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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Creating God in Our Image

When you think about God, what comes to mind? Is what you imagine God to be like anything akin to your own personality, or the personality of one or both of your parents? These may seem like radical questions, as if anyone would actually impose their own personality, or the personality of their parents on whom God is. However, maybe we too often we have a view of God that is much too familiar with who we are.

If anything, I have at least seen this on a practical level. What I mean by “practical level” is it seems the average person in the average church (at least here in the U.S.) imposes their own self or the way in which they were raised (i.e. their parents personality) on their view of who God is. In other words, if a person had very overbearing and angry parents (or parent), then often times their view of God is that He is angry with them. I know an individual who, as that person was growing up, had a parent who simply could not express love toward this person, and now this person often times thinks God feels the same way. Wow, how troubling, but this is certainly creating God in an image that is not actually who God is.

Too often I hear people in various church settings (i.e. church picnics, or other events with Christians present) where they are discussing certain events which occurred to them (whether these events are good or bad) they will say something like this; “Well, God probably had me go through this to teach me a lesson.” Or, they will say something like; “God probably caused this to happen because He knew I needed to go through this.” There is a practical application that is always put upon God regarding everyday events, bad or good, which seems to always mold God into a personality that matches the individual or their circumstances, so to speak.

I have tried for years to determine in these discussions if the individual actually thinks God is the resident police officer of their lives waiting for them to make some wrong move so He can correct them, or straighten them out, or teach them a lesson so they will avoid such behavior or events in the future. This is a practical theology that I think, in most cases, is detrimental in one sense of another about the individual’s view of who God actually is. Could it not be that because we simply live in a fallen sinful world, “fallen” things happen and God is not always out there just waiting to whack us in the heads causing us to make better decisions, or trying to get us to avoid certain circumstances?

To be perfectly honest, this type of practical theology regarding who God is and how He works seems to be more about the personalities of the people who make such applications toward the person of God. I have tried for years to put my thoughts about this on paper and figure out what causes people to do this. I sure would like some feedback on this issue if you have any.

4 Comments:

Blogger One of Freedom said...

There is some merit in thinking about God as coordinating or permitting certain circumstances. In that while we live in a sin corrupted world and bad things happen all the time for what seems like no good reasons, if we can't imagine that grace also meets us in this then our vision of God has become too dispersonal. There is a balance that is needed. If God is so personal that he orchestrates your every action, life becomes all about the individual and it is too easy to go from there to God being your lackey. Intersting thoughts, I have to go and orchestrate kids going in different directions so my wife can get out the door.

cheers.
Frank

5:08 PM, November 17, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Frank,

I was not too pleased with the outcome of this post. I do not think I got my point across well at all. I agree with you that God does in fact work in and through our circumstances; God is certainly sovereign. However, I guess what I was trying to say in this, but did not do so well, is that too often (at least in a practical sense) God becomes the ultimate mitigating factor in everything that happens to us.

While I grant that God works in and through certain circumstances, there are things which do occur simply because of the factors involed - like poor judgemetn or poor decisions, etc. Is God aware of these things? Surely He is. Does He cause these things to occur, no not always. So when someone speaks up and says grandma got cancer because God was trying to teach us something, as if God gave grandma cancer because we needed to learn a lesson, I think this is wrong headed.

This is what I was at least trying to get at in this post. Oh well. Thanks for the feedback.

7:31 PM, November 17, 2006  
Blogger Steve Scott said...

I think in addition to attributing characteristics to God that other authorities in our lives posess (parents, bosses, leaders, etc), we, at least I know I've done this, tend also to see God in terms of particular bible stories we read. Ananias and Sapphira were killed on the spot for holding back some of their property. We can then think of God universally in these terms just because we read it in one bible story. We need the whole counsel of God to form our practical view of God. Does this make sense?

12:40 AM, November 18, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Steve,

Yes, very true. Certain events in the bible, such as the Ananias and Sapphira story is questioned by several people I have come into contact with who think this very thing my happen to them because they beleive God may be angry at them for not giving like they should, etc.

Good point.

8:04 AM, November 18, 2006  

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