We cannot just make stuff up about God and cannot claim to know God just because we or our denomination have ‘a perspective’ on Him. As some wit observed, fundamentalists habitually quote their partisan bits of scripture - all the while having little familiarity with their un-read word of God.* They can have the most warped views of God having reduced God to words, and positions that portend to describe Him. But The Living Word is not ‘words’ and a real relationship with God is not words but a state of belonging.
IT’S ABOUT BEING ONE WITH GOD
We should not use the words of God as if they are God.
Someone once described a fundamentalist sect as a cult. The defender against the charge looked up a definition of a cult and utilised it in her argument – the contention that the sect of which she was a member was not a cult. The fact was, however, that this sect was more like a cult than not like a cult, which was unfortunate for the strength of her defence.
WORDS MAY NOT CUT IT
If we are forced to rely on a definition, then maybe we have lost the argument already, since what an entity is depends on the nature of its being and not on a definition.
THE HOW OF OUR ONENESS
God’s being is three in one, which is relevant to us in that this has determined the nature of our creation as sons and daughters and the nature of our redemption as sons and daughters. The relationship that is ours in God is the relationship that is the trinitarian God. Perichoresis - the oneness that is theirs in communion is a oneness that enhances and does not detract from who they are as persons.
PART OF THE WHOLE YET FULLY YOU
The nature of the fall and its separation is dualism because the fall is separation from God. Salvation is at-one-ment which is union with God. The incarnated life is the gospel of the Kingdom.
This is the oneness that is ours when we are lost and hidden in Christ in order that who we are is found. It may be seen that we have an identity in Christ in our belonging in the Holy Family that is beyond us if we are contained in the law – a fabric of abstraction resulting in separation.
The oneness of God has reached out to draw our fractured lives into the oneness of Himself, the culmination of which is, ‘At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth’ Eph 1.10.
Thomas Torrance writes, “It was a fundamental principle of Calvin which he adopted from the teaching of Irenaeus and Hilary that since God alone knows himself, he may not be known by us except through himself and his own self-witness or testimony.” (1)
God is revealed to us through Himself in Jesus Christ and not through religion or the law. God reveals Himself in many ways through the elements of life, the wonder of living and in our pain. He can reveal Himself through people but God does it best through those alive in Christ their life. Old covenant life cripples anyone’s witness and makes us incompetent to model the Kingdom Jesus began.
ALIENATED FROM GOD AND YOU
One of the costs of legalism is an absence of emotional intelligence that occurs from the dehumanisation wrought by the law.
God is personal, person and never the kind of abstraction that is god defined in the terms of the knowledge of good and evil (the law). God defines Himself as Himself and draws us into His Fellowship in accordance with Himself, so that we may be sons of God in spirit and in truth.
* It’s curious that so many utilise the Bible as a modern day ‘law’, reading bits of the new testament and attempting to live what they read, when this is contrary to the witness of these scripture which declare Christ come in our flesh and that Christ Himself is our life. There’s nothing legalistic about the new testament yet this is how it is mostly appled.
(1) Torrance, Thomas F.. The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 11). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.