Read Along with Pastor Matt: Simply Christian part 3-God

Posted: December 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

The Christian story claims to be the true story about God and the world.

As such, it offers itself as the explanation of the voice whose echo we hear in the search for justice, the quest for spirituality, the longing for relationship, the yearning for beauty.  None of these by itself points directly to God–to any God, let alone the Christian God.  At best, they wave their arms in a rather general direction, like someone in a cave who hears an echoing voice but has no idea where it’s coming from.”

Bishop Wright believes in apologetics (i.e., systematic arguments for the reasonableness of the Christian faith) but he is quick to point out that they only get one so far and, more importantly, it is imperative that people know what Christians mean when they speak about “god.”

Too often people assume that what we mean about “god” is a grumpy old man who sits on a throne far away from us in the sky somewhere in a place called heaven, but such a portrait is actually very different from the one painted by the Christian story.

Avoiding the heretical errors of pantheism and panentheism (Google them!), Wright argues that heaven is actually a realm very close to us and often interlock and overlap with our own space. 

For example, in the book of Genesis, Jacob is allowed to see a pathway that looks like a ladder where angels of God ascend and descend.  Later, in the book of Exodus and throughout much of the Hebrew Bible, we see the Temple as a place where the presence of God dwells powerfully while still reigning in “heaven.” Finally, we see heaven and earth interlock and overlap in the person of Jesus himself.

The God who dwells in both spaces is mysterious to be sure (3 in 1, eternal, all-powerful, pure yet madly in love with broken, selfish creatures like us) and, as such “[a]ll language about God is ultimately mysterious, but that is no excuse for sloppy or wooly thinking.”

So, we know that God is not a grumpy old man far away from us but is closer to us than we can grasp but if God is not what we have been led to be believe then who is He? How do we do justice to His mystery yet avoid “sloppy or wooly thinking”? For that we must take a close look at the story of Israel and Jesus himself but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

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