>What an amazing week of conversations on the Blog, Facebook and email! Thank you all for your contributions. I have much to think about. Next week we will address the nature of Divine Power.
Here are the three things that I want to say:
God is always being incarnated
God is always dying
God is always conquering death
in this sense: there is a perpetual new life, there is a ongoing crucifixion, and there is constant resurrection.
We are always embodying God. We are forever dying to ourselves. We are continuing to rise (baptized) into a new life.
For the Christian, it is always Christmas, it is always Good Friday and it is always Easter Sunday.
Here are three exchanges I wanted to follow up on:
Dave: Meister Eckart – “I pray that God would rid me of God”.
Me: This line of reasoning is SOOOOO explosive!
We love it when the Apostle Paul said “through the law I died to the law” in Galatians 2:19
but we may not like it as much as when a John Caputo says “through religion I died to religion” or something similar.
Sara: I’ve been thinking about this idea all day. Was wondering your thoughts on how this play out in our relationships, For instance because Christ died for me and my sins ( including the one where I felt he failed me) Did he not also die for the people in our lives that did not meet our expectations? And because they failed us we hold back our love. (conditional love). God does not conditionally love us so are we suppose to conditionally love other people?
Me: Here is how I would answer this.
1. Jesus died not just FOR our sins but BECAUSE of our sins. We are to blame too.
2. God loves us unconditionally. We are not God. We love conditionally.
3. In Christ (!) we move toward a MORE unconditional capacity to love. We grow, develop and mature in that direction. It is not a destination. It is not a pass/fail assignment. It is not a trick or a test… It is a direction that we move in Christ.
They fail us, we fail God, God forgives us, we forgive them. Let mercy flow, let justice reign, and let kindness ring all around!!
Philip: Gods die, or perhaps more to the point, Gods evolve. The Israelite god does this before our own eyes as we read scripture. But perhaps more interesting is that this evolution takes place in a particular narrative, and only evolves as the people telling the story change. This is interesting to me because it deals less with some ontological change in God and more of a change in us, the storyteller.
That isn’t some lazy excuse like: “god is the same yesterday, today and forever” that’s bull crap. God clearly changes, or at least, when you look at our account of god over a long period of time, you see a character that is not stagnate but incredibly dynamic in how he/she is portrayed. But that’s kind of my point, when we say “that is what God is like” we are using our language, which only makes sense in a certain social context to describe something rather profound. It is inevitable that the character would change as the storyteller changes.
Perhaps if we began to see god as truly “with us”, and not in the “like a best friend” kind of way, but in a way that connects us to god in a real and profound way that blurs the lines of distinction, then that might takes us down a road where our views and descriptions of god are not the process of uncovering the one true god, rather they are the process of expressing the god within and surrounding us (collectively and individually) and the interaction that takes place there.
Thanks Bo for the rich and nuanced take on this issue.
ps. I was talking to a older conservative family member who was shocked that I didn’t think God was in control of everything, because as he said ” it brings me great comfort to know that a tragic event happened for a reason” I replied more or less like this “That view of god doesn’t bring me comfort at all, rather that god makes me mad, if God had a reason for a 5 year old being raped then God is a mad man.” Needless to say that conversation didn’t go over very well.
Me: Philip, thank you for being so honest and clear. Two things I want to respond to:
– You are right that it is not ‘god’ who changes but it is WE who change and our understanding that evolves. That is important, I have been having amazing conversations all week with people telling me about their previous conception of God dying. NOW – it was not the Living God who died but their understanding of God.
This is important because we are not saying that “there is no God” but that the former conception of “God is dead”. I say this because I believe that the Son of God died and that many conceptions of God died on that Cross.
- I got in trouble with someone who was talking about “God being in control” of everything, then later was sad about the passing of a friend. I said “Jesus must have been mad at that guy to kill him like that.” They objected. To which i responded “you can’t if both ways”.
I also wrote about this for Football Jesus [link].
Next Tuesday, the post is on Divine Power. This is what I will tackle.
January 19, 2011 at 10:49 am
>A lot of this conversation sounds to me like we creatures are telling our creator how things need to be run. And if God doesn't run them as we think, according to our incomplete moral compass, then god after all isn't really worth believing in.The problem of saying "Job's God died on the cross" is that that god was never really alive, never existed accept in our petty imaginations.God is quoted as saying "I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth." (Jer. 9.24)All three qualities reside in God. You might say that they make up God's personality profile. The problem is that it is difficult for finite creatures, trapped in time to see all of these qualities operating so that when we see evil and suffering we conclude that God isn't really righteous or just or both.The respondent who says, "You can't have it both ways" is falling into the trap of making a false dichotomy. You actually can have it both ways. That is what the unfolding tapestry of Scripture is affirming. It affirms that Evil exists and that God is in control.
January 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm
>OK -I was kind of with you for a while… but then I saw where you took it and had to go back and reinterpret my initial connection 🙂 The simplest way to say it is probably this: you are right in that it was not the living God who dies but our conception of God. That god never really existed. Except that – that same good still exists in people's mind and shows up in preacher's explanations of horrific events and tragedies. So what I can say is that 'the god' was never alive and that it was suppose to die in the greater revelation of Christ and realization of what kind of God we really have: one who sacrifices and serves. What I can not say is that "god is in control'. God is NOT in control the way that were were told God was. God works with what IS, not in a dominating , scientist in his lab sort of way, but in a farmer in his field – groom with his lover sort of way. Partnership and interaction. It is not control. Not like that. It is more seductive than overpowering, More invitational that commanding.