Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Is God A Christian?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often confuse God’s religious identity with their own, leading them to believe that God in exclusively on their side in all things, and by extension, hostile to all those with whom they disagree.

In a world of increasing polarization and rising religious violence, the notion that God stands fully and exclusively with any one group or faith is not only theologically problematic for those who believe in an infinite God, but actually quite dangerous.  For raising those issues, Kirby is to be thanked.  The likely hood that religion will be a source for as much public healing in the 21st century as it has already been a source of public suffering hinges on this issue, if not exclusively, then at least quite significantly.

In pursuing this important line of thought however, the author makes statements and pursues a methodology that is itself problematic in many ways — ways which also invite consideration in an honest exploration of this book.  Kirby consistently writes about what, for lack of a better term might be called religious fundamentalists or fundamentalist approaches to God and religion, almost as judgmentally and arrogantly as those people often have treated him.

From the very beginning of the book, for example, the author refers to Christians with whom he has deep theological disagreements, especially on the issues addressed in the book, as “Christians” – note the quotation marks indicating that that are not really Christians at all.  Kirby doesn’t even seem to notice the irony of doing this in the midst of stories which inveigh against those very people reading Kirby out of his own Baptist community!  What happened to doing to others as you would have them do to you?

I raise this issue precisely because I share so many of the author’s concerns, and identify so closely with so many of his solutions.  Kirby’s book is not simply some academic exercise, but a heartfelt effort to bridge the worlds of deep religious commitment to particular traditions, and the absolute necessity to remain cognizant of and respectful toward other communities.  If we cannot figure out how to do both of those at the same time, we are going to kill each other and ourselves.  Because the stakes are so high, we cannot avoid asking tough questions.

It is a matter of pride among people who identify with words like progressive, forward-thinking, and inclusive, to be at the forefront of bridging that divided, but if those terms become synonymous with treating those who think differently as backward, narrow-minded people who don’t “get” God, then what have we gained?

This book intrigued me and it surely raises questions with which all people committed to any cause, and especially to a faith, must wrestle.  It just needs a better, more nuanced ending.

Is God A Christian? answers the question posed by the title with an unqualified “no”.  But perhaps by offering a qualified “yes”, the author would serve his important cause better.  Instead of undermining God’s Christian identity, one might imagine that God is, or could be, a Christian, just as God is, or could be, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, etc. all at the same time.

The issue is not what God is, or even how we need to experience the 100 per cent realty that God is as we experience God being – as long as no one of those identities is thought to exhaust all of who God is.  For an infinite God, multiple identities are neither problematic nor incoherent; they are simply loving concessions to a finite faithful.

As is so often the case, the issue isn’t God, the issue is us.

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posted September 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

Insightful article. I have not read or even heard of the book, but the author is partially correct. People often view God as whatever they are, religiously. God is so far beyond our comprehension that we are silly to try to quantify Him. It is truly an exercise in futility to try to fathom the unfathomable.
many an ateist wants us to “prove” He exists, they would try to test and quantify Him if He did show His existence. They would try to analyze and figure out where His power came from so they could use that power for themselves, so they could become “like” him. Lucifer wanted that, look wgere it got him. God is so much wiser than we, He will not put Himself on display.

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Peter Knehans

posted November 25, 2011 at 9:28 am

G-d is neither a Jew, Christian, or anything else. Avhram was not a Jew, but from his loins would come Ya’acov surnamed Yisra’el. HaShem is neither a Jew nor Christian, but is YHVH Adonai. As a Messianic Gentile who follows the Torah of Moshe and Yeshua HaMoshiach, I think we need to differentiate between the Almighty and religions constituted by man.

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Moot Point

posted December 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

No Sky-Fairy. No Sky-Fairy Picnic. Get over it.

Asking ridiculous non-questions like this just shows how addicted to conflict self-righteous religious people are.

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Mr. Incredible

posted December 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Yes, He’s Christian cuz He gave His Son ALL His authority. So, He must’ve believed in/on Him and His Name.

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posted January 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm

God is reformed Baptist church of God, reformation of 1879.
(Hopefully, someone here will catch the joke.)

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Your Name

posted May 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I have always been of the strong belief that you cannot claim to know more about someone that we both have not seen. All religions ONLY express their own limited understanding of God.

However, a closer look at the Bible (and possibly other Holy books) will reveal the mind of God in such a way that we can all appreciate the essence of life and the need to be our brothers’ keeper. To love and to care. To accommodate and tolerate. To serve and to hope.

I totally agree that the problem is indeed not God, but us.

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mark sibert

posted May 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I like the Bhuddist scripture, The Lotus Sutra, which give metaphors of how a loving god uses various means (meaning religions) to save ALL his redeemable people.

And I say “why not?” Each of us has a certain degree of understanding of things, emotional range, mental ability and inhibitions or prohibitions. Why not think God found a religion/belief system appropriate.

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posted May 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Ridiculous. That is the stupidous (sp?)question I’ve ever heard !

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posted September 6, 2012 at 12:15 am

God is a creation of man. Just listen to yourselves. God is this. No is that. God is Christian. God is love. God is what you want him to be. You made him up. He is in your minds no where else. Stupid religious morons.

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