Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

As I was reading a book today, I was struck a possibility that I had never considered before: God might be gone.

I don't mean that God mysteriously disappeared or that somehow we misplaced our conception of God. Rather, I mean that God may have become fed up with certain parts of our world and simply withdrew from them. While we were busy preserving our institutions and self-absorbed ideations, God slipped out the back door.

This was not an act of exasperation, where God lost control of the world, threw a tantrum, and walked away from the mess. It was an act of power and an act of judgment. God declared that what we were doing was not okay, so instead of enabling our misdirected ways, God left. And I don't mean that God left the whole world to its own devices. Perhaps God has chosen to leave this misguided church or that corrupt institution, but God was probably intimately involved with some other group of people at the very same time.

And really, I don't mean to assert that God has actually left at all. I just mean that God could have left. And that God still can.

There is no reason for us to assume that God is involved just because a church calls itself Christian or an organization claims to be faith-based. And to a large extent, I think that most of us realize that. I don't know anyone who actually believes that God was involved with David Koresh or with Heaven's Gate. It is pretty apparent that God is not involved with everyone who makes that claim.

However, we tend to abandon that skepticism when it comes to anything familiar. We see churches along the streets of our cities and towns and we just assume that God is active there. Unless we have reason to suspect foul play (or unless we are particularly radical/hardline) we believe that God is there. In fact, it is almost unthinkable that God would abandon the flock--God is faithful, right?

Now, I'm not advocating skepticism toward religious institutions, nor am I trying to malign God's character. It just seems arrogant on our part to assume that God will bless any endeavor we do in God's name. Surely God has the freedom to choose where to be involved and whom to bless.

Since we are seeing problems on a large scale, both in our churches and in our culture, it seems important for us to face the possibility that God may be gone. Perhaps God has moved on past our current traditions and institutions. Perhaps we have wandered off the path. Perhaps we aren't as right as we think. Perhaps we need to examine ourselves critically and ask a hard question: "Has God left us?"


  1. I do believe that God may have left some churches, or at least many of the people within them as a just way of leaving them to their own ways, because they have become slack in preferring God and have devised for themselves their own scheme for how they believe things should be, more as a convenience to themselves. Thank God for the individuals within these institutions who offer a glimpse of God's kingdom here on Earth even though they are often marginalized because of their unconventionality.

    I also have to wonder if God is manifesting Himself in such a variety of ways and it is difficult for some to see Him because they are only exposed to Him through more 'conventional' means which do not necessarily reach all the masses, particularly those of a more postmodern bent. I have noticed how both moderns and postmoderns not only find it difficult to understand one another, but how easy it can be for each camp to criticize the other. I have to wonder if both 'camps' have much which is valid for the other to come to a fuller understanding of what God is like and what He is up to.

    As of late, conservative Christians, evangelicals in particular, have launched a mass of rhetoric against emergents, of whom they (evangelicals) don't really seem to understand very well. Emergents, often times, in validating their own points of view, seem to employ similar means in advocating their postions as moderns do. I, a modern-postmodern (if that is even possible) am one who takes postmodern thought seriously, and am in the precarious position of being able to relate to both sides of the divide from my own perspective. What if we, as Christians-no, as humans-were to care enough about truth to come to the realization that one particular institution or way of viewing things does not fully encapsulate truth? This is not a plea for becoming an absolute relativist (nice little play on words?), but a plea to respect the limitedness of our humaness and the wisdom to latch hold of truth wherever it may be found. In Christianity, as communicated in the Bible, truth is always related within the confines of relationship. If we, as Christians (humans), respected one another enough so as to attempt to empathize with each other, rather than spouting our own preferred understandings of what we believe the case to be, we might all end up being the better for it because, as truth-seekers (not truth-creators) we are aware of our limited humaness and realize we really do need one another to come to a fuller understanding of what God may actually be like.

  2. I think I'm trying to say something similar....

    Just because a particular person/church/institution claims to have the truth, that does not mean that God agrees. I think the idea of truth-seeking as a collective enterprise is one that deserves more attention. It seems awfully arrogant for me (or anyone else) to assume that I know the truth about God. We all experience God in different ways--and our collective knowledge and diverse understandings of God are more valuable than one single "absolute" perspective offered by an individual. I agree, it would be wonderful if we (Christians/people of faith/humans) were more cognizant of our limitations and realized that cooperation (rather than division) will bring us to a richer understanding of God.


Let me know what you think....