This post is kind of a headscratcher, so please bear with me.
For as long as there has been religion, we’ve had many ways of describing God: Father, Mother, Lover, It, Void, Nature, the Highest Good, the Ultimate Reality…the list goes on and on like the Manhattan Yellow Pages. We try to understand the Divine with our limited minds, and then take that understanding and turn it into a religion.
I recently read “God is Reality Personified” from the Thank God For Evolution website (link on right). This post discussed Rudolf Bultmann’s assertion from his essay, “The Crisis of Faith” he wrote in 1931. This essay asserts that God is the reality we experience every day with its good and bad. I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this post all day. However, for a more understandable take I look to Don Cupitt’s “The Religion of Ordinary Life” where he asserts that God is Life itself.
As a Christian, I was raised with the Biblical view of God-the male, “up in the heavens”, all-powerful deity that intervenes in our day to day lives either through blessings or punishments, etc. This was my worldview for most of my Christian life until I started to see that things always didn’t happen as the Bible said God would make them. Illnesses that afflicted loved ones suddenly, current crises in our global community, the growing body of evidence pointing to evolution and the lack of historical support for the Bible stories, and just thinking for myself has shifted my viewpoint of God.
These days, I view God as a mystery-more of a “question mark” than a “period.” You see, in my “fundagelical” days I wanted a God I could pin down. I used scripture that described what God could “do” for me and held God hostage with it (like trying to catch the wind with a butterfly net). I wanted all my answers in neat and tidy packages, so that my life would be safe and secure and my universe manageable. I wanted a “personal” God, just like I used to believe in a “personal Savior” (no scriptural basis for this). I wanted the “blessed assurance” we sang about with the ultimate prize being safe in Glory when I die.
But it ain’t necessarily so. God is indescribable. The Bible I used to hold over God’s “head” was written by ancients who were trying to do the same as I was-engaging the mystery. I found out that God cannot be shoved in a book-be it the Bible, Koran or Torah-and can be figured out with study and a pastor/priest/rabbi/imam nearby. And even after a good Sunday school class-cum-sermon, I still walk out scratching my head feeling as if there should be more.
That’s why I believe orthodox Christianity has had problems with mystics-labeling them as “occult” and un-Biblical. These brave souls over the ages tried to tell us we cannot label God; we cannot solve the Mystery. God cannot be described, pinned-down, written up, etc…
I believe that God can only be experienced. To me, God is not some “big guy in the sky” who’s “got the whole world in His hand”. To me, the Bible (much as I love it) cannot give me an accurate portrait of the Divine-even with its using the word “mystery” in regards to salvation-ain’t working. God is a mystery to be lived through life and all its good and bad. In fact what we believe God is, God isn’t. We just have to do like the psalmist wrote, “Be still and I know I am God”-not in a potentate-worshiping way, but to still our questions and religious biases and just know that God….
Live the mystery. Live with the uncertainty. Live without the need for security, safety, or neat and tidy boxes. Live free and keep asking the questions. Realize it’s in those mysterious places is where God is. Even if we don’t get our questions answered, we’ll have lived our lives the way they could be lived.
I’ll have more on this topic-trust me!