Saturday, 28 November 2015

Confessions of a Polytheistic Christian

Are we, Christians included, somewhat polytheistic? That is, do we believe in more than one god? Probably not officially, but our actions sometimes seem to say otherwise. Now if you're still here and I haven't rattled you completely yet, causing you to think I've lost my mind or am treading ever closer to heresy, Rethinking Faith and Church welcomes back guest blogger Waldo Rochow to share a few thoughts on this subject.

Accepting the Wikipedia definition of theology as “the systematic and rational study of concepts of God and of the nature of religious ideas...” I’d like to discuss the concept of God with you. (Caveat: I am a layman with no seminary training at all. However, this is a message that was on my heart when I awoke today.) It seems to me that there are three distinct aspects of the God concept that are often confused when people use the word. Regardless if someone is an atheist, a monotheist, or a polytheist, these three aspects of the God concept are relevant.  There is God the Creator, God the Sustainer, and God the Judge.

God the Creator is a pretty easy one to wrap your head around. Was creation some fluke, or was it designed? People are usually pretty polar on this point.

God the Judge is also a pretty easy concept to discuss. You either believe that your actions/decisions while you live have consequences after you die, or you don’t. Again, people usually have a pretty well defined perspective on this which drives their morality.

God the Sustainer is one where most Christians (myself included) have the most trouble. Mike Warnke said “Whatever you turn to in your hour of need is your god.” He went on to describe what eventually led to my understanding of God the Sustainer. If you need coffee to face your day, then at that point, coffee is your god. If you can’t handle stress without cigarettes, then cigarettes have become your god. For some, shopping therapy shows that money is their god. Same applies to alcohol, drugs, sex, and many other sustainers. Even things that may otherwise seem quite positive, such as exercise, can be seen as a god if they are used as a coping mechanism.

Sadly, in my life I have had many gods. While always professing to be Christian, I have often abandoned the Father for a man-made god. Less so now. I am confident that I am making progress toward relegating these gods to the mere role of participant. But as I work through this journey in my own life it occurs to me that many people may not have considered theology from this perspective.
“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” - Exodus 20:5 (NIV)
Do you struggle with an addiction? Perhaps the solution is to view it in the light of God the Sustainer. As long as you are praying to the Father for help, but actively surrendering to another god, why would God the Father intervene? I’m not suggesting that one must quit the addiction before God the Father will intervene. What I am suggesting is that one must acknowledge that this addiction is akin to worshiping another god, and humbly repent of it in one’s prayer for support. The same is true of financial struggles. I don’t subscribe to the prosperity doctrine, but worry over finances is the same as placing oneself in the position of God the Sustainer. How’s that working out for you?

I don’t think that God is satisfied with us only accepting His divine roles of Creator and Judge. He wants us to rely on Him as Sustainer as well. He wants to be our entire God, not just two thirds of it.

I am working towards a place where I can honestly say that I am entirely dependant on the grace of God. Not just God the Creator, because that’s the past. Not just God the Judge, because that’s the future. But also, God the Sustainer, because that’s the now.

May God bless you in your personal journey.

Photo Credit: Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam
Guest Blogger: Waldo Rochow

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