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Caveat Lector, dear companion. I have the feeling that you are either about to take the ride with me or you’ll be bailing out of this essay pretty quickly. I wouldn’t blame you if you did the latter, because I am going to write some things that I don’t really understand myself. I just need to put them down to see what I think about them. If I am lucky you may stick around to help me think things through.
What I have been pondering, certainly not for the first time, is a subject that I have come to think of as the persistent and highly misunderstood form of inter-species communication that occurs anytime a human being makes a connection with God. I am convinced that what we THINK is happening when we commune with the Divine is almost certainly not what is, in fact, happening.
The first idea with which I have wrestled for quite some time has to do with our persistent human tendency to make everything that is not human over into our own image, a habit sometimes referred to as anthropomorphizing. We believers in God hear a lot about it from our atheist and agnostic friends, and frankly I am sure that they are mostly right in this regard. Put another way, I think that particular criticism actually reflects an unmistakable and oft-repeated biblical criticism of bad religion.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts (are higher) than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9Too many times we attempt to make God over into a comfortable and only comforting caricature of the Divine. I have come to believe that this tenacious habit is in reality a sign of my doubt and disbelief, not a symptom of faith, because while God is certainly personal, God cannot be construed by any stretch of biblical authority to be human.
The first sign of this is that as Creator, God claims complete responsibility for the universe in which we live.
28 “Hath the rain a father? Or who hath begotten the drops of dew?All of the phenomena named above are forces of nature. They are manifestations of creation that cannot be controlled by human beings. They are not lullabies that reassure us of God’s gentle demeanor, but harbingers of the untamed God, who is not subject to human desires and who does not pander to human emotion.
29 Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath engendered it?
30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
31 “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof over the earth?
34 “Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?
35 Canst thou send lightnings that they may go and say unto thee, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts, or who hath given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can stay the bottles of heaven,
38 when the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together? Job 38:28-38
This is not to say that God does not love us but that the God who loves us is of such immensity of power and purpose that we will not in this lifetime understand the Almighty. God’s discourse with Job stands to remind every would-be believer that genuine faith takes into account ALL of the deeds of the Almighty, not merely those which give us warm and fuzzy feelings. The decay side of existence, including its corrosive, destructive and dismembering realities, is also an expression of the Divine character.
OK, well, that is enough for today. I’ll come back later this week to attempt one or two more ideas that seem to follow on from those I have stated above.
In the meantime, what is your reaction to what I’ve written thus far? Leave a comment.
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