A Personal God

July 13, 2006

I’ve been reading some comments on whether God is a person by Stephen Lingwood at ReigniteUK. Stephen quotes another blogger PeaceBang as saying:

I don’t have a personal God in the way that all this LORD stuff would suggest,but I certainly do believe in some impersonal force of moral imperative, by whatever name. I have said many times and in many places that my own sense of what God might be wavers and changes and gets lost on many days.

but disagrees, saying that for him “As much as I know it’s not rational, and not fashionable, God does feel like something that I can communicate with like a Friend.”

I’m with him there; though I would deny that approaching God as personal Friend is irrational.

There have always been non-personal metaphorical depictions of God. God is a refining fire, the ground of our being, the ruach, the rock of ages. These depictions have historically been balanced with an understanding of God as Person – first in almost material form (God walking in the Garden of Eden or living on Mt Sinai) and then in increasingly spiritualised form; but a Person nonetheless. Trinitarians add complexity to the mix; but don’t deny that God can be approached as a single Person.

Fosdick once gave a metaphor of God as the Pacific Ocean. I’ve swum in the Pacific Ocean, always within 20 metres of the shore, playing in the surf. The Pacific Ocean isn’t Bondi Beach; and I don’t know its depths or power. But it has a nearside, and I can approach that nearside.

In the same way, I would affirm that God is surely more than a person. The view of God as a big beard floating over the three-tiered cosmos, moving the sun with his hand is a worldview that has passed.

But I would also say that to be greater than a person, God must be at least a person. A small baby is greater than the sun, for the baby is self-aware, it’s spinning atoms have somehow given rise to a being and not just a thing. In the same way, a God who merely a force is lesser than I am and never worthy of worship.

So I affirm my belief in a supra-personal God, the ground of our being, the force behind all that is and will be, the breath that animates all life, who can be approached as a person and a friend.


2 Responses to “A Personal God”

  1. Linda Foshee Says:

    I liked this! It comes close to my idea of God.

  2. demas Says:

    Thanks, Linda!

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