Eckhart and Apologetics

Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth-century Dominican speculative mystic, is one of my favorite writers. I have two favorite quotes from Eckhart:

“Therefore let us pray to God that we may be free of God that we may gain the truth and enjoy it eternally…” (German sermon 52)


“The truth is such a noble thing that if God were able to turn away from truth, I would cling to the truth and let God go; for God is truth, and all that is in time, and that God created, is not truth.” (German sermon 26)

What I like about Eckhart is that he is so shocking. What does he mean when he says we should pray to God to rid ourselves of God? How could anyone choose to cling to the truth if that means letting God go? What’s going on?

Eckhart is trying verbally to slap us in the face, to get us to recognize that there is a difference between what we think about when we say the word “God” and the ultimate reality, God. There is a difference between talking about God as understood by finite, temporal, contingent beings, and what Eckhart calls the Godhead or the Ground of Being who is beyond Being and Nonbeing. (Paul Tillich borrows this phrase, “Ground of Being,” to speak of God.)

As shocking as these quotes from Eckhart sound, they’re really not so different from what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:14: “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Whether or not one accepts the existence of Satan as an ontological entity (and I do not), this verse does suggest that not everything that looks like it comes from God is actually from God. God is different from what often passes for God. Moreover, Paul repeatedly points to the limits of human knowledge in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12: “For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away…. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been understood.”

If I understand Eckhart and Paul correctly, then Christian apologetics is utterly misguided. As you probably know, apologetics is the attempt to defend the faith against (secular) attacks. But what exactly is being defended? Isn’t it really a defense of “God,” the “God” who was created when human beings were created, the “God” comprehended by finite, contingent, historically conditioned human beings? We should welcome attacks on this God, especially if this God cannot stand up to rational scrutiny. We should pray to God to rid us of God in order to be rightly related to the Ground of Being. And if we have to choose between what “God says” and the truth, always take the truth. God is not always found where God is, but God is always found where the truth is.

How Did People in the Bible Pray?

That’s the question I set out to answer in my book, Ask, Seek, Knock: Prayers to Change Your Life.  I just figured, if we look to the Bible as a sacred text that gives us guidance in spiritual matters, maybe the characters therein exemplified something we can learn from.  So I looked at Old Testament figures, the Psalmist, Jesus, the Apostles, and even leaders in the early, medieval, and modern church.

The result, I think, is a pretty interesting book.  And this week, it’s available for only 99¢.

See below for the Table of Contents.

And see all the Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt books on sale this week.

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Lectio Divina Might Save Your (Prayer) Life

I discovered lectio divina many years ago, during a very spiritually dry time in my life.  In the time since, I have practiced lectio innumerable times, and it’s become a core aspect of my spirituality.  Maybe even more importantly, it’s given me a renewed sense of love and appreciation for the Bible (and that’s saying something).

A few years back, I wrote a book on the practice of lectio divina.  It’s called Divine Intervention: Encountering God Through the Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina, and this week you can get the Kindle version for 99¢.

See below for an excerpt.

And see all the Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt books on sale this week.

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My “Minor Classic” on Spiritual Disciplines (for 99¢!)

Of the books I’ve written, two seem to have the most staying power.  One is Postmodern Youth Ministry, my first book, which has managed to stay on many syllabi for the last decade.

The other is The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life.  I get more appreciative comments on this book than any I’ve written. It’s sold at Renovaré events. And it seems to have some staying power.  While it doesn’t sell like a Richard Foster or Dallas Willard book, it is persistent.

Now, with the cooperation of Zondervan, you can pick up The Sacred Way for 99¢ for this week only.

See below for the Table of Contents and an excerpt, if you want to get a feel for it.

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