Monday, December 30, 2013

A Non-Theology of God

I normally do not take requests for blog topics. This is my personal space to write whatever is on my mind. But a friend posted a question on Facebook in response to my blog about unboxing God. (The Unboxed God) In that blog I explained what God is not. He wanted me to write a blog about who God is.

The request seems reasonable, but it is fraught with danger. Not the least is the danger to me. I might start thinking that I understand God! That is spiritually deadly for a minister. Furthermore people might believe what I write and therefore think that they also understand God.

Talking about God is called theology. Theology is articulated in doctrine, which becomes dogma, creed and catechism. People learn “truths” about God, and they think they know who God is. They think that holding to beliefs about God is faith in God. It is better to know that we don’t know than to fool ourselves into thinking we understand God.

That is not to say we should not try to speak about God. We have to try. To keep silent about God does not help people know God. That is why I am a preacher. It would not do for me to stand up in front of a congregation and remain silent.

So what do I say? Sometimes I use the traditional words of Christian theology - words like perfect, holy, good, infinite, eternal, and love. I even capitalize them to make them sound more divine: Perfect, Holy, Good…. These words aren’t untrue, but they are not exactly true either. It is like saying that “eternal” is a really long time or that the universe is “really big.” 

When someone asks me about God I want to reply, “Why are you asking? If you truly want to know, see for yourself! Open your eyes!” It feels like someone asking me to describe a tree while standing in front of a tree. Just look for yourself! God is so obviously present and clear for me that I forget that most people do not notice God.

How do you get the blind to see that which is invisible? I refer people to Jesus. He is known for giving sight to the blind. He made God visible. The apostle John wrote: “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18 NIV) I let Jesus make God known to them.  

I try to lead people into the Presence of God through the teachings and living Presence of Jesus Christ. I try to nudge them, cajole them, bump them, push them, or shock them into noticing the obvious. I do whatever I can to show people God.

But describe God? It is impossible. Furthermore it is unnecessary. It is a sideshow for religious people, a substitute for spiritual experience. Why not experience God directly?  To know God all we have to do is give up everything. Give up our selves. Give up our lives. Give up our religion and our theology. When we stop trying to capture God in words and ideas, then we can know the Reality of God. 

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