Monday, February 22, 2010

Paper-training God

I recently watched the first segment of  Frustration and False Gods: Living in a Fallen World, that is part of Convergence, a new small group discussion series hosted by Donald Miller.  I was especially struck by something that Christian counselor Dan Allender said in the conversation with Miller and Old Testament professor Tremper Longman.  Allender says that many Christians are uncomfortable with a God who is as wild and mysterious as God is and respond by attempting to "paper-train God."  What a great word picture! Can you imagine trying to paper-train God?

It's true that God is indeed mysterious and wild, relative to my human understanding and I would be more comfortable with Him if I could train Him to behave in ways that I could understand and in ways that don't inconvenience me.  What's absolutely false is the notion that I can train God the way I might be able to train my dog.  Left to his own, my dog can be pretty wild and mysterious, too and I've had enough trouble training him to behave within acceptable limits! 

I think that "training God" thing is where we Christians get into trouble and it's precisely where we create bad PR for God.  Rather than letting God be who He is, we attempt to repackage Him in ways that seem more understandable  and more comfortable for us and in doing so, we sometimes misrepresent Him to those who don't yet know Him. 

In what ways do you think you've tried to "paper-train God?"

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