How Well Do You Know God?

Overheard by me the other day: “The God I believe in wouldn’t do that!”

The trouble is, the “that” to which this person referred was from a story in the Bible.  What are we to do with this?

For most of us there are things in the Bible that we aren’t very comfortable with.  There are acts that are attributed to God that we haven’t found a way to work into our own understanding of the One who created us.

Some of these seem incongruent not only with our understanding of God but also with other scripture passages. Some of us (way too many, from my experience), for instance, lop off most of the Old Testament at the bat of an eye because of the wrathfullness of God presented there.

For those of you who thus prefer the New Testament and are willing to write off the Old Testament, in whole or in part: you have been lied to about the Old Testament if you think it is just blood and wrath and condemnation.

Which brings us back to the orignal problem – what are we to do with parts of the Bible, or, for that matter, claims, doctrines, historic understandings of the church that don’t jive with your or my particular understanding.

Do we realize the audacity of claiming that we as an individual have better knowledge and understanding of God than the writers of our scripture and 2000 years of students of the same? None of us have the knowledge or expertise to claim to know God so well as to deny parts of scripture as “something God wouldn’t do.”

For help in reading scripture for understanding, I recommend Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet.

For you big picture people, consider that God, to be God, is not entirely knowable by any one of us, or by all of us collectively. God does, however (at least the God of our scriptures) want to know and be known by us.  We were created for relationship with God.

Think about it, read about it.  Talk with and read things by people you disagree with as well as those with whomo you agree.  Perhaps they have something to share that can help you come to know God better.

4 thoughts on “How Well Do You Know God?

  1. One of the Buddhist statements that I have been turning over is “if you meet the Buddha on the rode, kill the Buddha”. I think this can just as easily be applied to God. It reminds me how quick I can be to think I know God which robs me of my curiousity and chance to learn. And, I would like to know how you address the questions about what was included in the Bible. Isn’t it still representative of the writer, the various edition, and possibly what was included and excluded. I know we can still learn and it just sometimes leaves me with doubt. I feel a bit exposed with a personal comment here. Hope the question makes sense.

  2. “Do we realize the audacity of claiming that we as an individual have better knowledge and understanding of God than the writers of our scripture….”

    Speaking from what is probably the minority perspective here… uh… no… I don’t.

    We are people. They were people. We’re imperfect. They were imperfect. Why SHOULD we let them tell us what God is like?

    “None of us have the knowledge or expertise to claim to know God so well as to deny parts of scripture as ‘something God wouldn’t do.'”

    Couldn’t disagree with you more, Steve. You really think God endorses … well… take your pick:

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/short+.html

    (That’s just the short list.)

    I’ll be tiptoeing away now, lest I be ruthlessly smitten by any God people….

  3. not that I won’t read that, Audie, but my thought was primarily for Christians – people who claim to hold the Bible as the inspired word of God. If we make this claim, we are to some extent bound to acknowledge our own limitations with respect to understanding the totality of God.

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