Please support us during these difficult times so we can continue to be a defining, authentic and intellectually honest voice for progressive Christianity. To grow the Progressive Christian movement. To support communities in their evolving faith. To positively transform the world through spirituality, informed theology, social justice, and environmental stewardship. If everyone reading this right now makes a donation we would be able to continue offering these for free.

Is God a person?

Question & Answer

Scottie from Seattle, asks:

Question:

Is God a person?

Answer: Lauren Van Ham

Dear Scottie,

In my theology, “Yes, and…”

The universe began its intricate, gigantic, and truly awesome expansion 13.7 billion years ago. Humans arrived on the scene a mere 5 million years ago. Therefore, God is and has been many things, including humanity. Everything that exists now, or has existed in this span of time, originated within that first spark of Divinity. Each being I encounter is a manifestation of God – my neighbor across the street, the rows of earth teeming with vegetables, the flight attendant, the feral cats living near the bike path, the sea lions sunning themselves outside the aquarium, and on and on. All life forms hold particular intelligences and dimensions. Humans carry will and the ability to reason. Spiritual disciplines help us to both appreciate our abilities, as well as to take responsibility for the power and privilege they grant.

To reduce God to only being a person seems woefully short-sighted. God is life, and life perpetually pulsates around us, whether or not we sit in witness to each inhale and exhale. And then, God is in the negative spaces, too: the night sky following sunset, the patches of canvas that haven’t received paint, and the nano-second of “no-thingness” before one cell descends, becoming a root, and the other ascends, becoming a shoot. Perhaps, before anything else, God is possibility. Within possibility there can be creativity and there can be destruction. As carriers of God, we have been given the humbling task of discernment; of moving through the world not simply as entitled takers, but as deep listeners, responding wisely and with love to the needs and shifts of life’s unfolding.

So, yes, God is a person, manifesting as possibility in every human everywhere, and God is so, so much more.

~ Lauren Van Ham

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author

Lauren Van Ham was born and raised beneath the big sky of the Midwest; Lauren holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Naropa University and The Chaplaincy Institute.  Following her ordination in 1999, Lauren served as an interfaith chaplain in both healthcare (adolescent psychiatry and palliative care), and corporate settings (organizational development and employee wellness). Her passion and training in the fine arts, spirituality and Earth’s teachings has supported her specialization in eco-ministry, grief and loss, and sacred activism.  Lauren’s work with Green Sangha (a Bay Area-based non-profit) is featured in Renewal, a documentary celebrating the efforts of environmental activism taking place in religious America.  Her essay, “Way of the Eco-Chaplain” appears in the collection, Ways of the Spirit: Voices of Women.  Lauren tends a private spiritual direction practice and serves as Dean for The Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, CA.

Review & Commentary