What is your God like?
I can’t help but wonder . . . perhaps no new C. S. Lewis has surfaced in the past fifty years for the very reason that so few writers are starting with the known and speculating from there.
Rebecca LuElla Miller
In the past few days, I have been following two posts: one at www.mikeduran.com about “glorifying God” in our writing. And, then at www.speculativefaith.com a post about how we portray God in our writing. Both of these posts are pale mirror images of each other for they reflect our imperfect human concept of Truth and God.
As a Christian, I believe my job is to do all to further the kingdom of God. If that is glorifying God, then sobeit. Several of the comments in both posts were disturbing to me. One commenter said the God of the Old Testament commanded us to bash babies heads in. I was appalled. Did I get this wrong? Have I read the Bible and missed that portrayal of God? I don’t think so.
So, this brings up a really good point. We all see God through the lens of our experiences of God. God reveals himself in two ways. He reveals himself through his creation as Paul talked about in Romans 1. But, God has also revealed himself through the scriptures and ultimately, through the incarnation. If our experience of God is more “natural” we may be in danger of worshipping the creation; of making the earth and nature into a demigod. If our experience of God is only from the Old Testament, we may draw the conclusion, right or wrong that God is a hideous monster filled only with jealousy and wrath.
If we experience God only through Jesus, we miss out on the mystery and majesty of the trinity. We must synthesize and merge all concepts of God into our experience.
In our postmodern culture, truth is relative and as a Christian writer, I might find myself asking the question “Can truth be known?” This question implies there may not be such a thing as absolute truth. However, in light of the revealed God in scripture and in nature, truth exists. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. And, no one comes to the Father except through me.” That statement is pretty absolute. There doesn’t seem to be any wiggle room. So, if we have truly experienced the God of the Bible, then as writers and Christians we do not ask a question. We make a statement with our writing and our lives. “Truth can be known.”
I was reading these comments in both of these posts because I wanted to be encouraged. Instead I was greatly distressed and depressed. A standard of communication and writing was established. The standard raised here is one I don’t believe anyone writing today can ever meet. Perhaps it is because we are so steeped in postmodernism that we cannot connect with that foundation of reality that drove Lewis and Tolkien and the other excellent authors of the past century mentioned in these comments.
But, we must TRY. Our culture is increasingly post-Christian and we as Christian authors have the onerous duty of trying to reveal truth to a godless, truthless society. It is hard enough to try and meet the standards of these authors. We will fail. But, we must try. We must strive for excellence and quality. And, we must know the God of the scriptures. We will never agree on our knowledge of God for each of us experiences God in unique ways. But, we can respect the Word of God as the revealed Truth as best as any man or woman could have written it.
I just finished Paul Copan’s book “Is God a Moral Monster?” and listened to an excellent podcast, “Straight Thinking” over on reasons.org featuring an interview with Copans. He made the point that much of the depiction of the God of the Old Testament (who commands us to bash in babies’ heads????) is linked to the literary style of writing at the time. Ah, the literary style?
So, even our Old Testament is subject to the same problems we are talking about in these comments. It is written by man, inspired by God, and we must filter the “knowledge” of the authors through their cultural and geopolitical situation at the time of the writing and take the “monstrous” God of the Old Testament with a grain of salt.
I would rather remember the passage where Moses pleaded with God to show Himself. Here, in Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s “The Book of God” is one human’s interpretation of that scripture:
Now, Moses closed his mouth and lowered his hands and turned his face aside. His hair was like smoke. His brow concealed a difficult thought.
Finally, he whispered, “I pray you, O Lord, show me your glory.”
Straightway the wind died. The yellow air stood still. The mountain hushed, as between the heaves of storm.
All at once the Lord God lifted his prophet bodily and set him down in the cleft of the rock. He covered Moses with his hand — that he might not, by the direct sight of the Holy God, die. Then the glory of the Lord began to pass that crack in the mountain, crying, “The Lord! The Lord!”
Only when he was going away did God remove his hand, and Moses saw the back of him.
But while it went, his glory proclaimed: The Lord, merciful, gracious, slow to anger — a God abounding in love. Forgiving iniquity, blotting out sin, but by no means clearing the guilty —
And Moses, as soon as he saw such majesty, bowed his head and worshiped.
Moses started from the “known”, he saw the back of our God and he wrote about his experience. This is the God I know. This is the God I worship. This is the God I write about!