Saturday, April 02, 2005

Who is God?

This is an interesting question. If someone were to tell me who God is, where would this person begin? God is truth. God is life. God is all-powerful. God is an indescribable being. God just is. There are so many places to go.

One of my classes (Systematic Theology II) asked this same question. Because it was an academic question, I guess we had to put it in academic type form, so we asked for the whole semester, "What is befitting to say of God?" When we started, I naively thought we were actually going to answer this question. In reality, just in asking this question I was challenged in ways I didn't think were possible.

Consider this: If I want to speak of God only in ways that I find in the Bible (something I want to do), then I am forced to use so many different images. I can't narrow it down to just one. God is a consuming fire. God is my rock. God is my fortress. God is a shepherd. God is a farmer. God is the comforter. God rides on clouds. God is a warrior. The list could go on and on.

One might say, "Well, God is all of these things." True, but how can being a warrior and a peacemaker coincide with each other at the same time. "Different times and circumstances demand different manifestations of God." Okay, but if I am to tell someone that God is x or y, then this person will just dismiss this as being how you view God at this particular time. I think that more can be done when speaking of God.

I guess the modern age has brought about the idea that we can reduce God to short, simple propositional statements. Jesus' parables have one point to make; the stories in the Old Testament have a driving force on which we focus. There is so much more here that we are missing. Life is not as simple as many preachers and teachers seem to make it.

If we learn to speak of God in story (something we find throughout the Bible), we might start getting a glimpse of who he is. Stories are complex. Stories carry ambiguity with them. They don't comment on every aspect of life, but they are helpful in telling us what kind of people we are. May I propose that God is like the man who accepted his youngest son back from the dead having squandered all his wealth in wild living? May I propose that God rescues his people like those he rescued from Egypt? May I propose that God destroys his people who have turned away from him countless times? May I propose that God will restore his people as he restored Jesus? All of these things imply larger stories that give us glimpses into who God is.

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