Saturday, February 16, 2008

God A and God B - Brian D. McLaren

From Brian D. McLaren's book A Generous Orthodoxy. I tried to shorten it, but it lost its power, so here is the section in its entirety, followed by my comments. Italics are his emphasis, bolds are mine.

"The experience of God in Jesus was so powerful that it forever transformed what followers of Jesus meant when they said the word God. What was God like? What was God about? When they thought about what they had learned, seen, and experienced in a few centuries of reflecting on God as revealed and experienced through Jesus (in the context of some major controversies with varied forms of Greek philosophy), the church began to describe God as Father-Son-Spirit in Tri-unity or the Trinity. For them, God could no longer be conceived of merely as "God A," a single, solitary, dominant Power, Mind, or Will, but as "God B," a unified, eternal mysterious, relational community/family/society/entity of saving Love.

"Think of the kind of universe you would expect if God A created it: a universe of dominance, control, limitation, submission, uniformity, coercion. [footnote: Most forms of Islam and certain forms of Christianity reflect belief in this kind of God--"God A"--and this kind of universe.] Think of the kind of universe you would expect if God B created it: a universe of interdependence, relationship, possibility, responsibility, becoming, novelty, mutuality, freedom. I'm not sure which comes first--the kind of universe you see or the kind of God you believe in, but as a Christian who believes in Jesus as the Son of God, I find myself in universe B, getting to know God B.

This is why, for starters, I am a Christian: the image of God conveyed by Jesus as the Son of God, and the image of the universe that resonates with this image of God best fit my deepest experience, best resonate with my deepest intuition, best inspire my deepest hope, and best challenge me to live with what my friend, the late Mike Yaconelli, called "dangerous wonder," which is the starting point for a generous orthodoxy."

~Brian McLaren,
A Generous Orthodoxy, Chapter 2: Jesus and God B, pages 76-77.

The God that Jesus revealed, God B, doesn't inspire subservience and control, but rather faith, hope, and love. And the Japanese people could do with a little bit of all three. As we seek to reveal God in the country of Japan, what can we do to reveal God B, when we naturally tend to think of God A? How can we capture the hope and imagination of this people and center them on the One who can make them flourish?

EDIT: I posted this on Facebook also, and my friend brought up a really good question that is worth reposting here. She said, "But... isn't God both (all) at once?" The answer? Of course! And it is just as dangerous to hold exclusively to "B" as it leads to a view of a God of chaos (defined here as the absence of order, rather than the disruption of it), which is a tenant of Shinto, Daoism, and some forms of Animism. So let me requote one sentence with a different emphasis: "God could no longer be conceived of MERELY as 'God A'..." Since we are writing to Westerners though, I think the side of God most often ignored is the "B" side.

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