Norman Mailer’s God

The Times newspaper recently published an interview with the lat Norman Mailer on his views about God. Mailer stated that having been an atheist for thirty years he then came to believe in God. He described the God he could visualise as ‘an imperfect, existential God doing the best He (or She) could manage against all the odds of an existence that not even He, our Creator, entirely controlled. Note the possessive: our Creator. God, as I could visualise such a being, was an Artist, not a lawgiver, a mighty source of creative energy, an embattled moralist, a celestial general engaged in a war, but never a divinity who was All-Good and All-Powerful.’

Mailer’s vision of God is a classic late 20th century vision of God not so much in its characteristics as it conception. For we live in a world in which everyone conceives of God in a way that please them. Mailer notes that he could read theology because he found it ‘dictatorial’. In other words, in typical fashion, he didn’t like someone telling him that this is the way it is. The late 20th century vision of God is a re-hash of man’s essential problem that he strives for autonomy and rejects God’s self-revelation. Although Mailer is shrewd enough to know where this leads. That it is the path that ends in totalitarianism.

The idea that man becomes his own authority in matters of knowing God is a self-referentially absurd idea. It leads us in the direction that Freud, Feuerbach et al criticised Christianity for leading us, the believe in a God who is nothing more than our own self-projection.  Yet its where sinful man’s flight from God leads.

But in rejecting the idea of knowing God through his self-revelation we end up missing the glorious truth that lies at the heart of the Christian faith that Gods self-revelation culminates in the revelation of His love through His self-giving through His Son Jesus. It is the great message of love, redemption and eternal hope. But we miss it once we decide to make God in our own image.

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