Or Else

I heard a sermon yesterday that I found to be meandering, and a little off-putting. It was very macho, and made for a very macho God. God is powerful, ergo we must respect Him (sic) or else!

This is not my theology. I have decided to start writing more about my theology, and in doing so I will reference the Rev. Charles Voysey's book "Theism, Or The Religion of Common Sense" (with apologies for archaic language, masculine presumptions about God, etc.).

Voysey writes,

"Power and skill, however vast, do not necessarily inspire the human soul with feelings of reverence and adoration."

A God whose only attractiveness lies in its might--its power--is a God who encourages us to hide from it, to lie to it, to find loopholes, to avoid. We don't turn to it for comfort--we turn away in fear. Eventually we learn that it can be repurposed as a weapon. Believe or burn! Believe or be run through with a sword. Believe and all our social problems go away--for God is a needy teenager, who with appropriate appeasement will grace us with much favor.

People either become like this needy and macho God, or they become so turned off that the word God is forever imputed with those characteristics.

"If all we know of God was that He was possessed of unlimited power and matchless ingenuity, we should not of necessity love and worship him, for He might be malignant towards us, or altogether indifferent to our moral welfare...So my readers would do well if they pressed me for the proof, which I have promised, that God is one whom we may trust and love.

Bibles and churches give no proof except in a very roundabout way. At best, they come to us at second-hand. They are not God's thoughts, but only records of men's thoughts about God—sometimes good and lofty, at other times bad and degrading. Accepted as final authorities, they represent God now as holy and loving, now as unholy and vindictive; now as man's friend, now as man's foe."

For me all scriptures must be subjected to reasonable thought. A person who is kind today and vicious tomorrow is not an emotionally stable person. They are not worthy of adoration.

"The principle laid down by Theism—by common sense in thinking about God—is that the mind, or disposition, or moral character of God can only be inferred from His works and products, and inasmuch as man, in his highest aspect as a moral and spiritual being, is the noblest work of God of which we know anything by actual experience, our search for the moral attributes of God must be prosecuted chiefly in examining the higher part of man's nature." (Emphasis mine)

Or to really drive it home,

"And we must bear in mind at every step of our enquiry this Theistic axiom: God must be at least as good Himself as the best of His creatures."

In other words, God is at least as good as the best person you know. Anything less than that is not God.

More to come...