Tony Jones has offered a challenge to liberal Christian bloggers. He has rightly sensed that progressive Christians have trouble talking about God. They can talk till one’s ear falls off when it comes to politics, but God? Not so much. Here’s what he said:
I’ve been writing recently about the problems with liberalChristianity, and I had a thought this morning. It was prompted by a recent phone conversation I had with the managing editor of a major publishing house, combined with my faithful listening to the Theology Nerd Throwdown podcast, and the silliness of all the hand-wringing about Chik-fil-A.
These have prompted me to think that progressives have a God-talk problem. That is, progressives write lots of books and blog posts about social issues, the church, culture, and society. But we don’t write that much about God. That is, we don’t say substantive things about who God is, what God does, etc.
You might say the same thing about conservative Protestants (i.e., “evangelicals”). But the thing is, their people pretty much know what they think of God. It’s well-known and on the record.
Progressive/liberal/mainline theology, on the other hand, has a PR problem. We might think that people know what we think about God, but they don’t.
I think he’s right. But instead of talking about the PR problem of liberal Christianity, I’ve decided to take up Tony’s challenge- if for no other reason but that it’s good to think about what we believe about God and be able to articulate that belief. I did talk a little bit about God from an autistic perspective the other day, but I want to expand on that. So here it goes.
I believe in God, the Creator. I don’t believe that the creation accounts in Genesis are actually science, let alone history. But I do believe that God created the earth and all that is in it. Starting with Genesis 1, we see a God that creates, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, animals and plants and insects. Because God created all that is in the world, it means that everything has been touched by God- intended for a purpose: to give glory to God.
I believe in God, the Father (and/or Mother). God isn’t someone that is distant from creation, but is deeply in relationship with it, especially humans, those that bear the image of God. God is in relationship with Adam and Eve, a relationship that becomes strained with the Fall. God keeps being in realationship with humanity even though God’s heart is broken over and over again. God chooses to be in relationship with Abraham and promises to make him a great nation- one that God will be in relation with in the hope of being in a healed relationship with the whole world.
I know that some people have issues with God as Parent. I can understand that. Then we can talk of God as a Lover of what have you. The point of this is that God is a relational God, one that longs to be with us even when we don’t want to be with God.
I believe in God as Spirit. In Genesis 2, God breathes into Adam giving him life. The Hebrew word for breath, ruach, also means spirit. One of my professors in seminary, Lee Snook, used to say that God’s Spirit is present everywhere. Where God is not, you are not, because it is the Spirit that gives life. This also means that God is present everywhere in all of creation: in the face of the poor, the thief, the good and the bad. God is present even where evil seems to reign, because this is God’s world and evil won’t have the last word even when it think it does.
I could say a lot more, but I think I will leave it at that. I’d love to hear what other people have to say about God.