Not Being Content With God: Contestation and Contradiction in Communities under Duress


Feminist criticism
Trauma hermeneutics
Forced Removals


The title of this paper is derived from John Caputo’s recent book The Folly of God: A Theology of the Unconditional (Polebridge Press, 2016). In this book, Caputo makes the claim that it is “in the best interest of theology not to be content with God” (p1). He shows the importance of challenging what he calls “weak theology that gives words to God, to what is going on in the name (of) God (p53).” This ironically is done in terms of the “weakness of God” – something that he calls the unconditional, undeconstrutable tenants of a type of proto-religion rooted in faith, hope, love and justice (p35). With this contemplation on new quests for God in mind, this paper proposes that it is exactly in communities under duress that new language for God emerges that forms an essential aspect of survival.

This paper seeks to investigate the contradictory images for God found in the story of Jeremiah in prison (Jeremiah 20), which reflects the deep paradox of faith experienced by the prophet that quite likely also belonged to the people in exile. So Jeremiah the one moment can say in so many words that he hates God, that God has violated him (20:7). But in the same breath, he can confess God to be the Liberator-Warrior God who delivers the needy from the hands of evildoers (20:11, 13).

Bringing the portrayal of God in Jeremiah 20 into conversation with other compelling images of God in communities experiencing severe trauma such as during the Holocaust as well as the Forced removals in Apartheid South Africa, I propose that new images for God that are marked by contradiction serves as a mean of challenging traditional, often simplistic understandings of God. Such images that are not content with God are vital if God is going to survive together with the people.


Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).