Talking About God

Yesterday, I posted about how our language can be limiting to God or even place God in a box.  This is due to the incomprehensibleness of the divine and the insufficiency of our language.  So what are we to do?  How are we to talk about God with our limited language and still remain faithful?

First off, let me say that despite the fact that our language is insufficient, there is nothing wrong with saying “God is love.”  Why?  First and foremost, it is consistent with the Bible and the Christian tradition.  There are several references to God as love or God’s loving action in the Bible.

The Bible is full of all kinds of descriptions of God.  While lacking in some form or another because of our human experience, they are faithful descriptions of God and any of them are appropriate illustrations of God.

I think Wesley J. Wildman and Stephen Chapin Garner clearly point out what the problem is with our language about God.

Our working images of God are tailored to our particular needs for God and to our creative, yet limited, ability to imagine that which we believe but cannot fully conceive.  Thus, it is developmentally appropriate and psychologically intelligible to use God images to engage the incomprehensible and image-breaking divine reality.

The problem arises when we being to think that our favorite image of God is the only one or the best one.  We lose track of the contrast between God’s infinity and our finite humanity.  This tendency may be part of the human condition but it is a trap that mature Christians in every generation learn to avoid.

So when I talk about God as love, I pull from the whole of Christian tradition.  I know that the word “love” is insufficient, but it’s the best that I have to describe the infinite.  I also talk about God as Father, Mother, protector, redeemer.  In other words, I don’t limit myself to one illustration of God, I don’t think God is just love.  That’s when the problems start and it’s a vicious downward spiral, the next step is idolatry and intolerance.

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