The Uninteresting God

Why do so many of us want to sleep in on Sunday morning? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

N.T. Wright talked once about greeting undergrads at his college and how many of them would say they wouldn’t be seeing him much since they don’t believe in God. He’d ask which one they don’t believe in. They’d describe someone who lives in the sky and watches all that we do and sends good people to Heaven and bad people to Hell. Wright would tell them he doesn’t believe in that god either. He goes on to say he doesn’t think he’d bother getting out of bed to worship a god like that either.

Maybe those of us who sometimes drag ourselves out of bed think that we are in fact worshiping that god.

“But Nick! Doesn’t the Bible speak of our Father in Heaven and doesn’t it say that God is in Heaven and we are on Earth so let our words be few?”

“Yes. Yes it does.”

“Then that means God is in Heaven.”

This assumes that Heaven is some place in the sky and that when Jesus was doing the ascension, it was a kind of Star Trek idea where he was teleporting back to the home base or something of that sort. Do we really think Jesus could be flying through space like Superman and eventually reach a spot where there you will find where God lives? Once you reach that spot, just keep going down the street of gold until you reach the throne in the center and you’ll see God just sitting right there on the throne.

It sounds ludicrous, but it is what so many of us probably implicitly believe.

Then are the sayings about God being in Heaven nonsense? Not at all! They most certainly have meaning, but not the meaning of 21st century Americans.

Let us suppose as C.S. Lewis once said that instead of ascending, Jesus disappeared by burrowing underground. The disciples would have the picture of themselves being the authority in fact. Man has dominion over the Earth. God lives in the Earth. Man therefore has dominion over God. Jesus instead goes into the sky. Something you notice about the sky is that it’s transcendent. It’s limitless. No matter where you go, you see it, and you can never see the end of it. Today in the space age, we know even more that it’s greater than we’ve ever imagined.

That is the picture of God. God is limitless. God is transcendent. God overpowers us where ever we go. He cannot be localized to one place.

That does not mean that there are places where He does not make His presence more apparent. For the Jews, that would have been in the Temple. For the Christians, it is also in the Temple, but it is not the Temple of wood and stone, but rather the Temple of flesh and blood. First, it was the earthly body of Christ. Now, it is also the church body of Christ as we are God’s Temple and Christ is the cornerstone of that Temple.

What this means is we need to jettison from our minds the belief that God is just somewhere out there and He is living away at a distance and every now and then he’ll step in and do something great and then He’s back to doing whatever it is that He’s been doing, which usually consists of making sure people get good parking spaces who pray.

If God is not localized out there, then where is He? Where is He? Look around you. THAT IS WHERE HE IS! That’s right. God is omnipresent. Heaven and Earth cannot contain Him and in fact, every single ounce of space around you has within it the full presence of God. God is not an absentee landlord at all as in Deism. God is in fact always there and we are told that He not only created all things but He sustains all things.

This is one problem I can have traditionally with the Kalam argument that most people know about. It explains that God starts things off, but why think He is still there? Many people seem to think God’s only work with the material world is creation and once He creates, well the universe can get along just fine without Him.

This is absolute nonsense and don’t believe it for a second. This universe, you, and I, and everything else that is, even the angels themselves, depend on God’s sustaining of their existence for Him to be. He could be apart from everything else that exists. Everything else that exists could not be apart from Him.

A sign of our problem is that so often we can think of how God makes too many demands supposedly on our lives. Yes. God makes demands. Guess what. If you go to work, your boss makes demands of you. If you are a student, your teacher makes demands. If you are a child, your parents make demands. People who are in authority do have the power to set requirements for us. God is not obligated to give us anything. We are rightly obligated to give Him everything.

It’s like treating God as an affront to our own existence. We saw off the branch of the tree we are sitting on. We have to have Him for our existence. He could do away with all of us and exist just fine. Some who believe in a tithe could complain that God wants 10% of their money. In fact, God has all right to ask for 100% of your money and doesn’t. We can think it a burden to give God about three hours on a Sunday, which is three out of 168 hours in a week. Strange we don’t see our time wasted that much if we go see a three hour movie or play a video game for three hours or anything else that takes time like that.

