Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Is God Too Grand for Us?

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Is God too grand for us? In a word, yes.

God has become so big to me that with the psalmist, I worry, who are we that God is mindful of us?

Progressive Christians (hopefully) have not settled for “a pocket God,” a term introduced to me by Evelyn Underhill biographer Dana Greene, a god we can pull out of our vest pocket like a dependable watch, an anthropomorphized deity that reflects our narcissism as well as our peculiar ideologies. Earth, for us, is not the center of God’s universe. We have theologized the Copernican revolution.

That’s why I was struck by one sentence in The Temple of God’s Wounds that longtime readers of this blog will remember I read day-by-day, chapter-by-chapter each day of Holy Week. Each time I find something freshly insightful as well as things that do not speak to me, but in all my years of reading it, I have only underlined one sentence: 
To break God’s heart is beyond human imagining. 
Can the grand God progressive Christians imagine be so personal as to be heartbroken? What happened to the personal God of Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Mary and Jesus? What happened to the personal God of the psalmist who wants to “cling” to us, the God whose providence Jesus claims we should trust for our food and clothing like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field?

Do progressives only have left the impartial and somewhat impersonal God of judgment, the God of Micah who commands us “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God,” or the judgment day Christ who separates the sheep from the goats, those who helped “the least of these” from those who  failed to do so?

Can we also find a “warm and fuzzy” encounter with God, such as the beloved disciple cuddling with Jesus or the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and drying them with her hair?

Following the lead of contemplatives and mystics and Celtic spirituality, I have repeatedly encouraged “intimacy with God,” believing we can enjoy such intimacy in our prayers and meditation and praise through which we may discover, discern, and disclose God’s proximity in ourselves, our neighbor, our opposition, the stranger.

The God of the Bible is One big enough to create the cosmos as well as the creatures, going so far as to–in the words of the psalmist—shape our inward parts, be with us in every place and condition, and in Christian terms, be welcomed into our hearts and homes and humanity.

Much theology is metaphor, and much of religion is storytelling. Progressive spirituality encourages looking behind, beneath, within and beyond the metaphor, even as our Christian faith challenges us to find the personal in its story.

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Copyright © 2015 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.  


  1. Wow! Your words and words and gathered words really clicked to guide my contemplation about where to be in relation to God and especially in regard to our "opposition". I know by the love of my sister that God is also in our "opposition" and that helps me so much to consider how they are trying their best to love just like I am. It is mind-blowing but really is helpful to me. Thank you for your perseverance and for sharing your being. seensurely, chuck.

  2. Five times now, I have reread this and do a full heart stop every time I come to:

    "To break God’s heart is beyond human imagining."

    I can see why you've underlined it. And we should underline it in our hearts too, if we want to know God deeply and intimately in "ourselves, our neighbor, our opposition, the stranger." Thank you so much for this. Blessings to you.