dionysian Corpus
- Meister Eckhart
- Nicholas of Cusa
Part 4 Allies on the Journey
- Keats’ Negative Capability
- Zen’s ‘Don’t-Know Mind’
Part 5 Apophatic Practices
- Exuberance: Saying and Unsaying in Parable and Poetry
- Prayer ‘in the Cave of the Heart’
Afterword: Running Towards a Stone Tomb
'This is a timely and very accessible book for an age desperately needing depth as well as direction. The Apophatic way of faith is simply life changing. At the place where words and imagination must rightly fail, the Apophatic way guides us into the inexpressible mystery and presence of the living God.' -- David Runcorn, author of “Spirituality Workbook: A guide for pilgrims, explorers and seekers.”
'This is an important, timely and delightful book. Janet Williams carries deep learning with grace and style. Her book is packed with a deeply human wisdom and yet points to something far greater and much more glorious. Here is the God who can truly save us from ourselves.' -- David Hoyle, Dean of Bristol