In the last few months of 2019 I encountered a number of surprising and disturbing statements about God. What is your response to these words?
- “I am the greatest artist God has ever created.” – Kanye West
- “When I walk into the White House God walks into the White House.” – Paula White
- “…only two nations in the world have ever been in covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are the Jewish people and the Afrikaans people, that is fact.” – Angus Buchan
Statements like these make claims about God. The words of Kanye, Paula, and Angus all say that God is limited by human constructs of time, space, and value, and that God treats certain people as more important than others. These are outdated, flawed, and dangerous ways to think and speak of God.
But even our daily conversations can reveal disturbing beliefs about God. To claim that “I am blessed!” is to say that God has shown me special favour. What does this say about God’s relationship with those who are not equally “blessed”? To claim that God protected a survivor of a car accident is to raise questions about why God doesn’t save everyone on the roads.
KNOWLEDGE ALWAYS EVOLVES
We generally accept that all areas of knowledge expand through ongoing exploration, experimentation, and debate. Yet when it comes to our knowledge of God we cling to ancient ideas that were developed in very different situations by people facing very different problems. The Bible was written before much of what we now take for granted was known, and before many of our current technologies and struggles even existed. This does not mean the Bible is outdated. It simply means that we need to constantly update how we read the Bible.
As John Shelby Spong wrote:
The Christian story did not drop from heaven fully written. It grew and developed year by year over a period of forty-two to seventy years. That is not what most Christians have been taught to think, but it is factual. Christianity has always been an evolving story. It was never, even in the New Testament, a finished story.
GOD REALLY DOES EVOLVE
For faith to be authentic, valuable, and life-giving it needs to evolve. That’s why Scripture often speaks of the goal of faith as maturity. As our children grow, we expect their understanding of the world to grow with them. For an adult to cling to childish views is to be an underdeveloped person (See 1 Corinthians 13:11).
At EvoFaith we believe that God really does evolve. What we believe about God shapes our experience of God, and so our God (or our understanding and experience of God) evolves as we evolve. Over the next few weeks we will explore some new ways to think of, speak about, and encounter God. The goal will be to grow into a mature, authentic, evolving, and evolutionary faith—an EvoFaith.
You may find it helpful to reflect a little more deeply on your ideas about God and how you can expand your God-experience. These questions may get you started:
- What are your current ideas about God?
- If you explore those ideas more carefully, what do they actually say about God?
- Are you happy with saying and believing those things about God?
- Are you willing to explore ways of growing your understanding and experience of God?
- What can you learn about God from other people?
- From other religions?
- From your pets and other animals?
- From trees, plants, flowers, and insects?
- From poetry, movies, and novels?
- From art and music?
Please share your stories of expanding your ideas and experiences of God in the comments. Over to you!
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