Sunday, December 31, 2006
God on the Net: Part II
Much of yesterday afternoon having been devoted to de-mudding Petra (she had a long, muddy fall from a frisky horse at her lesson), I have been slow to find my way back to this topic.
In her discussion of The Great Transformation, Armstrong says some startling things about God (at which some readers and commenters on the Salon site have taken real offense). The thing that is burning most deeply in my heart is her conviction that for most people our understanding of God is so impoverished as to be nearly useless for meaningful dialogue or even as a basis for action. As someone who makes a living on my supposed expertise in this area I find this troubling. I sense there is truth in her assertion: after all, even by my own creeds and confessions, God is infinitely more than anything within my power to conceive.
As many problems as I have with the confession as a whole, there is an honesty and humility to the opening of chapter II of the Westminster catechism that speaks to this ineffability, this unknowability:
1. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty; most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withalhmost just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
They lose me near the end there...I have a distinctly un-Presbyterian universalist streak. Armstrong might subscribe to a couple of these descriptors: infinite, invisible, immense, incomprehensible. As for the rest, I think (and I have not read the book, so this is inferring a lot from an interview), I believe she would remain agnostic.
When I come up smack agains the unknowability of God, I find myself in unsettling territory. I believe the life of Jesus tells me something about God. But does it give me a road map, a portrait? I don't know.
More on the Slate piece later...