Jan-Olav Henriksen
Norwegian School of Theology

God and Human Experience

Project Description:

Religion is a human mode of being in the world that is in need of being interpreted in the light of human evolution and cultural history. Against this backdrop, constructive Christian theology can identify “God” as the main symbol around which different aspects of this being in the world clusters, and provide a systematic account of how this symbol shapes the interpretation of human development and phenomena like life, embodiment, sex, culture, language etc. Crucial for providing a viable understanding of God is, accordingly, to show how God is related to different realms of human experience. Hence, God becomes the specific topic of concern for a theological anthropology. The project will elaborate on how the function, impact and potential of this symbol for the interpretation and understanding of human life in its concreteness.
The approach thus combines insights from the evolution of humankind with materials from theological anthropology; here seen as a way of making sense of the basic and most important identity-shaping features of human experience. Added to this layer is then an analysis and development of a systematic theology where the main “symbol” around which different aspects of this constitution of the human being in the world clusters, namely God. It is seen as crucial for providing a viable understanding of God that this understanding of God can be developed in a way that shows how God is related to different realms of human life as it emerges through its evolutionary history.  

Jan-Olav Henriksen, (born 1961), professor of Systematic Theology (Philosophy of Religion) at (MF) Norwegian School of Theology, and Research Director for Systematic Theology. Also professor of Religious Studies (Contemporary Religion) at the University of Agder, Kristiansand. Henriksen’s main research interests have been theological anthropology, philosophical critique of religion, moral philosophy, Christology, theology in the interdisciplinary field of sciences, and hermeneutics.  Recently, also several more empirically based projects.  Among his latest publications are: Finitude and Theological Anthropology: An Exploration into the Theological Dimensions of Finitude (Peeters, 2011), Difficult Normativity.  Normative issues in 
Research on Religion and Theology. (Peter Lang 2011). Saving Desire (Eerdmans 2011), and Crisis and Change: Religion, Ethics and Theology under Late Modern Conditions (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2012).