I agree with Tony wholeheartedly.
…progressives have a God-talk problem. That is, progressives write lots of books and blog posts about social issues, the church, culture, and society. But we don’t write that much about God. That is, we don’t say substantive things about who God is, what God does, etc.
I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary and then attended Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. I can attest first hand that there is definitely a “God talk problem” in Liberal Christianity that is not shared in Evangelical circles. I find it maddening that some at the Graduate Theological Union refuse to say anything about God for fear of being pompous or sounding too sure of themselves. People, we can say stuf about God, because God has revealed God’s-self to us.
Because of the bad PR, Tony threw down the gauntlet for progressive Christian bloggers (which I teeter on being).
Write something substantive about God. Not about Jesus, not about the Bible, but about God.
I have been thinking a lot about this challenge and I am having difficulty with it mainly because of the way I “do” theology.
First, the obligatory hem and haw.
The way I do theology is very distinctly an unapologetically Lutheran. Because of this, not saying something about Jesus or the Bible, which Tony asks us to do, is foreign to me. In my Lutheran way of doing theology I strive to be a theologian of the cross rather than a theologian of Glory.
In the Heidelberg Disputation Luther writes about his way of doing theology and defines two kinds of theologians.
A theologian of Glory is…
… [a person] who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things that have actually happened.1
A theologian of the cross is …
… [a person] who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.2
As a theologian of the cross the lens through which I do view God is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
I am fully willing to admit that two verses guide me in this as the underpinnings of much of my theological doings.
- Hebrews 1:1-2, “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son…”
- Colossians 2:9,”For in him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”
Therefore, when I want to know what God is like I look to Jesus. The final and ultimate source about God is the incarnate Christ. I can be sure of God’s disposition toward the world because of Jesus. My theology begins with the Word revealed in flesh. This is why it is hard to say something about God without saying something about Jesus or the Bible. But alas I shall try.
1. God is not anything and everything we want God to be.
God is God and stands outside of our intellectual ascents and descriptions. The only stuff we know about God is what God reveals.
2. God pursues you, not the other way around.
All of our good works, good intentions, and right motivates do not help us get closer to God. God is the one who relentlessly pursues us in the midst of our brokenness, pain, doubt, unbelief, and sins. God comes to us and turns our inward focus outward.
3. God is not fair.
God gives grace to people who don’t deserve it, and saves people who have messed up and will mess up their entire lives. These people are loved by God as much as those who try to live righteous lives.
4. God always answers prayers.
A no or non-response is an answer.
5. God reveals God’s-self in two ways generally and specifically.
God’s general revelation in creation tells us broad things about God, but God is most fully revealed to us specifically in Jesus Christ.
1. Heidelberg Disputation #19
2.Heidelberg Disputation #20