About this Blog

After banging my head in frustration over the obsession everyone around me had with procreation, I went online to find a community of people who were more like me. I have met some fascinating people along the way, but I have also found that many in the childfree community are quite hostile toward Christianity and a Christian world view. I understand that, unfortunately, many of my Christian sisters and brothers have given them a lot of ammunition (undoubtedly, I have been guilty of this at times too). Not wanting to be perceived as "trolling" for expressing my Christian perspective on other people's forums and blogs, I use my own blog to share my musings on childfree life while at the same time expressing my faith.

My intention is to show support to childfree people, both Christian and non-Christian, but from my own Christian perspective. Questions and constructive comments are welcome; negativity and intolerance are not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Nature of God

Although I believe in the Bible as God’s way of trying to reveal God and a spiritual realm to us, I am forced to acknowledge that anyone as magnificent as an omniscient, omnipresent, eternal God who is not constrained to this physical realm would necessarily have to “dumb down” the revelation of a higher reality when confining that revelation to human language in terms that limited, mortal beings could possibly understand.

Our minds are small. Physicists believe that we live in about 10 dimensions, maybe more (don’t ask me to explain it, but the math works out with the theory and with the physical observations scientists have recorded only if you allow for at least 10 dimensions); and yet we humans really only perceive three dimensions (length, width, height), four if you count time. When I talk about 5-dimensional vector spaces with my students, I usually joke, “…but don’t ask me to draw that in the 5th dimension!” Imagine a God who experiences and understands all possible dimensions, a God who is not locked into linear time as we know it. How could this God describe reality to us in a way we would understand? How would you, as a three-dimensional being, describe a sphere to an entity living on a flat plane who had only ever encountered a circle – and only ever experienced that circle by circumnavigating it, unable to look down on it from above?

Our language is flawed. Some languages are more descriptive or have more nuance than others, allowing people to use words to describe difficult concepts with the utmost accuracy. Consider one of the well-known limitations of English when parts of the Bible were translated from Greek: agape, eros, and philia, three distinct types of love, had no other translation into English than the less-descriptive word “love.” Yet in any language, there is still a possibility of misinterpretation and misunderstanding, no matter how clear the speaker is able to be. I encounter this frequently with my students. They read my simple and carefully worded instructions on a task, and someone will ask me, “Do you mean for us to do X?” I will realize, “No, that thought never entered my mind, but I understand how you might construe the instructions that way!”

And so we attempt to understand God, the spiritual realm, salvation, heaven, etc., in terms that humans can comprehend, using words that pale in comparison to what we are describing. Thus the Bible is full of analogy and metaphor, God as father (or mother, Isaiah 66:13), the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Mark 4:31), “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5), and so on. I think a problem arises when we humans begin taking these things too concretely, making God out to be a physical being with exclusively masculine (or feminine) traits, believing in pop culture interpretations such as a devil with horns and a pitchfork, or oversimplifying the concepts of heaven and hell. The ever-perceptive Michael Card sang, “We’ve made you in our image, so our faith is idolatry.”

Christ often spoke in parables to help seekers understand spiritual truths (and apparently to hide the truth from those whose hearts were hardened to hearing the truth, Matthew 13). For those willing to look deeper and make the connections, parables can be a valuable tool. In my own broken way, I have begun creating parables for myself lately to help me understand what God might be like and why God might operate in certain ways -- is God like a teacher, is God like a farmer, is God like a person repairing a house? In future posts, I would like to share some of these (this post is getting long enough already). In no way can I claim that my “parables” illuminate The Truth, but I can say that my ponderings expand my mind, opening me to greater possibilities of who God could be. They help me attempt to make sense of things I will never truly understand in this life.

For now, I’ll leave us with the humbling thought that it is arrogant for any of us to think we have all of the answers, given the limitations of mortal thoughts and words. Perhaps if we exercised a little more humility, we could be more effective for Christ?

1 comment:

  1. Will be so great once we are in heaven with God, then we will see and understand everything in a "whole picture". :-)