A Complicated God

In order to keep God distant and vague (and irrelevant) many people want to keep God simple, uncomplicated, and abstract. These are the dear folk who say, “Well, I’m not sure that I’m very religious, but I do believe in God. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?”

The problem is that once we discovered that God was in Christ, things got complicated not because the church wanted to make the simple faith of Jesus complex and confusing but because we discovered in Jesus that God was at once much more demanding and much more interesting than we had first thought. In Christ, God was reiterated in ways that meant we were forced to expand our notions of God. We could have gotten along quite nicely without the Trinity had John the Baptist not intruded into our settled arrangements with God by shouting, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).Once Jesus showed up—one “conceived by the Holy Spirit,” born of a poor peasant woman in Judea, God in the flesh, teaching, working wonders among us in the “power of the Spirit,” suffering and dying at our hands, rising after three days, returning to the very people who crucified him, breathing his Holy Spirit upon us—well, we had to talk about God in a way that only complex, dynamic Trinitarian theology could do justice. After being met by Jesus, we could never again think of God in the simple, uncomplicated way as we had before.

From The Best of Will Willimon (Abingdon, 2012.  Check out Will’s novel, Incorporation, a wild ride through the contemporary church – satire and slapstick with serious theological intent.  Available from Cascade Press https://wipfandstock.com/store/incorporation.

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