An unnerving book, part 2

6 08 2010

I don’t know how coherent this will be because the thoughts are still swirling around, deciding how and when they’ll settle down.

Chapter 4 of Why Christianity Must Change or Die offers the theory that there is not an external God somewhere out in the heavens serving as protector, problem fixer, disciplinarian, performing miracles, etc.

“This God would not be the traditional divine worker of miracles and magic, the dispenser of rewards and punishments, blessings and curses. Nor would this God be the capricious heavenly superparent who comforted us, heard out cries, and became the terrestrial Mr. Fix-It for some while allowing others to endure their pain to the bitter end in a radically unfair world.”

Bishop Spong goes on to write that the psychological sciences have offered the insight that love is the source and creator of life, citing examples of the effect of love on relationships and the lack of love on newborns, etc. I can sit comfortably with that since God is described as Love in the Bible. So if God isn’t external, then God is internal, the Ground of Being that all of us are connected to. It is this connection that when delved into deeper, we become aware of our interconnectedness, interdependence and indivisibility. God is the inescapable depth and center of all that is. Because the Ground of Being is Love, then we are free to be ourselves, give our lives away to others, etc. The purpose of the church, then, is to oppose anything that binds us to something less than the fullest expression of our humanity.

There’s a part of me that wants God to be external/personal. I’m not crazy about the idea of an impersonal God. That is addressed in the chapter. If we have dared to live fully, daring to “love wastefully and abundantly” does this not reflect the image of God? This sounds REALLY personal!

The other question I have is what about the presence of evil? I hope that will be addressed somewhere in the remainder of the book.

Thoughts going through my head as I read this chapter:

  • Insecurity of an impersonal God, but fortunately that was addressed.
  • What about heaven and hell? Or at least life after death – I don’t know what the author’s opinion is but I like believing in that.
  • I can’t drop belief in answered prayers – I’ve experienced being the recipient and seeing others’ prayers answered.
  • I’m glad that I can pick and choose through these ideas – the author definitely isn’t proclaiming he must be believed; I’m enjoying thinking for myself!
  • Bishop Spong’s take on the presence of evil.

I’m taking all this in, thankful that I have the absence of pressure to believe one way or the other; that I have the luxury and challenge to think for myself on these things.

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