(Editor’s Note: During the Lenten season, we have invited guest writers to post reflections here at Mere-O. Micah Hoover is an engineer by day, and a blogger by night. He posts Kierkegaardian-style meditations on the Christian life at his blog Mere Devotion. We are happy to have him here.)
Children were asked to describe God in a survey. One child described God this way:
I think He’s an old man with a long, gray beard. And He sits
on a throne like a king, and drinks all the Dr. Pepper He
Adults forget the difficulties of being a child. Children are given few options in their choices, and they are responsible for much less than adults.
Children describe God as a being who does whatever he wants and takes total responsibility for His choices. This is a radical notion to them, like something they cannot fully grasp.
Perhaps God seemed radical to all of us when we were younger. Instead of acknowledging the radicalness of God, many adults try to defend him in a way that belittles and undermines His power.
For example, I read a commentary once on the episode in the Bible where the Ark of the Covenant was about to fall. In the story, a man named Uzzah (who was not a Levite) stretched out his hand to steady the ark, and he fell dead.
The twenty first century reader struggles to understand these passages. Such readers say to themselves that there is some defect in the translation or even in the Scriptures -when they are the ones full of defective thoughts.
The commentary on the passage claimed that the man’s death was like dynamite or a nuclear bomb. It wasn’t that God chose for the man to die… it’s just like when TNT is ignited or uranium is slammed together.
Such commentary, of course, leaves open the possibility that God wanted to save the man, but he was too weak and powerless on his own to do anything about it. Or maybe he was just too shy. Or it was just the nature of the ark.
The politically correct God described by this age never chooses for anyone to die. He never chooses for people to lose their homes, or to get sick, or to read newspapers that are racially-tinged. He would stop all of this if he could, but he’s too weak (or he leaves it up to us, or he’s bashful, etc.).
And the politically correct God never drinks more Dr. Pepper than the government permits him to drink. He never drinks more than his accountability partners allow him to drink. He never drinks more than everyone else so he doesn’t look selfish.
And he never drinks more Dr. Pepper than his nature allows him to drink.
But is this the real God? Is this God who lets things happen without ever intervening the same God who delivered the children of Israel from Egypt?
Is this the God who told Moses to call him “I am”?
Perhaps the divine subjectivity is the most offensive claim of the Bible to us.
We take issue against anyone who is not able to provide external explanations. We want to hear people defend themselves saying, “I filled out all the paperwork”. We want to hear them say, “I did this because that’s what everyone else wanted me to do.” Or to hear them say, “I was just following the System, the pattern of this world.”
But then Job or Peter or somebody approaches God and says, “Who or what is responsible for this?” And the fullness and completeness of God answers back:
The radical answer that offends and scandalizes us is that God does whatever he wants to do. His divine subjectivity has laid the foundations of the earth. All the scientific rules and objective principles of physics hold together so long as Christ allows them to.
The preachers cannot polish him into doing anything. The theologians cannot confine him into the doctrines they invent. The Hollywood directors cannot invoke him with their talented actors and costly scripts.
God is not a formula, so that scientists and mathematicians could manipulate Him like an equation. God is not a history book so that we could revise him as the scholars revise history. God is not a politician that He should be bribed by the company of famous people or money.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
God is spirit, and he demands that those who come to him worship in spirit and in truth.
And He drinks all the Dr. Pepper He wants.