Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Mushy, Fuzzy God?

I received this in an email newsletter the other day:

God is not a Christian

We should in humility and joyfulness acknowledge that the supernatural and divine reality we all worship in some form or other transcends all our particular categories of thought and imagining, and that because the divine -- however named, however apprehended or conceived -- is infinite and we are forever finite, we shall never comprehend the divine completely.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I know this will ruffle a lot of feathers, but I find this meaningless. From beginning to end it is full of nice-sounding puffery, but fails to provide any good insight into who God might actually be.

First of all, why would God be a Christian? Christians are humans who are followers of Jesus Christ. The title is category mistake masquerading as profundity.

Humility is not the same thing as ceasing to think about issues and draw boundaries, distinctions and judgments. Humility is more about a disposition to the truth, not our refusal to distinguish the truth from falsity.

The idea that the divine transcends all our categories is a popular way of stopping thought about who or what the divine really is. In one way Tutu is right, but in significant ways he is wrong. It is true, as the Christian tradition has always taught, that our conceptions of God are analogous – not exhaustive. Being analogous means we have a grasp on true ideas, but only a grasp. It is true that God is love, and that love has boundaries, but we will not know completely what that means until the next life. Where he, and so many others, goes wrong is concluding we can’t know anything about the divine with certainty.

We can know with certainty that the divine is not both triune and not triune in the same way at the same time. We can know with certainty that salvation is not both through martyrdom and not through martyrdom at the same time. The list of contradictory beliefs between different religious systems is longer than we care to acknowledge in our age of religious tolerance and to brush them aside with a slightly dismissive wave of the hand is to treat every religion on the face of the planet as insignificant and unserious. No religious system of any consequence ought to be happy with his assessment of their beliefs and practices.

This email was produced by the Emergent Village. I am frustrated, but not all that surprised, that this seems to fit well with their vision of the Christian religion.

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