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Q and A – God a Him?

Question

 

Hello –

I just read about you for the first time yesterday and am very interested. My personal faith has been “in line” with your ideas for years. I have still attended church and taken from it what seemed to coincide with my beliefs.

I have read also a little about the Canadian group by the same name, and find that I am not where they are. God is still very important to me. He/she may not be able, evidently, to intervene in our material circumstances – but for that reason I shouldn’t disconnect from him/her altogether. Most of the time I continue saying “him”, simply because to include the female pronoun every time is awkward.

I wrote an essay a year ago called “Christianity for the Modern Person,” but have not been able to distribute that.

I will be glad to hear from you. Perhaps you can refer me to some of your earlier writings – the things you said to one another when you were beginning.

Thank you, with sincere good wishes – Carolyn, Montreal, Quebec.

 

Answer

 

Hi Carolyn,

Thanks for writing. You raise several interesting and important questions. Let me deal with the easiest one first. Yes we are connected to the organization in Canada. We helped start the Canadian Center for Progressive Christianity nearly 15 years ago. The person who leads that group is a wonderful speaker, author and a good friend, Gretta Vosper. She has written several books. She deal directly with your question in her book, With or Without God. She is pushed the envelope a bit on the “God issue” by recently declaring herself as an atheist. She is using the term in scholarly correct way which means she is not a theist. That is someone who believes in a deity with anthropomorphic features or even a humanly way of thinking. I would not necessarily disagree with her but I am reluctant to use the term atheist because it is so often misinterpreted as meaning there is nothing that connects all life. However I would agree when we start applying human words or descriptions to the something we otherwise call “god” we are being a little narcissistic, and worse we are putting limitations on to a Great Mystery. What we are referring to is a mystery beyond human conception.

The truth is no one really has any idea what we mean when we use the term God. And when we use he and she or father or even “father/mother” we are just using terms that the ancient people used. We have to remember that they thought the world was flat and God was in the sky. They believed we could see god through the dome they believed covered the earth at night when they were in fact looking at stars that may have been 300 million miles away. They may very well have been “seeing” light from a star that had burned out several million years before.

The term “God” is a humanly created metaphor and I believe it is long past time to create new metaphors that fit our age and knowledge. I have written several articles on this subject over the years. Some of them are still on our site. The latest one was actually about prayer but does cover your questions.  I wrote another one you might find helpful called “The God Thing.”  That was written a few years ago. Bishop Spong has dealt with this subject in both his books and his weekly column. Several other of our contributing authors have addressed this issue. You may want to use our search engine to find other writers who have tried to deal with this challenging subject themselves.

I hope you will find this helpful.

Again thank you for writing,

Fred Plumer

Review & Commentary