Saturday, January 21, 2017

Your God is Too Small

Years ago I read a wonderful book called, “Your God is Too Small” by J.B. Phillips. In that book he wrote about how most of us struggle with God or faith because we keep making God too small. We have a tendency to imagine God being like us or maybe like a human being with super powers. But even with the powers of the entire Justice League of America, that is still a human construct and hence, according to Phillips, too small.

I thought about that this week when I was meeting with some students and we were discussing new ideas in Christian theology and how there continue to be new ideas about God, and evolution, and how God may intersect physics, and about how God and Love may be a primary construct of evolutionary direction. Yeah, heady talk like that.

At one point I said, “But what about a personal God?” and I got the look, and someone said, “Well, I used to believe in a personal God but then I studied…” The message was basically that believing in a personal God was kind of juvenile or “early” in terms of spiritual formation. 

I have picked up that slight judgment in other places as well. That look or comment that suggests that those who (still) believe in a personal God have not matured in their spiritual development. There’s a kind of spiritual condescension, “Oh, I’m past the personal God
thing.” “My God is now a cosmic force or a New Physics God”…blah, blah.

 So me, doing my daily—very personal—prayer starts to feel small—or worse—I feel unsophisticated in my faith.

But then, after confessing to my very personal God that I feel small cause I’m not making Him/Her big enough, I start to think, “Whoa, isn’t making (perceiving) God as a distant, cosmic, force of the universe just another way to make God too small?” (Yes, irony: in making God so big and fancy we make him small again.)

Can’t God be galaxies-wide, loving, an impersonal cosmic force and a personal shepherd at the same time? Why can’t God (we are talking GOD after all) be BIG and small at once?

I thought that Hillary Clinton could be the president of the United States and Chelsea’s mother at the same time. So why can’t God be both (and more) simultaneously?

Think about this: If we really grasp the Trinity, and if we swear that we believe in this three-in-one business, then why not a God who is all: all forms, all types, all sizes, all styles, all dimensions simultaneously?

And by the way—isn’t disdaining a personal God rather mean spirited? That can’t possibly be very Christian.

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