Tuesday, December 20, 2005


"There is no God up there who is going to listen to your prayers from down here and do anything about it. You've got to do it yourself, take some responsibility for how the world is. Do good yourself instead of waiting around for some sky-bound deity to do it. God is not an excuse. Find all those good things you've attributed to God inside you - love, compassion, a heart for justice and human dignity. And ditch the things religion has taught that don't line up with the good - jealousy, arrogance, tribe mentality and its requisite genocide. It's time to show a little respect for your own abilities to make God real in the world. Sure, something you might call God may exist outside of you, but I'm not going to talk to it like it can hear me, anymore. I'm talking to you."

Found this paragraph in the pages of Geez magazine, a new magazine from editors Aiden Enns and Will Braun. This paragraph was written by Gretta Vosper, a minister of the United Church, and it is a portion of a sermon she delivered.

I crave your thoughts on this.

It is disturbing. And beautiful. And terrifying. And honest. But also very challenging and exciting. And I am once again caught within the tension of left vs. right. Neither side can accept the balance. That there is a God who cares, and who does answer prayer. That you can be a committed Evangelical Christian, following God passionately and pursuing and living in deep relationship with him while being concerned for traditional standards of morality and economic, gender, and social equality.

I struggle to find the reason why so many find these two ideas so incompatable. They would seem to have a natural and powerful connection. Christ calls us to himself, to follow him above all else, and calls us to care for the poor and oppressed. It would seem to be obvious in many readings of the Gospels. Yet I have encountered so much resistance to this. People who I have offended for being in the “middle,” for not “choosing sides” in this fight and in this struggle. Yet I look around me and see nothing but intolerance. Both from the right and from the left.

No, God is not an excuse to sit and not fight for justice. Prayer is not a substitute for action. Faith without works is dead. But at the same time, action is no substitute for confession. Unity is no substitute for the Holy Spirit. And inequality is no excuse for intolerance.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

Next topic. I can think of no better or more compelling reason to leave the Christian faith than the statement “There is no God up there who is going to listen to your prayers from down here and do anything about it . . . Sure, something you might call God may exist outside of you, but I'm not going to talk to it like it can hear me, anymore.” There has been nothing more disheartening and discouraging than this. This is truth, and it is honest. What can be done with that?
Don’t worry, though. Just a question.


Bryan said...

Interesting thoughts. There are several tragedies in the quoted paragraph, and one is the assumption that man is inherently good. That by the mere force of our wills we can somehow overcome the evil in the world, that we, on our own, have everything we need to do good without God. That we, not God, are the bringers of salvation.

Hmmm. Let's look at Marxism. Let's look at Communism. Let's look at any man-made structure, separated from God, and see how successful they have been in the long term, whether in defeating poverty, overcoming hatred, or creating a better world. It is not an idealist who thinks that we can create a better world on our own, it is someone who is hopelessly naive, someone who is out of touch with the deep-seated wickedness of the human heart.

Proper theology (according to me, at least) teaches that God gave mankind dominion over the earth, and that we certainly bear responsibility for the things that are going on. God is not going to continuously intervene to do the things that we ourselves have been charged with doing. When so-called believers refuse to make a difference in the world, people suffer, people starve, and people die as a result.

To call God a sky-bound deity is to totally deny the teachings of Christianity (and Judaism). The OT has several examples of God coming to earth, most notably in his discussion with Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. And certainly Christ's human life shows that God is not sky-bound, and again anyone who believes and has experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would also have a disagreement with this lady's statement.

Tragically, she gets the point of people who use God's name but do not obey His teachings. But there is a God, He is real, and He is active in the lives of His people, to those whose eyes have not been blinded by this world. I just hope one day this minister will come to see it.

Maria Jane Tuininga said...

I read your crap. ANd I love you!
I am newly addictedto Blogging... in fact I should be cleaning my bathroom right now...BUT I'M NOT!!!! shoot.
thought I should remind you how cool you are. And I think her quote lies somewhere between exactly whatpeople need to hear, and taking God of out a God-inspired and God-centered universe... but BY GOLLY people!!! TAKE SOME INITIATIVE, and have some OWNERSHIP!!!!!
better jet. oh lovely one.
hey, check out my blog too. cuz I am cool... like you.
bye bye love!