Years ago, I was quite enamored of something called "process theology." A fairly recent development in theology, it says that God does not stop horrible things from happening in the world because, plain and simple, She can't stop them. While process theology agrees that God is powerful, the power is different from the kind most people think of. According to the process folks, God's power is mostly persuasive, inviting us to work along with Her to bring the best possible outcome in any situation.
I found process theology attractive for a bit because it got God off the hook for all the evil I saw. But then it occurred to me: If God is not all-powerful in the traditional sense, then isn't She just another resident of the universe, albeit one more highly evolved than us? Why worship such a being?
|I have come to believe that God is, indeed, all-powerful and all-good, but Her goodness is quite alien to me.|
I think process has become so popular because it saves God's goodness. The Holocaust challenged anew the traditional view of God as all-powerful and all-good. Something had to give, and many people would rather give up God's power than God's goodness.
I have come to believe that God is, indeed, all-powerful and all-good, but Her goodness is quite alien to me. It is a goodness that allows death, torture, illness, pain, child abuse, rape, starvation, and a million other evils that I loathe. I believe God loathes evil, too, but for some inexplicable reason, She allows this evil to exist.
Someone like that is not "nice." She's unfathomable. Her way of seeing things is so completely alien to me that I'm not even sure the two of us could have an intelligible conversation. I don't want to have lunch with someone like that. She is so strange, so bizarre, that I have no doubt being in Her presence would be an unsettling experience. She's not warm and fuzzy. I prefer to be around folks who are vaguely similar to me. This God is definitely not like me. Not even close.
I don't like this God, but I do love her, more than I could ever love the God who made sense to me. If I believe She is all good and all powerful, and I do, then I am freed from trying to make sense of the way the world works. That's good, because I don't have the first clue. I can't figure it out, and I don't have to try,
because I know it's impossible for me to do.
|I don't like this God, but I do love her, more than I could ever love the God who made sense to me.|
All I have to do, all I can
do, is trust God. Once I do that, then my job is simply to be a human. That
I can manage. I'm freed from so much agonizing thought; I'm freed from the foolish notion that thinking right
makes the difference. I don't have to understand the complexities of creation; I can simply do my little part: recycle, avoid products that destroy the ozone layer, use my car as little as possible. I don't have to figure out which political system will bring justice to the world; I can collect canned goods for the soup kitchen, let the homeless woman live in my church, work on the voter registration drive. I don't have to pretend to know why people suffer horrible diseases and the effects of aging; I can visit an HIV patient, pray with a dying child, cut the toenails of my elderly parishioner who can't reach them any more.
This strange God can see and comprehend, all at once, the entire sweep of human history and eternity. She knows what is going to mold me into the best citizen of eternity that I can be. She knows very well all the horrors and joys of being human, because She chose to be one, in the form of Jesus. Given that experience, She cannot help but have compassion for all our suffering and empathy for the struggles of each and every person She has created. In fact, She volunteered for suffering in order to somehow change for the better our experience of eternity. Having been human, She must at some level suffer when we do. And She does it all for us. How can I not love someone like that, and love Her passionately?