Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weary of the small god

Looks like I struck a nerve with my last Facebook posting:
I don't want to understand God. To understand and be certain of what I experience as mystery would reduce the transcendent Holy to some rational being small enough to live inside my head. Anything that small has no power to save me. I need a God much bigger than that.
Perhaps I'm just getting a bit weary of the image of the immanent God and how that has played itself out in our culture. I often find that the mystical Trinity is often reduced to something way too small and individualistic.

We live in a culture which values the primacy of individualism and independence - both of which I'm persuaded have taken on an idolatrous status. We value independence in America to the point where we denigrate God's intention of interdependence and balance. My independence and its associated "rights" are worshiped at the altar of American culture while forgetting that rights have associated responsibilities to the greater good of the community (yes, that pesky interdependence thing!).

We say we value individualism and so create a culture of spiritual and emotional isolation which breeds unhealthy codependency rather than healthy mutuality. Intimacy at any level, whether with a friend or lover, becomes less and less possible because of our "me centered" world.

While God is both immanent (personal) and transcendent (wholly/holy other and beyond), I feel as if I have grown up in a world which has erred on the side of portraying the immanent personal God at the expense of the transcendent Holy Other. The immanent personal God can be reduced to a god who needs to be understood and follow the "rules" as set forth in human written documents we call Scripture.

Don't get me wrong, Scripture is indeed God-breathed and inspired, yet at the end of the day, these writings are not magically dictated by the Almighty to human automatons who just wrote down everything in pure form. These are human writings describing how God's actions were seen (and interpreted) within the community. But I digress ...

In this culture where "me" and "we" are the center of an immanent God relationship, it is so easy to distort this into an ecclesiology where me/we/us become the locus and focus of God rather than God's work in Christ being the transforming work of the Holy Other which draws us back into God's heart. We begin to see God's actions as beginning and ending in us ... rather than beginning and ending in the mystery of God. And when we do that, there is no call for transformation or change in us. God exists for us at the expense of our existing for God.

So I guess I'm a little weary of the God who just seems way too small. The "boyfriend Jesus" imagery feels too simple and too reductionist. This has no power at all to save me. I need a God much bigger than this. I need the mystery, awe and transcendence of the Triune God who breathed me into existence, sustains me from without (and within), and fills all things (not just me) with the divine. Come Spirit of the Living God!

No comments: