A Response to Comments so far
I had not intended to post anything on the blog this weekend, but I am going to respond to one or two of the comments I have received by other means. I am doing so like this so that others can share in the discussion! I hope eventually that I can encourage you to leave comments here, although I appreciate that not everyone is comfortable with doing so.
It is clear that some are still operating in a climate where the Authoritarian God is still the dominant view of God, and so you rather like the idea of the Benevolent God. You are in an environment where all that the Church seems to be able to do is condemn people. Quite naturally, you see there are problems with this view of God, and want a God more sympathetic to people and more able to respond to them as they are, where they are.
This is why some of us felt the need to try and move away from believing in an Authoritarian God, and why we found the idea of a Benevolent God so attractive. But in many parts of the Church, this Benevolent God is the God that people believe in. This is the God of the public face of much of the Church of England, for example. And the fact is that people are not being attracted either to (him) or to the Church. If I can do what I like, and there are never any consequences, why do I need a God? If all I need God for is moral support, I can get that from my friends and family. This God really is just a heavenly teddy bear, Freud’s crutch for weak people. Ultimately, and paradoxically, this God doesn’t have a whole lot of relevance to people, despite all the attempts to be relevant, because all (he) seems to say is, ‘I accept you just as you are’. Well, if that’s the case, so what?
Others are worried about what would happen if we moved away from the idea of a Benevolent God, wouldn’t we just end up back where we started? Are there any real alternatives? In my series on God, I will be writing of the two other views of God identified by researchers in the US, but these are not likely to prove any more attractive.
The choice, then, seems to be between a God who always condemns everyone and a God who has nothing much to say accept ‘welcome’. This may seem somewhat simplistic, but, in essence, isn’t this precisely the choice the Anglican Communion has got itself into with its battle between traditionalists and liberals?
I don’t want to say too much more until I have worked through the two remaining categories in the series Changing our View of God: ‘God and Atonement’ and ‘God and Judgement’.
I will post the third in the series on God tomorrow. Then the next in the series, Changing our View of God, on Tuesday.
Thank you again to all who are reading and commenting.
Have a good week!