The late Christopher Hitchens, author of the book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything . . . said in an interview: “I think it would be rather awful if it was true, if there was a permanent, total, round-the-clock divine supervision and invigilation of everything you did. You’d never have a waking or sleeping moment when you weren’t being watched or controlled and supervised by some celestial entity from the moment of your conception to the moment of your death. It would be like living in North Korea.”
Mr. Hitchens presents a good case! However, it is most helpful to note how he describes the deity in whom he does not believe: an all controlling Divine Despot who is keeping tabs on everyone—the Heavenly Policeman.
To be honest, I find myself in hearty agreement with Hitchens on this point because, quite frankly, I don’t believe in that god either. Who would want to be a worshipper of such a god?
Such a deity, in fact, does not exist.
The God revealed in Christ shows Himself to be not a self- centered dictator but an other-centered fountain of goodness. He is not a tyrant, but a Triune community of love.
And that makes all the difference.
J. O. Schulz, What Jesus Wished People Knew About God
If God were as many perceive him to be, we would do well to reject him. A celestial caesar who is harsh, implacable, demanding, easily annoyed, fussy, vindictive, overbearing, and unforgiving is not worthy of worship. To those who turn away from such a deity, I would say, “You’re absolutely right. I can’t bring myself to believe in that God either.”
If, however, God were as compassionate, humble, kind, genuine, irreproachable, and furiously good as Jesus—that changes everything! We have never seen anyone as irresistibly wonderful as Jesus, and if God were like him—that would be the best news ever broken on planet Earth! Before a Christ-like God we would gladly bow, amazed and entranced.
The Christian message affirms that Jesus came not only to redeem but to reveal the true nature of God. Christ declared that if we have seen him, we have seen the Father. And what we see when we take a close look takes our breath away.
There’s a story that Jesus told that distils the key features of his vision of God into one concise parable. Christ’s narrative brings to light the unspeakable goodness of God’s heart. The story is loaded with spiritual dynamite that blows away the falsehoods that many have believed about God.
There is so much to be learned about God from the Parable of the Prodigal Son that I ended up writing an entire book on it. If people are to know God as He truly is, Jesus’ story is a fabulous place to start.
If you dare to let Jesus overhaul your view of God, you might want to check out the book, WHAT JESUS WISHED PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT GOD. You can find it on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, etc.
In the LGBT community, the opposite of pride is self-hatred. But in the Bible, the opposite of pride is faith. Was pride keeping me from faith, or was pride keeping me from self-hatred? That was when the question inserted itself like a foot in the door: Did pride distort self-esteem the way lust distorts love? This was the first of my many betrayals against the LGBT community: whose dictionary did I trust? The one used by the community that I helped create or the one that reflected the God who created me? As soon as the question formed itself into words, I felt convicted of the sin of pride. Pride was my downfall. I asked God for the mercy to repent of my pride at its root. . . .
My conversion left my former friends and family thinking I was loony to the core. How could I leave a worldview that was open, welcoming, and inclusive for one that believes in Original Sin, values the law of God, seeks conversion into a born-again constitution, believes in the truthful ontology of God’s Word as found in the Bible, claims the exclusivity of Christ for salvation, and purports the redemptive quality of suffering? Only one reason: because Jesus is a real and risen Lord and because he claimed me for himself.
―Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ
For the moment, let’s leave Jesus or Christianity out of the picture. What if you tried to just believe in God in general? What if you just tried to live a good life and pray to him? How would you get into a relationship with a God like that? Wouldn’t that be exploitation? God wouldn’t change—you would have to do all the submitting, all the repenting, make all the sacrifices.
But Christianity is different. Jesus Christ lost his glory and became mortal and died for us. In Jesus God says, “I will adjust to you. I will sacrifice for you. First I will give up my glory and immortality in becoming human in the Incarnation. Then I will give up all light and joy and my very life in the Atonement.”
He was nailed fast to the cross so he could not move. How is that for giving up your freedom? Christianity is the only religion that claims God gave up his freedom so we could experience the ultimate freedom—from evil and death itself. Therefore, you can trust him. He sacrificed his independence for you, so you can sacrifice yours for him. And when you do, you will find that it is the ultimate, infinitely liberating constraint. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
–Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical
In that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay, (the matter grows too difficult for human speech,) but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.
Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ. –Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
Our lines of inquiry, our probing, and questioning, may perhaps lead us in the direction where God might be found, but they cannot break through and claim to have grasped God all by themselves. Just as no spaceship could ever fly far enough to glimpse God, since (if such a being exists, and if he is remotely like the great monotheistic religions have supposed) he isn’t an object within our universe, likewise no human argument could ever, as it were, get God into a corner, pin him down, and force him to submit to human inspection.
It is part of the Christian story that there was a moment when God was indeed pinned down, subjected not just to human inspection but to trial, torture, imprisonment, and death…