We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Somehow Present & Beyond

There lies in our understanding of One, Creator, Personal God a fundamental tension for us between the Creator and Personal faces of God.  How can this One God be both creator of the whole of the cosmos and all that is in it and yet also a presence that we can somehow sense in a personal way?  Our conception of the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ mirrors that tension.  How could a man be at once human and divine?  How can God be somehow like us and yet completely and incomprehensibly unlike us?  And in our understanding of the Bible we are faced again with this fundamental tension.  How can a clearly fallible, human collection of words still somehow reveal to us the Word that connects us to the divine Beyond?  We call the church, the "body of Christ," and yet again how is it that this depressingly human institution can be a vessel somehow of the Spirit?

This tension between realities lies within us as well.  We discover it most painfully in the question of evil and good.  In our experience, these are not two separate categories that can be neatly divided from each other.  Out of one so often emerges the other.  Even in the darkest storm, we say, there is a silver lining.  We are at one and the same time good and not, evil and not.

How can God be both Beyond and Personal is a question that resonates across our human experience.  Maybe someday we will have an answer.  In the meantime, we live in faith.