Saturday 25 January 2020

Put yourself in God's place...

And if that very sentence sound blasphemously prideful and wicked; then such a response (from a Christian) illustrates exactly the point I wish to make.

Christians believe that God the creator is our loving Father. And surely a loving Father would not not mind at all if his children tried to imagine (or, better, intuit) what it is like to be a Father.

Indeed, children are - or used to be - encouraged to play families, to imagine being Mummy and Daddy, and to act out scenarios. And loving parents regard such games with benign pleasure.

Yet it is a solid (albeit sad) fact that for many Christians, for many centuries, God has been imagined as an 'Oriental Despot' of the kind that it is death to look-at or speak-to - a ruler who is remote, surrounded by intermediaries - a screen of guards, servants and administrators; a terrifying monarch whose glance is potential death and whose word is command.

The kind of God who is a King so high, so remote, so utterly unlike our lowly selves; that the only way to approach is on our knees or prostrated; or not approach at all, but deal with only indirectly - through intermediaries.

Altogether, such a Christian supposed God to be the kind of person who wants nothing more than to unceasingly and forever to be praised, worshipped, thanked; a God who wants nothing more from us than to be obeyed, and for us to submit utterly to what we understand to be God's will.

I think it should not need argument to prove that such a God is very far from the God who Jesus discusses and addresses in the Fourth Gospel; who is spoken of by Jesus with filial affection and warmth; and who Jesus encourages his disciples to regard as a friend, and not as a master to servants. 

But the best way to appreciate God is to imagine how we ourselves would feel (imagining, of course, our best, our, ideal selves) in God's position - how God would regard his children; how - ideally - he would want to relate to his children.

And I think it will readily be seen that a God such as we know our Christian God to be would not want to be treated as an Oriental Despot or totalitarian dictator; but would hope for a personal relationship of warmth and affection with his children, as they mature, grow-up towards greater divinity.

Such a God would not hope for the rest of creation to act like guards, administrators, servants - would not want to be the Emperor, Dictator, or CEO of creation - but would seek for 'colleagues' in the work of creation - co-workers... family.

Such a God would not want for creation to be 'organised' - not any kind of celestial bureaucracy, into which Men were expected to 'slot' - not a formal hierarchy with specialised 'job-descriptions' interacting by formal rules applicable to these categories; but on the contrary (surely?) a group of distinctive individuals, each unique; each expressing their personal differences in fluid arrangements held-together by mutual love.

Again, we should see Heaven as a family (an ideal ideally-extended family, of many related families) - not an organisation.

And ultimately, putting ourselves in God's place - but in God's place before the creation of the world and our-selves; we may see the primary reason for Creation: that such a God, a God with the nature of a loving Father, would want more than anything to have children, and for these children to grow-up.

Such a loving creator God would create such that this was possible: that his children could - if they would, if they wanted - grow (in time, by experience, through learning) to become like himself, like God, on a level with God: family friends.

What could be better?

Note: the above ideas are substantially indebted to the work of William Arkle


Faculty X said...

Why change the Bible's depiction of God?

I find the Old Testament illuminating because it describes what Jehovah is like if He exists. It explains the world we see today, including what may be evil but may be the nature of the Almighty, who says He is a 'jealous God' and at times displays Wrath.

Let's take mass immigration as an example. The Middle Easterners and Africans who worship Old Testament style in that Other Religion are getting Western European's land, money, and women for free.

The Western European peoples who forsook Jehovah out of Pride are being replaced with no shots fired.

What is happening now is Old Testament 101, just like Biblical promises made by Jehovah to the Israelites in their Exodus, and what peoples in the past including children would have considered common knowledge. Those with God win.

As it was then so it is now. Since the same is happening now as it did then there is a problem with projecting excessive idealism onto God's nature.

Bruce Charlton said...

@FX - As you imply, if that kind of OT God is what you truly believe is true - that that is indeed the nature of the creator; then it follows that it would make sense to convert to Christianity's most formidable rival converting-religion (assuming one is not an observant Jew) - where the implications of such a God are followed much more closely and consistently. And to aim for (settle for) a sensuous Paradise; not resurrected immortal life in Heaven as a co-creator grown-up child of God.

But you have not done so.

So you seem to be arguing on the basis of what religion/ ideology is currently most successful - and you are judging success in terms of demographic replacement. Your argument is worldly, expedient, hedonic.

