I spent some time exploring a blog recently dedicated to those who have “de-converted” from Christianity to atheism or some other belief system. As I explored the site, one thing became apparent. These individuals have a faulty view of God.
What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us (A.W. Tozer). This tells us what kind of God we believe in. Most nonreligious people are rejecting a god that they don’t even understand. And if they did, they would probably call a truce and stop fighting against Him so much.
It sounds to me that the kind of God they want is a “genie” they can rub or a “vending machine” they can deposit a prayer into and have Him to dispense their fix. It’s God in their image and it distorts who He is. God is very particular in how we think about Him, describe Him, and define Him. We want a god who is safe, nice, pampering, just so long as he keeps his distance. Provide, don’t intrude. Protect, never demand. Care, but don’t judge or meddle in my business. Don’t crowd me. And if you don’t do as I ask, then I’ll stop believing in you and this will be my way of getting back at you. This is what I sense over at the De-Conversion blog.
A former chaplain at Harvard, George Buttrick, recalls that students would often come into his office and declare, “I don’t believe in God.” The wise chaplain would then reply, “Sit down and tell me what kind of God you don’t believe in. I probably don’t believe in that God either.” See, if I can declare that God doesn’t exist or that he is like one of so many misguided concepts of God, then it relieves me from the responsibility of being one of His creations and wrestling with the hurt of life. These misled images and concepts of god have become our idols. And we have become our own gods.
So where do we get the right picture of God? After George Buttrick would ask his Harvard students that question, then he would go on to talk about Jesus, the corrective to all of our assumptions about God. “He is the aperture through which the immensity and magnificence of God can be begun to be seen (J.B. Phillips, 85).”