Dear friends,

Last week I talked about how Christianity makes a humble and reasonable claim. The Christian faith does not claim that Christians have developed the best symbols and rituals to know the infinite and eternal God. The Christian faith does not claim that we have developed a way to get “outside” of this created order to God. No. The Christian faith says that God has come from “outside” to “inside” the created order to speak truly to human beings. So, a Christian is not a skilled mystic or philosopher; we are one beggar telling another beggar where to go to hear God speak. The Bible is God’s word written. To hear the Bible is to hear God speak.

But some may say that Christians have this all wrong. God is not “outside”. He is “inside”, in everything, or He is “inside” because He is everything. Therefore, we just need a guide to get in touch with the “God” who is already here, all around us, in us.

This sounds very attractive and it is an ancient and widespread belief. It also seems more democratic somehow. But there are several big problems.

The first thing to think about is that this conception of God as “the all” or “the all-in-all” is impersonal. God is not personal, because “everything “ is “every thing”, not a person. Why is this a problem? What do we think of people who treat us in an impersonal way? We don’t like it. It seems wrong. But, if it’s wrong to treat a person in an impersonal way, why do we believe the best or highest is impersonal? If you are in a personal relationship with someone – say, a friend or a child or a spouse – is it a good sign if your relationship becomes more and more impersonal? Don’t we treat this as a bad thing? Isn’t our goal to have a more personal relationship with a person we care about? If so, how can we think that the “highest”, the “best”, the “God” is impersonal?

If we see someone becoming more and more impersonal, don’t we think this is a bad thing? But if this is so, why do we think “becoming one” with the impersonal “God” is a good thing? It would mean our destiny or end is to be impersonal. In fact, in all religions which teach that “the All” or “the All-in-All” is god, the fact that we are persons is the problem we have to “solve” by becoming one with “the All”.

The Bible teaches that God is God. He is different from all things – He is transcendent. He is also the sustainer of all things – He is close, He is imminent. He is personal. He speaks. He knows. He loves. He creates. As the personal God He made us as persons in His created order. Christians believe that the Bible is God’s word written – that when we read or hear the Bible we are hearing God speak. Because we believe it, does not make it true – but it sounds truer and wiser than saying that God is impersonal.

George +