Saturday, September 22, 2007

what god is it?

When we use the word "god", a good question I think we should ask is "what god is it?" I hope this is not harsh; it is meant only to make us think. I read or hear the words "god" in connection with all kinds of earthly things as seeking or attributing God's blessing to it, but I wonder just how God sees it.

Gods are everywhere, and our view of God might just be more like a god than like the one true god. When we think God's blessing is on whatever we choose to do, we might be headed towards a different god than the one in Scripture to whom we're to pray:

your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

I am fearful of losing sight of the Fear of Isaac and the God of Jacob. The same god, I believe who is the triune God of scripture: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A god who in no way we can figure out or trace his paths or understand.

Let us beware of bringing the name of God so freely as one who approves and blesses our will, our plans, our agendas. This includes the use of the name of God both on an individual as well as national scale. On an international scale this would be getting closer to what God is all about as we see from scripture, God's kingdom ruling over all. But even that use of the word "god" is subject to idolatry as we make God in our own fallen image, rather than in Jesus being lifted more and more into the true image of God.

So let's be careful about how we use God's name and with what we associate his name with. Let's be more sensitive and humble about this, asking God that we would know God for who God really is. That we would avoid making God into something God is not. And that our lives would be in line with God's will, not that God would be in line with us.

I know this is a heavy subject for a Saturday and a weekend. But what thoughts might you want to add here?


odysseus said...

I completely agree here Ted (which is something I rarely do. I have often used 'god' in place of 'God' and have been reprimanded for it. I try and think about my audience and since most are Christian, I use 'God'. However, even in Christian circles, 'God' may not necessarily be the right way of putting it. There are those who hold to Calvinism who see god one way and those who hold to Arminianism who see god another way. So, it's a tough road.

I think it is further complicated by exactly what you posted here. We stamp god's involvement on even the most evil of things all the while I think that Jesus is standing among us weeping with us.

Bishop Wright wrote something that I had never thought before. He stated (and I'm paraphrasing) that people think Christians take the OT image of god and then slap Jesus on to the end of the story forcing him into that image. Historically, Christians have started with Jesus and redefined the image of God from him.

I think that is helpful. We can ask 'What did Jesus do?' and see if we can implement his actions in our own time. But, I agree. We should be very careful (and perhaps a bit leery) of putting god's stamp of approval on whatever we do.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

Anonymous said...

very good thoughts.

i want to please God, and i want His will to be done.

and thinking about having my words reflect that, is something to seriously consider.

an important part of the Spirit guiding me and changing me, is to realize how much i can get in the way of that if i do not respect God for who He is...the Almighty.

and even more important than that is how serious of a thing it is to disrespect God.

so these thoughts are very welcome to me to hear.

good post.

Ted M. Gossard said...

OD, Thanks for the good thoughts. Interesting thought from N.T. Wright. I've noticed the Jesus of the white horse in Revelation being brought into the picture of how we're to live in the world in Christ today, another mistake, I believe.

I think we have to stay in scripture and in orthodox theology, in scripture with the church, and let God be God as given to us there, with all the problems for us that poses.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Yes, we need to be careful of how we speak of God and how we look at God. We're ever prone to idolatry, I'm sure. At the same time we can wrestle with God and ask him the hard questions we have. But then we have to bow to God and his will over our own and over all things, and especially we must be intentional in this when we don't understand.

sacred vapor said...

hi Ted,
interesting post to ponder. It seems that Jesus as the face of God seems to be my initial entry into God's presence.

BTW... I just read your comment on my latest post and had some questions for you on the NP... if you get a chance, maybe you could revisit and chime in a resource. The NP is something I have been thinking about... and wondering if I am on the right track with it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Sacred Vapor, Yes. I agree we know God through the human face of Jesus.

NP is interesting. My take on it is limited, though I do think it is helpful in basic ways. I'll go there and see what I might add.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Great post! We human beings do have a knack for making God in our image.

Stanley Hauerwas used to say to us in class, "The Bible is not concerned with God's existence; it is concerned with what kind of God exists."


Ted M. Gossard said...

Wow, Allan, you were in Stanley Hauerwas' class. Neat. Good quote from him. Thanks.

jps said...


I'm a bit slow in catching up, but just wanted to let you know that this is a great reminder. Too often we make god over in our image and cease to let Him be God.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Joe, Yes. We need to be in all of Scripture regularly to help us avoid this.