What Do You Believe About God That May Not Be True?

Erik Cooper —  June 2, 2011 — 2 Comments

Last week, I had a fascinating dialog with the pastor of a mainline denominational church. After 50+ years, he was leaving. Raised a theological liberal, he was ending a half-century wrestling match with what he knew about God, and the disturbing trajectory of his denominational hierarchy.

They’re playing too loose with Scripture, and He felt their understanding of God was simply inaccurate. A bad picture. Their own “idol,” created in their image, to support their cultural preferences.

I couldn’t avoid the irony.

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to untangle some of my overly fundamentalist tendencies. A picture of God entwined in rules, experience, and flawless performance. My own “idol,” created in my image, to support my cultural preferences.

While my mainline friend was trying to re-wind the loosey-goosey, I was trying to unwind the too tightly-wound. Starkly different starting points with the same ending desire: to truly know the Creator.

We all have a picture of God. We can’t help it. And His true image can quickly become distorted by the imperfect expressions of this broken world.

The part of the country or globe where we were born.

The way our parents interacted with us.

The type of church environments we’ve experienced.

The instinctive nature of our individual personalities.

The pain we’ve encountered in life.

These human experiences, even the seemingly good ones, can involuntarily re-shape the True God into our own god. Which leads me to this question:

What do you believe about God that may not be true?

Asked with cynicism, this question can take you on a journey toward bitterness and anger. Asked in sincerity, I’ve found it leads towards freedom. Towards the true nature of a God who not only can be known, but longs to be. For who He really is.

2 responses to What Do You Believe About God That May Not Be True?

  1. Very insightful, Erik. Why is it that we tend to veer toward one ditch or the other? On the one side is the cheap grace (“thanks for the help; I’ll take it from here”) pitfall, and on the other it’s the striving to earn Daddy’s approval mis-step.

    I remember a friend asking this great diagnostic question more than a decade ago. “Are you living in response to God’s love, or are you trying to earn it?”

    There are at least two challenges here. One is the tendency to see everything thru our own lens of experiences and theology, and to miss the insights and perspectives of others. The other is to, when realizing the need for a course correction, over-correct and land in the opposite ditch. You seem to be managing both of these quite well.

    • I don’t know how well I’m managing them Chuck, but I do think awareness is half the battle. When we stop wrestling with things, that’s when the swerving begins. Like a driver falling asleep at the wheel.

      The old Erik would have feared these types of questions might cause me to stray from God. Now, I feel they’re imperative to ensure I don’t.

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