Friday, November 19, 2004

The Nice Guy syndrome: Why do we choose to relate to God?…

Does it matter whether or not God is fair? I recently heard a preacher make a statement along the lines of, “I wouldn’t want to serve a God who was unjust.” The fact that he found God to be just was, evidently, but one of the reasons that caused him to put his faith in God. Conversely, when discussing the concept of relative morality, I have had critics take issue with what they consider to be God’s unjust or evil nature – the implication being that such a God is unworthy of their allegiance. But when it comes to acknowledging who God is, does it really matter what His disposition is? Do we see any Biblical examples of people choosing to follow God solely, or primarily, because they consider Him just? Or do we see examples of people acknowledging that God is the Creator of all there is and that, as such, there is an inherent obligation owed to Him? I would argue that it is the latter. J. Budzsizewski seems to argue as much in his book, What We Can’t Not Know, when he discusses the basis of the first five of the Ten Commandments (i.e., the First Tablet). He writes,
The point of the First Commandment is that the one true God, and only the one true God, is to be worshipped as God. To hold that this biblical injunction belongs equally to the natural law is to hold that although not everyone believes the Bible as the word of God, everyone does know that there is one true God and that he owes Him sole worship. If this is true, then those who say they don't know of any such God are fooling themselves, and biblical revelation merely "blows their cover." The Commandment presupposes more than just the knowledge that God is real. It presupposes that we also understand that benefit incurs obligation, supreme benefit incurs supreme obligation, and we are indebted to God for benefits beyond all others. This in turn presupposes that we know the principle, "Give to each what is due to him," what we owe God being loyalty, worship, and obedience. To deny Him is the deepest form of treason - much more serious than the ordinary sort.
It is unfortunate that our 21st century Western culture has allowed the church to turn the act of choosing allegiance to God into a decision based on whether or not we think Him to be nice. While the aspect of God’s Love (e.g., Jesus’ discourse in John 14 – 16) should not be overlooked, we must also not lose sight of His true identity – and the fullness it entails. When the thirsty Jill Pole, in C. S. Lewis’ book, The Silver Chair, encountered Aslan the Lion, he stood between her and the cool water she so desperately wanted. He tells her to come and drink. Upon asking if he would promise not to harm her, he replied that he would make no such promise. Upon asking if he would eat her, he cryptically responds that he has swallowed up boys, girls, men, women, and whole cities. That is who He is. Indeed, C. S. Lewis understood well the relationship between God and Man. In describing his turning from an atheist to a theist, he wrote:
In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; that night a most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. (emphasis added)
For further reference, check my post, On a fiendish God.

1 comment:

greg said...

Your passgage from The Silver Chair immediately brought to mind another such passage from The Great Divorce when the angel wants to remove the lizard from the man's shoulder. The man cried out in pain at the heat from the angel's hand and said something to the effect of, "You said it wouldn't hurt me." If I remember correctly, the angel replied, "I never said it wouldn't hurt you. I said it wouldn't kill you."

Indeed.