My recent post LeGuin on Theology garnered the following response from a friend:
You’re equating theology with science fiction?
Well, that’s not what I was getting at with that post. But come to think of it, theology is like science fiction. A further interaction with the same LeGuin introduction can help us understand why.
In reading a novel, any novel, we have to know perfectly well that the whole thing is nonsense, and then, while reading believe every word of it.
Perhaps Christians and non-christians can agree that “God became man” is nonsensical, at least when it comes to human rationality. That is, the story of Jesus’ incarnation, baptism, temptation, ministry, passion, death, and resurrection is impossible, humanly speaking. Yet we believe it, because we trust in God.
Words can thus be used paradoxically because they have, along with a semiotic usage, a symbolic or metaphoric usage. . . . All fiction is metaphor. Science fiction is metaphor. What sets it apart from older forms of fiction seems to be its use of new metaphors . . .
Theology is metaphor. That is not to say that it is not true. Quite the contrary, theology as metaphor is supremely true. Rather, theology is necessarily metaphor because “no one has seen God at any time.” However, God has sent his Logos to be the living metaphor between himself and humanity. The incarnation was a new metaphor, a means by which God had never before revealed himself. So theology is like science fiction not in that it is fiction, but in that it uses special metaphors to communicate God to man.