Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finding Space for God

Today's theme in our morning meeting was Paul at the Areopagus from Acts 17. Christians, following Judaism, affirm that God cannot be captured in graven images or manmade idols. At the same time, Paul tells the Athenians that their unknown God does in fact have a recognisable identity.

This example captures a tension which exists in the Scriptures between a multitude of human images ascribed to God (king, lord, shepherd, father, potter, warrior, etc) and the declaration that God is mystery beyond description, as difficult to catch hold of as the wind. Both extremes have dangerous implications. When God is anthropomorphised (described as a human being), we have created supernatural theism - belief in a God who dwells beyond human reach, but who periodically decides to intervene according to his unfathomable will. On the other hand, a God who is beyond all understanding is not much use to anyone - how does one follow such a God?

Christians believe that God has been (and continues to be) revealed in history and therefore is knowable. Specifically, we believe that God has been revealed through Jesus of Nazareth and that in his life, we can not only know God but how we might be able to follow God.

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