When we insist that our version of God is the only true one are we putting God in a Box? That is are we limiting him to how we currently perceive him or maybe just want him to be? I think that is the case with many Christians today. Here are some examples of putting God in a restrictive box:
- The Bible contains everything we need to know about God — Jesus clearly told us that we are not, nor in my opinion will we ever be, ready to know everything about God; he will wait until the appropriate time to give us additional information as we need it. When we block out that new information we are blocking out God himself and limiting him to what we currently know about him.
- When Jesus said xxx he was definitely talking about yyy — This is the practice of taking something that Jesus has said and turning it around to mean something else. This seems to be too common in some of today’s religious institutions. When Jesus told us the story about doing for the “least of these” he concluded it by saying if you don’t do this then our father in heaven will not recognize you on judgment day. Those are direct words from Jesus that seem to have been totally changed into something else today, particularly by those who deem “works” to be a totally unnecessary aspect of Christianity.
- All we need to know about God is he saved us wretched beings from eternal damnation — Several Christian denominations today put all of Jesus’ messages to be centered around his coming to save mankind from themselves. They fixate on our sinfulness instead of our potential. In that regard they make God into our savior and for the most part ignore the he is also, and maybe more importantly, our Lord. They turn Jesus into a life insurance policy and ignore the other 90% of his messages to us.
- God is only going to save people who believe as we do. Everyone else is damned to eternal agony. — If this is not putting God in a box I don’t know what is. The people who fixate on “everyone is going to hell except us” have made God into their own personal savior. They totally discount the possibility that God just may, as he said through Jesus, desire that all men come to know him. They don’t give God the power to do what he says.
The above examples are just a few that are around today where people fashion a god to meet their personal needs and then limit him to that task. It is ludicrous for us to limit God to what we want him to be based our current understanding. When we do that we are saying that we know the heart of God and there is nothing else to be learned about him. When we say we know everything about God and what he wants us to know isn’t that to one degree or another putting ourselves in God’s place.
God is who he is and that is something that none of us can ever totally fathom. To try to keep God contained in your personal or even denominational vision of him is almost as detrimental as not believing in God at all. God cannot be contained in your versions of him nor can he be totally contained in a small compilation of words written by men about him.
2 thoughts on “Putting God in a Box….”
Your post caused me to pause and think a bit. I tend to agree with most of what you said, but would like to challenge the last one on your list. I am not challenging it because I want to see everyone go to hell or anything like that. Actually, I think its a very hard idea to deal with. Rather, I would suggest that folks often put God into the box of their own presuppositions. We want certain things to be true or we don’t believe God would act a certain way so we say things like: “God would never really have hell exist” or “Certainly Jesus isn’t the ONLY way.” (I don’t think you are taking this that far, but i am using hyperbole to make a point.) At that point we move away from what God tells us about himself in order to put Him into the box of who we think he ought to be. I agree that we ought to hold out hope that in God’s mercy he will save many. Thanks for the challenging words.
youthguyerik, thanks for the comments. Yes, I also think that the last example I gave goes both ways. There are some who don’t personally accept a hell so they invent God in that direction also. The idea of universal salvation is something that I have been contemplating lately. Philip Gulley, who is one of my favorite authors is firmly in that camp. I don’t totally align with him on that yet but I will not take that possibility away from God.
Thanks also for the pointer to your blog I will put in on my read list.