THE SENSE OF ABSENCE by Geddes MacGregor


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It is no longer the presence of God but his absence,"" wrote Johann Holderlin, ""that reassures man."" And it is on this absence of God, as distinguished from the death of God, that Dr. MacGregor (University of Southern California) has written his sixteenth book. ""Absence of God"" must, of course, be understood on the personal level, according to MacGregor's thesis, for only at that level does a sense of God's absence presuppose a previous sense of God's presence. The presence of God, which is the ideal of the spiritual life both within and without the Christian churches, is an exceptional state, experienced rarely, while the sense of God's absence is the normal state of humankind and must not be interpreted as abandonment by God of the individual. Having established such necessary distinctions, Dr. MacGregor explains how, in that sense, one is able to ""live without God,"" both in one's personal life and in the all-too-obvious absence of God from many concerns of the churches, and how one must pursue the ""sense of absence"" in order to attain to a sense of God's presence-in-absence. On the face of it, it may appear that the author is bogged down in semantics; in reality, he touches upon one of the fundamental truths of religious belief and practice: that man, if he is to live in a way pleasing to God, must, in the words of Bonhoeffr, live as though there were no God. MacGregor's lively style and particularly germane observations on that subject will make The Sense of Absense a welcome addition to the libraries of Christians of all denominations.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1967
Publisher: Lippincott