In the last post, I tried to illustrate two basic points: (1) everyone has a set of beliefs about God (a “theology”) – even if the belief is simply that there is no God and (2) what you believe about God matters.
The greatest threat to a “good” theology is the temptation to shape God in our image. This is the opposite of the Christian scripture’s idea about God, which is that he has shaped and continues to shape us in his image.
Examples of the danger of shaping God in our image, both from distant history and from yesterday’s headlines, abound. However, these two should serve to illustrate the point:
– American South: During the early days of America, preachers and ministers would regularly advocate that slavery was appropriate, approved, and even blessed by God. God did not make white and black equal. Thus, there was nothing wrong with the “system,” and – as a result of this theology – the system continued unchallenged for many decades.
– Nazi Germany. I’m not as well-versed on this one, but I understand that there were Christian leaders who got behind and even offered justification for an aggressive imperialistic state and the horrific abuse of Jews in Nazi Germany. Again, the state’s policy shaped the theology, which resulted in tacit acceptance of what was unquestionably, in reality, an un-Godly system of oppression.
What, then, is the key to hearing God for who he is? How can we avoid the idolatry – often dangerouslly destructive – that is associated with shaping God in our image and then worshiping the thing we created?
Coming up – a look at scripture as the self-revelation of God.