Deconstructing our non-relational god (part one)

Have we made a god in our evangelical imaginations so immovable, so self-sufficient, so transcendent, so other…that He’s unapproachable and unknowable to us? Have we made Him so lofty that we’ve forgotten that we’re in Him?

I’m going to cover this subject in two parts. I’m also including C. Baxter Kruger video clips  to help me make my point. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that C. Baxter Kruger is one of my favorite theologians and I quote him a lot. Please watch the clip because He makes some important points about our understanding of God that will help you understand what I’m trying to relate here.

First, here’s my question that I want you to consider…

If God is not in relationship within Himself then how can He be relational?

In other words, how can God be love or be kind or be merciful, by nature, apart from His creation?

This is why understanding the relationship within the Godhead is critically important. By saying “Godhead” we mean God as Father, Son and Spirit, existing in mutual union without loss of distinction (technically called “perichoresis”). And without this being true of God, He cannot be relational. For it would not be in His nature, apart from His creation. For instance…

You cannot say that God is good, kind, long-suffering, just, gracious or merciful–those are relational terms.

God cannot be love (1 John 4:8) because love requires a relationship (I made this point in greater detail here…)

If God is alone He cannot be personal–again, being personal requires relationship.

He cannot give enjoyment. Enjoyment is inherently a relational term.

Think about it. How can God demonstrate love if it never existed in His nature? This would be like someone trying to write about love that they themselves have never experienced.

The fact is, there is no relational aspect of creation that can exist if it does not first exist in God. Where would it come from if not from God?

C. Baxter Kruger masterfully dissects this cold stainless steel non-relational view we’ve created about God in our Protestant traditions in the video clip. He points out that we’ve made the Triune relational nature of God an ancillary “add-on” and not central to our faith. But how can this not be most central?

Do you see the implications for us? For instance, Here’s what Kruger says about being godly, using our traditional definitions of God…

“If God is alone, and we’re going to be godly, then we have to be alone…distant…separated…removed…unapproachable.”

And do you see how our stoic view of God affects our view of relationships? Our marriages? Even our view of salvation? Why God does what He does? Intimacy itself?

For if God is impersonal and alone, then we are alone.

And if God is not love, which He cannot be if He is alone, then all we are left with is fear.

Yet we’re haunted by our emptiness because we instinctively know there must be something more than just a god to be served or else.

We’re left trying to appease an impersonal, mysterious and exacting taskmaster version of God. We’re left to fend for ourselves–alone–to be controlled and manipulated by those who promise connection but never deliver.

Some grow weary of this fruitless pursuit so they invent their own god of indulgence–one who won’t expect anything from them…but won’t fill the deepest longings of their heart either.

But they haven’t really left God, they’ve left a religious facsimile that can never fully give them what they’re looking for.

I submit to you that this mythical separation we’ve created with God is a major contributor to our orphan-mindset.

Not that we aren’t saved, but we live like we’re alone. After all, we believe we were created in His image–alone.

We wait for God to “visit” us and “come down” so that we can have our orphan revivals in our orphan churches.

Beloved, how we see God matters. And not understanding this can have devastating consequences in our relationship with Him..

Jesus seems to think this relationship is the whole point of Christianity.

I talked about this in “Do you know where your mansion is?” His desire is what we would enter into this Divine Fellowship that He’s had with the Father from eternity (bold-text added)…

that they all may be one,
as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You;
that they also may be one in Us,
that the world may believe that You sent Me. 
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them,
that they may be one just as We are one: 
I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one,
and that the world may know that You have sent Me,
and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me
where I am, that they may behold My glory
which You have given Me;
for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
(John 17:21-24)

So, here is the C. Baxter video clip from his message, “The Three Chairs.” (You can see the whole teaching here…thank you, “Father’s House Ministries”). Please watch this and think about these things. And get ready for an upgrade!

More next time…

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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8 Responses to Deconstructing our non-relational god (part one)

  1. This makes so much sense, Mel. As I think you’ve said before, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s fear. All our actions, thoughts, speech AND our theology must be based on love. God’s love.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, Susan. Everything is based on love, otherwise, we actually have nothing. And it effects everything else we do or how we see life. And the whole point of our salvation is to come into this union, this fellowship, that Jesus has had with the Father from eternity. It’s actually very clear in Scripture when you see it. The fact that this is not taught, not clearly understood by all Christians is testament to the devastating effects our stoic religious mindset about God has had on our life in Christ. Most Christians still think the main thing is going to heaven when you die. It’s the “elder brother” mentality (Luke 15:31). And this is why so much preaching is manipulative and holding out carrots–why the pure grace message is feared and demonized. It’s all tied together. It’s mind boggling to me why Christians don’t get this, yet I remember that I thought that way for almost 30 years of my Christian life so I understand. But I believe we’re all beginning to come out of the fog of this orphan-based religion into the pure love and light of our union in Christ! 🙂

    • Oh, I pray your right about that, Mel. I sometimes feel like those of us who write about the freedom and love in Christ are salmon swimming upstream. But then I remember that He is the River of Living Water; He holds me up and keeps me from drowning. So, in my own way, I’ll just keep on singing, “Come to the river!”

      Bless you swimming beside me, brother salmon. 😉

    • Mel Wild says:

      Well, it was up to us, it would be futile. But Jesus is the One building His church. That’s why I’m confident that He is waking up His Bride. Our job is to seek the Kingdom, His job is to build His Church. Not that there won’t be a lot of resistance. As C. Baxter Kruger also said, “Religion is what you do when you don’t know you’re included in Him.” And it’s the religious spirit that has always been the greatest antagonist against the Kingdom of God advancing. It was in Jesus’ day and it’s alive and well today also. Blessings to you as well!

  2. TK says:

    This makes so much sense. I imagine this is why so many Christians feel the need to separate from others and to avoid association with any who believe differently. They are making themselves alone in their faith.

    I’ve never considered God as something quiet so high. That is to say, I never felt like I could only speak in rehearsed prayers when I prayed to God. Many nights as a child I would start my prayers with a “how’s it going, God?” It’s always been a relationship between me and God. I never thought of God as needing me as much as my needing God… but this is very interesting. So, before creation, God either wasn’t those relational attributes or God had them for himself.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, I think we’re closer to the simple truth of abiding in God when we’re children. Before we get so indoctrinated in being so separated by our legalistic doctrines. This stoic mindset is very subtle and insidious. I believe that the Reformers were rightly trying to exalt the transcendence of God, in their day, against the rising tide of higher criticism and humanism. But, in doing so, the intimacy and fellowship in union with God was the casualty. Roman jurisprudence won the day over intimacy, revelation, and union in our mindset about Christianity in our Western culture. We have paid a heavy price for this emphasis. We have turned the eternal purposes of God, talked about by Paul in Eph.3, which was to bring us into this union as His sons and daughters, into some sterile, legal court case to keep us out of hell. But you can’t have much of a marriage based on a legal argument. Hardly romantic! (And God is THE Divine Romantic!) But praise God, I believe we’re waking up to the beauty of this Divine fellowship based in God’s relentless and unfathomable love. Blessings.

  3. Pingback: Deconstructing our non-relational god (part two) | In My Father's House

  4. Pingback: God as Father means relationship | In My Father's House

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