Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Norman Mailer’s God

November 17, 2007

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.

Faith in a Blanket

July 15, 2007

My grandmother was one of a large family- about a dozen as I recall, although I only ever knew four of them. One of her brothers, was dying, and she urged him to put his faith in Jesus. However, like many, despite being brought up in church he could not quite grasp the idea of faith. He told her he would love to become a Christian but just could not quite grasp the concept of faith.

As he lay dying in his bedroom upstairs he had one great desire and that was that he could just once more go downstairs and sit by the fire. His brother offered to take him down but he found the prospect too frightening as he was in such pain. His brother said that he and my grandfather would carry him downstairs in a blanket. He eventually agreed. But he sought reassurance throughout the short journey from bedroom to sitting room, ‘Are you sure you won’t drop me?’ Gently they carried him down. And once he was downstairs he said to my grandfather, ‘Tell Nancy(my grandmother), I now know what faith is.’ He died not long after that.

As helpless he put his trust in others to carry him and not let he fall God opened his eyes to see the very essence of faith. That in our helplessness we trust completely in Jesus to do all for us that he has promised in his word. That able to do nothing for ourselves he is able to save us completely. As JC Ryle once noted the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin from which we need to be saved.

10 Theological Reflections on Genesis 1:1

May 19, 2007

There can be few more controversial chapters in the Bible than Genesis 1. As we look at it we must remember that it is above all a theological explanation the origins of the world. So I want to offer 10 theological reflections on the chapter.

  1. God is eternal- existing outside time
  2. In the beginning there is nothing except God- there is other rival or competing force. Therefore everything else that is has been created.
  3. God created all things- He is eternal, matter is not.
  4. God exists in Trinity- it offers a pre-trintitarian vision of God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  5. God is separate from the world that He has created.
  6. God created by simple fiat- His word is powerful
  7. Creation is orderly- it is not random and chaotic
  8. There is nothing that exists outside of God that He has not created
  9. God is all that is real since He alone exists outside creation
  10. There is only one true God- the God revealed in Genesis 1

He doth Protest too much

May 14, 2007

I confess I have not read too much Dawkins. There is little real engagement with ideas. Despite the scientific facade his approach to the idea of God has really too much of the ‘yah boo’ about it. In an article in the the Times newspaper he seeks to defend himself against certain key criticisms. In the course of the article he makes the rather strange comment “If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place, and I would have written a different book.” What an unusual comment for a man arguing that God is a delusion. Suddenly his argument has swung from being about God to being about religious fundamentalism. It becomes ever clearer, as the article reveals in several places, that Dawkins real problem is not a theological one but a cultural one. Where his rant- for that is mostly what it is- is against the ranters.
Dawkins does not like to deal with detailed theological ideas- much harder work than ranting I suppose. if he did he would realise that at the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that since God is the centre of the universe- not man- and that since man finds his happiness in God, those who believe in God are right to be passionate. Furthermore that that passion arises not from a state of the jury always being out but from real convictions about the living God
Read Dawkins article at

Esther and the Unseen God

May 4, 2007

I have really enjoyed reading Dale Ralph Davis’s book ‘The Word became Fresh.’ It is a book about reading and preaching from OT narrative and in a very warm-hearted way Dr Davis gives us a number of worked examples. It has encouraged me to read familiar passages in a new light and to savour some of the detail.
I particularly enjoyed reading the story of Esther again. It is a Bible book which famously does not mention God. He remains unseen throughout the book. Yet His imprint is everywhere in the book most notably in the many ‘coincidences’ that occur in the book. These include that farcical moment where Haman falls upon the reclining Esther to beg for mercy and the already enraged King assumes he is making a pass at her! Every detail in the story is governed by the unseen God.
It is therefore that great word of encouragement to us that when we cannot see God, which is sometimes our complaint especially in times of difficulty, He is everywhere present governing each and every detail that will bring our salvation and the glory of His name.