God… Negotiator or Santa Claus…


Another class discussion from: Images of God. Again the Volf article isn’t available on this post… Sorry. Hopefully, the discussion will bring at least questions that will lead you to think about how you perceive God.

God…Negotiator or Santa Clause…
by Larry Williams – Wednesday, 18 January 2012, 04:20 PM
Volf presents a powerful dichotomy of how we tend to view God as either Negotiator or Santa Clause. He also speaks eloquently to our difficulty in handling either success or failure/difficulty and allowing either to be redeemed for God’s use to the world. In my experience, I have found the redemption of success for the benefit of others to be the more difficult of the two. Although, honestly, I haven’t had as much direct experience with success, I am currently finding God’s unique provision in unexpected and possibly miraculous ways. The question to me currently is:
“Will you allow God’s gracious provision and gifts to be redeemed in the same way you have pain?”
I have to allow myself to reframe the good in my life as I have been learning to do so with the hard path. I suspect it is as easy to get lost in a land of plenty as in a land of wandering. The Children of Israel seemed to find it so. I hope I am able to trash both images of God: Negotiator or Santa Clause, and instead find Aslan who “is not a tame lion… but good.” The strength of God seems to be expressed through God’s wisdom and delivered in love, although it is a vicious grace at times. I have found God’s viciousness does indeed lead to healing, both for myself, and for others as I allow my personal experience of pain to be opened for others to see, as a gift. I want to allow my pleasure to now be a similar gift to be shared. Time will tell as to how well I turn the corner. I have more learning to do, and God is the perfect Teacher.
Reply

Re: God…Negotiator or Santa Clause…
by Darrel Harvey – Thursday, 19 January 2012, 05:33 AM
Larry, I’m really excited for you as you embark on this new chapter of life. I think your notion of “I suspect it is as easy to get lost in a land of plenty as in a land of wandering,” is wise and correct. I know you just landed in the sunshine state but what are your plans for finding a community that can continue to help you shape your image of God?

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Re: God…Negotiator or Santa Clause…
by Larry Williams – Thursday, 19 January 2012, 03:15 PM
Honestly, Darrel, I am going to have to figure that out. I have hit the ground running, and it is good so far. The only way I know how to find a community of wanderers is trial and error. It has been like that for several years, and I have learned much from each stop along the way. I would love to be able to settle in somewhere. We will see…

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Re: God…Negotiator or Santa Clause…
by John Ray – Thursday, 19 January 2012, 06:44 AM
Darrel,

“A vicious grace”, that phrase reminds me of a “severe mercy”, and speaks to this idea that our faith is in a God who knows us, not that we really clearly know Him.

But we know enough right? Jesus is more than sufficient revelation, the problem is what we dismiss about Him and replace or what we add that is not there…

Just rambling now…

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Re: God…Negotiator or Santa Clause…
by Larry Williams – Thursday, 19 January 2012, 03:24 PM
“Jesus is more than sufficient revelation, the problem is what we dismiss about Him and replace or what we add that is not there”
I think I mentioned in your post, JRay, that I am trying to allow God to be who God presents God’s self to be. A sort of Buddhist take, if I understand the perspective. It’s not that I don’t want to know God, but sometimes my knowledge turns into a level of expectation, and God shows me over and over again how humorous that really is… As if my “knowing” is a sort of control, like the controversy between open theology and more traditional theology: If God knows the future, doesn’t that knowledge exert some amount of control? So I try to relate to God, yet quit trying to explain God.

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Re: God…Negotiator or Santa Clause…
by William Zuelke – Friday, 20 January 2012, 10:50 AM

So………. we claim what we believe and know about god, based on our faith and experience……….that is what gives us access, and ……..we refuse to say anything we do not know…………AND since what we do believe and/or know is often contradictory or just simply beyond our ability to comprehend, we are left without the capacity to define God or limit what God can do with and for others.

what do you think?

bill zuelke

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Re: God…Negotiator or Santa Clause…
by Larry Williams – Friday, 20 January 2012, 01:59 PM
“we are left without the capacity to define God or limit what God can do with and for others.”
Bill,
I very much like that phrase in particular. It reminds me of an old advertising campaign: “No Boundaries!” As I remember, it was a company that sold sporting goods and clothing for people who liked to get out in the wilderness. Looking at our relationship with God in a similar fashion might be helpful. We all need guides from time to time, just as in the wilderness. We all act as guides, too, when the terrain is familiar to us. Learning to relate to an endless, eternal God could certainly be considered a path without limits or boundaries, yet God also seems to place limits across which even God won’t go.
I like living in the immediacy of relationship with God, even reading scripture as if it were a living, breathing story teller with wisdom which changes with the timbre of his/her voice. I don’t disregard previous generations’ take on scripture, I just hope to understand their statements in the contexts from which they come.

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