Putting God in His Place
One of the most prevalent concerns in Western Christian Culture is the proclivity to try and explain God to God. Now, this may sound odd on the surface, but it is demonstrably true if one is observant. Not only does the average pew sitter have their own idea of who God is but many so-called pastors will preach a version of God that they think is most accurate.
Often what happens is that people feel compelled to “defend” Him. But what is really taking place is a re-definition who the Deity is and what He was really saying. Today, Christians cannot stand the idea of a Sovereign LORD that is truly sovereign and so we must remind Him in varied ways that we are the final authority in our lives and in world affairs. Ostensibly, we are putting Him in His place.
Does God Have Faith and Does He Trust in Us?
One of the frequently heard sayings in modern evangelicalism is, “I am so glad God never lost faith in me.” If you have never heard this from anyone you’ve interacted with, your sphere of interaction is entirely too small. Frankly, you may not be advancing the Gospel into the world around you very often.
I’ve had countless conversations with hundreds of people over the years. I dare say that this statement is one of the most oft reiterated pieces of tripe I have encountered. I know it is harsh of me to say it like that, but it is precisely that, tripe. (My apologies to my friends who enjoy tripe.)
The other variant of this statement is in the title of this essay. “I am so glad God didn’t give up on me.” Both statements are theologically repugnant. Moreover, genuine Christians, when confronted with such trite remarks should find a way to lovingly and carefully correct the speaker.
God is not a possessor of faith. Nor is He in anyway possessed of hope in the success of the individual. While I recognize the desire to paint oneself as gravely disappointing the Deity repeatedly. There was never a time when He was expectantly holding out for your successful conversion or your moral performance.
So, for an individual to express their thankfulness that God didn’t give up on them or never lost His faith in them, is to lift themselves up to the level of Deity. How can I say that? Because it puts that person in the position of being the object of faith.
To Have Faith in Something is Indicative of Its Ability to Succeed
When we fallen beings speak of placing our faith in something, we are speaking in terms of security. We have faith, if you will, in a bridge holding up as we cross it. We have faith when we go to market and hand the cashier a piece of currency, that the currency is valued rightly to pay the debt. Patients have faith, so-to-speak, in surgeons performing an operation to remove a tumor from their lung.
Modern faith indicates that we are reasonably confident in the ability of the object to accomplish what it is designed to do.
However, when we consider faith from the perspective of Christian thought and philosophy, we are thinking, not in the terms of what we perceive, but instead of what the object of our faith is. Hence, our faith is sure and confident because the author and source of our faith is also the object of our faith.
So, if we juxtapose the two perspectives, WCC and Orthodox Christian thought, we see a dichotomy. WCC insists that God was rallying behind us knowing that we were able to accomplish something He set us to do. Therefore, He never lost faith in us and never gave up as our cheerleader. Orthodox Christian thought tells us, rightly so, that God never trusted us or hoped in us to begin with. We were never objects of faith to Him. Furthermore, we were certainly never the author or source of faith.
Conversely, believers have their faith in God, and it is solid. But it isn’t solid because of the amount of faith we have. Moreover, our faith doesn’t affect the validity of the object of our faith. A weak and trembling Christian does not in any way lessen the insurmountable value of the utterly Transcendent Being.
God as Transcendent Source and Object of Faith
In the title of this essay I called the statement I am objecting to, A-Christian and dangerous. I stand by that assertion boldly. When we allow modern Christian thought to influence our approach to God and how we think of Him, we lower Him His rightful throne. One of the most difficult aspects of the godhead for the human mind to grasp is His holiness. An apt description of this attribute is to be completely and utterly set apart. Or, Transcendent.
He is above all things and apart from all things. Nothing is near Him or in any way like Him. It is this transcendent truth that gives lie to Him being the source, the author and the object of faith in His people. Nothing in us can compare to that and it cannot in any way supplant that. Thus, when a mere person delves into the trite statements, I have objected to, they are violating the transcendent nature and being of God. They are lifting themselves up as deity and expecting worship from the One Above all things. This is blasphemy and should be marked, rejected, rebuked and done away with.
Soli Deo Gloria!