The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

God, as we don't know him

I randomly fell upon this website. It's hard to read and the girl is quite cynical and hopeless, but she says some things that I've heard elsewhere (and some things I haven't). Her honest frustrations are important, and they are not unique to her. She writes:

"God will understand if I can't refer to God as "Him" (I have a hard time with the concept that God might be male, or female, or anything resembling a human at all)...."

Back at Barnes & Noble, I had a conversation with a coworker about "God." He expressed the same hesitation. He recoiled at the tame god that Christianity seems to believe in: "I think God is so much higher and beyond our imagination, so completely unlike us, than how Christianity conceives."

I agree.

God is nothing like us. He has no body (unless you're a Mormon), no form. God doesn't have "eyes" or "a mighty hand and outstretched arm." A follower of Jesus who reads the Bible knows that "God is not a man that he should tell a lie." Job learned hard lessons about who God was and was not. And, while I've been referring to God as a "he," I too believe that God is neither male or female.

God is so unlike us that in order for us to know him at all, he must communicate himself in words and forms we understand. We humans have big enough minds to think about him but small enough brains to have limited understanding. So while God is "wholly other," I believe that he has translated his "otherness" into forms we can grasp: into the "he" pronoun for ease of reference, into body-like features of arms and feet and ears for us to scratch the surface of understanding his being. All those words and pictures are sorts of metaphors for our minds to work with, things that we can relate to.

Yet even those forms and words truly fail in providing a picture. Job's friends spend 33 (of 42) chapters citing very good theology (that looks much like ours), but when God shows up, it suddenly seems very useless.

We must be honest and recognize our words and ideas tremble on the verge of God. They are adequate, I believe, giving us the basics. Still, they turn out to be musical notes in clefs, though we have not heard the music. They are baseball statistics, but we have never seen the game played. Metaphors suffice, but they do not contain. They will lead us to important insights and leave us wanting more. They supply knowledge, but they retain mystery.