Monday, February 09, 2009

Shrinking God

We have Billy and Caroline Kennedy out with us for a few days, which is really great. They have to come to hang out and do a little bit of training with us.

I have a cold which is bugging me. I was going to say flu, but it would only be man flu.

I love training, learning new things, being challenged to grow.

I guess this whole new move has proved to be a massive learning curve and probably will continue to be one.

Comfortable-ness is something we create no matter what are circumstances are, we create little worlds of comfort. Or we soon become acclimatized to new things. When we first went out on the west end it made me feel uncomfortable but after a while you become used to it, you learn a lot, but you still become comfortable. This is natural.

I realise that we probably learn more through periods of discomfort and upheavel than we do when everything is going well. This is probably why I find it hard to subscribe to some of the faith ministries that are out there. There is a philosophy that Christians should be blessed and that blessing should be in a smooth and prosperous life. I can't run with that.

Read Job, look at the life of David, trail through the book of Acts or any particular book in the Bible and most of it was written by people who went through hard times, yet hung on to their faith.

My biggest worry about faith ministries is that in the long term they actually damage peoples faith. If you are meant to be healthy, financially stable and blessed. Where do you go when it all goes wrong.

You believe for healing and someone dies. Is that your fault or Gods? Your faith takes a battering.

You believe you are meant to be financially blessed. How does that work for a christian in a refuge camp in Darfur?

My other worry with the whole faith ministry scene is that if you ever try to talk to someone involved in it, it's like trying to talk to a jehovah witness. They have so many prepared formulaic bible verses, interpreted in a modernistic and scientific sense that it is hard to argue with them. Their God has been reduced to a slot machne, it you say the right thing, pray the right prayer quote the the right bible verse than he will deliver. A + B + C = D

Where's the mystery in that? How can these people have the audacity to believe that they have sussed who God is and can make him work for them just by following the prescribed teaching? They have worked God out, they know what to say to get certain results. If they don't get the results they expect they ignore them because it could look like they are doubting and then the Big Man will punish their lack of faith.

If it all goes wrong, they don't blame God they blame themselves, with an almost "must try harder next time" kind of attitude.

It's all to simplistic for me, and I am actually a man who likes simplicity.

Faith ministries are reductionistic, they shrink God.


Anonymous said...

A shrinking God indeed... Mystery and faith; answered prayer and paradoxes - I liked this. Many things work until we get our hands dirty with God's fallen world.

Like what you blog - helpful for a healthy focus.

Dave Carrol said...

It's a tricky balance. Because when you hear of people who throw themselves out of the boat and really believe for big things (like healing) ... and they happen I'm not sure how the value of that can be argued.

I believe what you're saying too Brian. I'm on this side... but I remember having a chat with a missionary from northern Ghana and hearing him talk about the number of people that he's seen raised from the dead with other northern Ghanaian missionaries who had experienced it as a relatively common occurrence... and it kinda made me mad.

I told them that not only had I never seen or heard of it anywhere in Canada... EVER... but that if I brought them to my church as got them to tell their story... most wouldn't believe them. He looked a combination of puzzled and mortified. I asked him why (in his opinion) that was. He told, "Well then you don't believe the Bible." And that made me even madder. ha...

But there is some truth to it. It's totally far from a formula. And I think that what you've written about is very true. But I'm not sure there are enough people who live with the healthy philosophy that you've described are stepping into a place of vulnerable faith and TRULY believing for the miraculous. Then letting God be God and do His thing...

just some thoughts

Mark G said...

My dad was one of the leaders of the Church when I was a kid. My mum is still a great woman of prayer. My dad is declining badly with Alzheimer's. I struggle every day as to how this all fits with the God-formulas that I was brought up with. The formulas are all complete bollox, but the awesome God of all creation is still my Abba. I love and trust him in the mist of my complicated journey....and know that (s)he is bigger than me and any box I couled fit him/her in.

Bless you Brian, for your honesty.

Blackdog said...

Hey Brian thanks for this, it's probably the best verbalization I've heard of something that's been on my heart for the last year. God is truely a mystery to us, not that this makes the pain of hard times any easier, but knowing that we're in His arms while the rain is coming down can be a lesson in love that other nice experiences can not convey. Gods love is beyond our comprehension, sometimes the greatest act of faith is letting go and holding on.


Anonymous said...

it's not a theology of suffering we need...but a theology of death.

not a theology of prosperity...but a theology of simplicity.

not a theology of perfection...but a theology of messiness.

thanks for what you've written here.