The Presence of Christ in Qualitative Research: Four Models and an Epilogue

Bård Norheim

(Trykt i Ward, Pete og Tveitereid, Knut (red.): The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Theology and Qualitative Research. Wiley-Blackwell 2022)

Where one encounters the presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, one may come to know God. The article explores this claim theologically and identifies an inescapable, theological paradox: The presence of God in Christ serves as a promise, not a definitive claim to capture ultimate reality in its essence. Theological research – even the research that adopts qualitative methods – needs to relate to this paradox methodologically. On one hand, a God beyond seeing and sensation is made known to us in and through human experience and therefore open to qualitative investigation. On the other hand, this “knowing” may be experienced as highly ambivalent, at least from the point of human experience. Therefore, different hermeneutical models, like the four models developed in this article, could help us to understand theologically what it may imply to use qualitative research in order to explore different modes of presence of the utterly unknowable, the one beyond sensation.