Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Low View of God

Fellow blogger Wes wrote an article recently that expressed an idea that has been gaining ground in my mind over the years. For all our rah-rah God talk, Christians often articulate a rather low view of him to the public at large.

Wes made reference to a well known evangelical pastor who was reminding his listeners that our wives should be taking second seat to God on our priority list. This kind of view was something I heard a lot in my Christian upbringing. Anything one might enjoy or place importance on was in danger of becoming an "idol", taking God's rightful place. I remember one woman, whom I considered to be quite godly when I was young, tell me she had given up her autumn ritual of canning vegetables because she enjoyed it so much that it had become an "idol".

I held this view for a long time, carefully weighing every thing in my life to make sure it wasn't becoming more important than God. I now realize this interpretation of God was nothing more than self-perpetuated oppression.

I look back on this thinking as absolutely ridiculous and an embarrassing misrepresentation of God... as if he could be so insecure. What kind of lame father would I be if I became jealous of the things my son or daughter enjoy? On the contrary, I find myself absolutely fulfilled when I see Kathryn's passion and love of theater or Jacob's joy with books. I love the affection they hold for their friends. Their happiness and joy makes me proud and content as a father.

This is what appeals to me about panentheistic theology. God is not separate or apart from these things; He is in them. God is not in competition with my love for my wife; He resides there.


Redlefty said...

We're right in sync there!

Don said...

I'm with you. Can't see the Source as being insecure. That's a human trait.

The Metzes said...

Brother Lawrence is perhaps more relevant than ever in our fast-paced society . . . he never thought of sweeping the floor or doing the dishes as his idol . . . he found it in the midst of his every day life. I love the quote I read somewhere about a monk who was asked what he would do if he knew for sure Jesus was coming back tomorrow . . . his response? Probably pretty much what I did today. I think God would expect nothing less of us.

The Metzes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay said...

Hey, did you see my post a few days back about panentheism? Just curious. :)

Andrew said...

Yep Kay! I read everything you write! :) I am going to need to make room for some Karen Armstrong reading in the near future.

wellis68 said...

Good stuff! thanks for the link.

I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul declares "...All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God."

All things are yours...

I also think of the "older brother" in the Prodigal Son to whom the father says "everything I have is yours."

Psalm 24 too! "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it."

Now, although I am not sure about Panentheism, and perhaps we can look to Moltmann for the best critiques thereof, I do believe that the God who is "wholly other" and who is radically separate from his creation has also radically opened himself to his creation, taking on flesh to offer salvation and to bring His Kingdom which is "not of this world." It's not haphazardly that we find God in relationships and experiences, it's only when something of the future, of God's eschatological imagination, comes forth into the present and invites us to engage with "the power of the future" (moltmann) therein that we discover that our relationships can be expressions of worship to God.

Andrew said...

I think there is an aspect of panentheism and universalism that go hand in hand. It seems that there is an argument from scripture that one cannot be separate from God (if I go to Sheol, you are there). That is why in the end God has/will reconcile all things to himself. He cannot be all in all otherwise.

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