Inventing God

November 4, 2010

I
have a friend who washes windows for a living.  I don't know what he used
to do.  According to him he raised horses, made a lot of money, owned
everything he wanted and drank heavily.  He more or less stumbled into
Jesus through an introduction from another friend of mine, an Adventist
pastor.  Now he and Jesus are tight, he's been sober for five or six
years, and he washes windows for a living.  But I digress.

We
got to talking the other day, and he wondered what we would do if we didn't have
God.  Together we decided that we would have to invent a god, which, of
course, is precisely what people do all the time.  I think the best
inventors of god are atheists.  They are very creative in inventing the
god in whom they do not believe.  Sometimes they stitch together a god out
of bits and pieces of scriptural remnants with a trim of Greek, Egyptian or
Nordic myth for decoration.  Sometimes they invent a god out of the whole
cloth of fertile imaginations.  In either case credit is due for creativity. 

By
the way, accolades for creativity do not accrue to would be atheists whose only
talent is caustic sarcasm.  That takes very little creativity. 
Consider some of my own writing as a case in point.  But again I digress.

Sadly,
it's true that we Christians are also fond of creating a god or gods and giving
them the name of Christ or God.  J.B. Phillips' 1953 classic, Your God is too Small, or Philip Yancey's 1995, The Jesus I Never Knew, make that point well.  We take limited
Sunday school teaching carried into adulthood, combine it with sloppy lessons
gained from half listened to sermons, and mix in popularized trash theology to
create, for us Christians, a trinity of gods neatly packaged in little boxes
from which they are allowed to emerge for the limited purposes we have assigned
to them. 

Why
do you suppose that is?  Are we afraid to let God be God?  Is there
something threatening about allowing our own limits of knowledge and ignorance
be transcended by that which is not under our control?

I
wrote earlier about my friend the Rev. Gretchen Rehberg who, when asked if
prayer works, says no.  No, if by prayer you mean asking or telling God
what to do and then sitting back to see if God does it.  God desires
conversation, communion, even arguing it out, but how scary is that? 
Maybe God will have something to say that I don't want to hear.  Maybe God
will want to hear something I don't want to say.  Maybe I'll be forced to
see something in me I don't want to see.  Better to keep God in a box for
occasional display.

Originally posted at Country Parson, part of the CCblogs network.

Comments

Inventing God

Another reason inventing or at least choosing God (god) is that the principal (supposedly) source for our ideas about God is the Bible, and the Bible presents us with diverse and even contradictory images of God that are not easily (or difficulty) reconciled into one neat package. We are forced to choose, and we often do so on some often unarticulated basis. I have come to believe, against my training and theological tradition, that this is inevitable. Even Christians, all Christians, choose their God.
Tom Johnson
Whidbey Island, WA

an atheist responds

Steve Woolley ponders: "We got to talking the other day, and he wondered what we would do if we didn't have God"

Well, why not ask an atheist for starters?

SW asserts: "I think the best inventors of god are atheists.

There's lots of gods out there, arguably an many as their are believers. What God are you talking about and I'll tell you whether I believe in It or not. How's that for not making one up?