Why has this happened? We have accepted a pop theology view of God as if He really was confined to one place and was at a distance and is not a constant reality here on Earth. We know the saying “Out of sight, Out of Mind.” God is indeed that for us. We can’t see His form to be sure, but we see things existing and say “I don’t see Him active around here.” Yes. Of course you don’t, and I suppose you think those trees in front of you can provide their own existence. I wonder where from.

If evangelicalism is going to have an effect in America, it will need to be rooted in a God that is really worthy of worship instead of the weak God too many of drag out of bed to go worship on Sunday. Yes, this could be a failure in our churches, but could that failure in the church be because we have a failed theology to start?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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8 Responses to “The Uninteresting God”

  1. Jamie Dawkins Says:

    Reblogged this on James Carter Dawkins.

  2. numerousloop Says:

    “The Uninteresting God?”

    “Christian life is mostly froth and bubble, and these weekly waves swirl you around but slowly.”

    The Book of Matthew hits you in the face with multiverse thinking.

    For we are humanly walking in the world, and when dead most slip down into the Earth grave below where the dead walk-on.

    But Matthew emphasizes, the other multiverse ‘above’ and its also within us, this is the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Hence, become Born Again, and you are immediately given a perfect spiritual body within, so we become a new dual person, and certainly a person without a death sentence awaiting the metaphysical grave wearing our corrupt Adamic spiritual body.

    Hence, to enter church on a Sunday, we all need a change of mind-set, we need to try to think we have entered a portal into the Kingdom of Heaven,

    So some of us need to cease our ‘pathetic’ froth and bubble Christianity, and think as Kingdom of God Christians, for this is God’s own plan for our lives whilst walking in the world, a walk that should lead us to fellowship with other ‘subjects’ not citizens, on Sunday mornings.

    Anyway, God is most interesting!

    John D. Miller,
    London, UK

  3. Simplexion Says:

    every single ounce of space around you has within it the full presence of God.

    Are you saying we can scientifically test for your god? Why have we been able to observe quarks but not your god?

    Some who believe in a tithe could complain that God wants 10% of their money. In fact, God has all right to ask for 100% of your money and doesn’t.

    “Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money!”

    I enjoyed your whole argument, especially how you assign a gender to your god throughout the entire thing. Hilarity!

  4. apologianick Says:

    Brace yourself for a laugh everyone. SImpleton is going to try to say something intelligent, or at least that he thinks is!

    Simpleton: Are you saying we can scientifically test for your god? Why have we been able to observe quarks but not your god?

    Reply: God is immaterial and quarks aren’t. Also, we haven;t observed quarks AFAIK. They’re too small. We speak of several scientific realities we haven’t scientifically observed.

    Simpleton: “Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money!”

    Reply: Sounds like George Carlin. Please let him joke against that god all he wants. I don’t believe in that god anyway.

    SImpleton: I enjoyed your whole argument, especially how you assign a gender to your god throughout the entire thing. Hilarity!

    Reply: Yes. Rather than bothering to study ancient cultures and why God would present Himself as male, you prefer to laugh. Being ignorant is apparently bliss for you.

    • Simplexion Says:

      The wonderful ad hominems at work again!

      You might want to look up what “observing” means in scientific terms because you don’t seem to know.

      Yes, yes. You ignore the parts you don’t like. We all get that. The bliss of ignorance would be more apparent to you.

  5. apologianick Says:

    Simpleton. Look up Ad Hominem to see what it really is.

  6. Simplexion Says:

    Perfect timing for this article: http://bigthink.com/daylight-atheism/gods-gender-police
    ” Why is God male and not female? Does he have a Y chromosome? A penis and testicles? What could God possibly possess that would make him one gender rather than another?”

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