Since God is our Heavenly Father – we can consider how an earthly father might hope that his children should regard and address him – especially if that earthly father’s wish was for his sons and daughters to grow into unique and developed personalities who would at some point undergo a transition from child dependent to adult ‘friend’.Taking this perspective, it seems clear to me that a good father would hope for love of course, and also respect and due deference – but not ‘worship’, submission, abasement, grovelling or anything of that sort – which would more appropriate to a tyrant than to a father.
my first thought was that it is sheer Luciferian blasphemy, implying that worship, adulation, submission, and recognition of utter dependence could ever become inappropriate responses to the Ground of Being, Subsistent Existence and Goodness (and that therefore it is a tyrannical vision that “the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all“). Then I remembered that Bruce’s idea of God is very different from this. He is merely another finite being in the world, rather than a Creator apart from it. He lacks the classic divine attributes, and at least some beings aren’t dependent on Him for their existence (making one wonder why this God could not be removed altogether with a justifiable blow of Occam’s razor). “Loving father” or not, I am not inclined to worship this being either. In fact, I have no use for him whatsoever. I already have a human father with whom I’m satisfied, and I’ve reached the point in life anyway where I worry less about having a loving father than about being one.
I hate to pick on Bruce in particular, a man from whom I’ve learned a great deal and one who has always treated me respectfully. Many other versions of theistic personalism are open to similar criticisms. However, Bruce is a sort of mentor to the Orthosphere, so his writings always get more special attention from me. The fact is that it’s very hard to come up with a conception of God that fosters what we know is the proper attitude toward Him. It is Bruce’s primary critique of the classical conception of God that it supposedly doesn’t help us relate to Him properly. Now he himself sees that his own conception has a tendency to undermine the elementary religious emotions of awe, worship, submission, the sense of one’s own nothingness before the Infinite. So both conceptions have their pitfalls, and one must be wary in giving too much authority to any particular idea or picture of God.
Talking about God, one must walk a narrow line between reducing Him to just another person on whom we are not fundamentally dependent (in which case how could He give meaning to our lives or have anything to do with morality?) or reducing Him to a metaphysical abstraction like the Platonic Good or One on the other (in which case one could not relate to Him personally with gratitude, love, or repentance). Our only positive knowledge of God comes from analogical thinking based on finite creatures. When playing this game, we must remember not to sneak into our idea of God the limitations inherent in the beings from which we draw analogies. A good human father wouldn’t demand worship and ritual sacrifice, presume to forgive sins of which he is not the victim, predestine some souls to heaven, or punish unrepentant sinners with eternal damnation, but the God of the Bible certainly does.
Filed under: Uncategorized |