But what is being replaced in The West is the society that remains after mass and near-complete *abandonment* (apostasy-from) Christianity; The West is indeed systematically *anti*-Christian - directing its best efforts at annihilating Christianity both at home and abroad (esepcially the Middle East, but They are working on Africa and South Asia too).

But to blame the West's current state on Christianity is such nonsense as to be actively evil.

Bill Morgan said...


I'd suggest it's a mistake to overemphasize either God's transcendence or his mercifulness and beneficence. You've gone way too far with the latter, to the point that you'd seemingly have us reject everything other than the Gospel of John. That is, to say the least, absurd. You prioritize your own "intuition" above all else in Scriptural exegesis. In essence this leaves you remaking God in *your* preferred image, cutting out everything about him that you don't like. Surely you can understand why so few go along with your rather narcissistic distortion of Christianity?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bill. I am used to being in a minority of one, that was normal for my career. I present my findings for those who are interested, without expectation of agreement. But if you suppose that I am motivated by wishful thinking, you are wrong. I have often explained the metaphysical reasoning behind my philosophical ideas.

Ugh said...

This is absolutely fascinating to me. I am a musician/songwriter and am about to go into the recording studio to record a song I have some trepidation putting out there. This blog post is the first affirmative force I've felt since contemplating this song.

The song is sung from God's point of view, sung to his people. A people that have dissected and rejected him and he's calling them back. I've listened to a lot of 'praise and worship' contemporary music and in fact a lot music at Catholic mass in my youth and never remember hearing songs sung from God's point of view.

Is it sacrilege? I've played it for a few audiences with generous feedback, and no one was offended per se. But then they were not necessarily Christian audiences.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ugh - It was the work of William Arkle that made me realise how very important it was to consider things from God's point of view, by an act of intuitive identification and extrapolation; it is, indeed, for me - now - a decisive way of evaluating what purports to be Christian teaching and interpretations.

John Rockwell said...

The OT is divine revelation as much as the Gospel of John.

God whose face can strike men dead and whose holiness requires the blood of Christ to approach.

You can call it Oriental despotism. But to downplay his holiness is an error.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JT - "The OT is divine revelation as much as the Gospel of John...."

I have stated my assumptions and the reasons I have for regarding the Fourth Gospel as primary; what are your assumptions and reasons for making your assertion?

John Rockwell said...

@Bruce Charlton

Because without Jesus and what the sacrifical system symbolically represents.

That loving relationship with the Father is impossible.

Evil and the corruption within man and creation. Will force God to destroy us otherwise.

The angelic rebellion and the fall of man made such corruption inevitable

The life and work of Jesus is based on the foundations laid down in the OT.

Holiness is all important. Throughout the scriptures.

We must be justified by blood before we are seen as innocent.

He must look at us and our righteousness as if he were looking Christ

Bruce Charlton said...

@JR - But that is just a series of assertions - you might have invented them, or got them from a book, or been told them by somebody to whom you have given authority...

What are your grounds for them? I am asking what are your basic metaphysical assumptions about the nature of reality. What grounds do you have for making such statements?

Keep it simple - you said the Old Testament is as valid and important for Christians as the Fourth Gospel: and much hinges on this - I say the Fourth Gospel has greatest validity in the Bible: much hinges on this.

My grounds are set out in the Lazarus Writes book, readable from the sidebar. What are your grounds?

John Rockwell said...

@Bruce Charlton

I got them from reading the whole bible.

The grounds I base this on is that. The covering of the skins for Adam and Eve. The fall of man.

The Exodus and the blood on the Lamp-posts.

From Mount Sinai to the incident with Nadab and Abihu.

The prophets.

The sacrificial system. And so forth.

As well as the fact that Jesus even in the Gospel of John quotes the Old Testament.

And even said of the Scripture from which he quote the OT that it cannot be broken (John 10:35)

Indeed Jesus said he that didn't believe Moses wouldn't believe him.(John 5:46) assuming OT authority.

Therefore the scriptures are about Jesus. Even in the OT.

Therefore the concept of Holiness which ensures the final destruction of Evil that Jesus prophesied is inevitable.

Likewise the many fulfilled prophecies of Daniel:

as well as Ezekiel especially the destruction of Tyre of Nebuchanezzar and then by Alexander the Great helps to ensure my belief of its divine inspiration.

My grounds is divine revelation.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JR - You aren't understanding (or answering) my question; but I'll leave it at that.