Sunday, April 28, 2013

Arbitrary Divinity

This probably isn't exactly surprising, but I don't believe God is arbitrary, and I don't believe God makes arbitrary or unreasonable designations, assignations, or demands. My view of God includes an omnipotent, omniscient, triune Creator who created the universe, math, physics, science, music, logic, reason, and the perfection of every study and discipline. I also believe that, creating these things, (and many others) God delights to work within them. This is not to say that I'm denying the miraculous, or limiting God to my own limited understanding. I simply believe that if God created reason as well as faith, a generally consistent universe, and gave mankind an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of ourselves and of our world, it would make no sense for God to decry our using these gifts to understand God, the Bible, our faith, or ourselves. It would also make no sense for God to create a system in which understanding and knowing why was impossible. As Galileo said: "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them." I believe that God sometimes has reasons which we cannot always grasp, but that God always has reasons and plans behind what God does or commands.

The way we view God spills over into our exegesis of scripture as well. If I believed that God was arbitrary, I could reduce my biblical study to "God made it that way. I don't know why; He just did. Enough said." This would be tragic; not only would I miss much of the nature and character of God through neglecting the study of history and context, but this would lead me to inaccurate scripture interpretations as well. For example: take the issue of women and their roles in the church and home. If you take a strictly literal (ignoring quotations, context, audience, et c) view of certain passages, you'd be led to believe that God intended women for a submissive role in life to men. There could be only two reasons for this: 1. This is the best fit for the created nature and natural capabilities of women, (I think we've debunked that enough- it's BS, plain and simple) or 2. God, knowing women to be capable of and inclined to equality and sharing of leadership in the home, church, and professional world, chose arbitrarily to limit their sphere. If I believed that God dealt in the purely arbitrary, it would make sense that God made me, gave me brains and administrative skills, and then decided that I could serve God best by ignoring my created nature and following arbitrary role designations to prove my devotion. Needless to say, that sounds ridiculous to me. I fully believe that God from the beginning of creation intended me as a woman to have all of the imago dei that my husband has, and that God intends for me to use the gifts and skills God has given me without regard to gender. I believe that God has a reason for everything that made it into our canon, and for every divine action. One of my favorite bible verses is Proverbs 25:2, which says:  It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. God created me with a thirst to know creation and to know God, and being content with the arbitrary would destroy that for me. I believe in the unknown, in the imperfection of my human reason compared to the divine, and the necessity of holding in faith things I do not yet know. I do not believe in resigning things, important things, to the sphere of the unknowable and incomprehensible. The God I know and love is in favor of quests to find out, to know, and to understand. This God deals in master plans, grand schemes, and magnificent symphonies of perfectly working things, not arbitrary rules, puppet strings, impossible requirements, or pettily keeping wisdom from my grasp.

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