Chapter from my video series “From Below to Above”
When you watch the average talk-show on TV you realize rather quickly that everyone entertains a different opinion that is usually voiced vociferously. There are so many opinions that you can’t see the forest or the trees. You consider turning off your TV. The same thing, however, happens when people talk about God.
There are so many different views of God dat many people don’t even bother making a beginning of a search for the existence of God. They develop an attitude that says: Well, as long as it doesn’t touch my existence, we’ll see what comes of God’s. In doing so, they neglect speaking about God. They turn off the tuner that scans existence for the meaning of life. Can we still speak about God in today’s world? A world in which God’s existence is doubted, denied, or ignored? We seem to live in a society that is doing better without God than it ever did with God. Speaking about God . . . that is speaking about God who is above, as one who is down here, below, among people who are below. But there are so may people here down below who seem to know what God has to say, who God is, what God thinks and wants. So many voices that contradict each other and cancel each other out. Wouldn’t it perhaps be better to become silent? Maybe it is time for silence about God; time to just do what we have to do. In this series we will talk about God. Thinking and talking about God is possible and necessary. Possible because God has spoken—God has come from above to below—and necessesary because the meaning of our existence is wrapped up with God’s. Perhaps it is possible to depart from the things that we know here below to move to the things that are above, God’s things, so to speak. Perhaps arguments can be found this way that aid us in the discussion and confusion about God; arguments that help to create clarity in the cacaphony of opinions and claims about God. At the same time speaking about God is dangerous. It is almost self-evident that all these different versions about God cannot be all true at the same time in the same way. Maybe one of these opnions, maybe none, but not all simultaneously, since they contradict each other. Many opinions about God have started here below; they have been invented by people often with the best intentions. They are not revelation from God, i.e. God’s speaking from above, but human fantasy. Besides, what or who is God but a hidden reality? Proving God’s existence, for instance is quite futile. One would first have to come up with a definition of God apart from God and then discover something that corresponds to this human definition. From here below it is not really possible to get a clear view of what is above. In the end God will have to communicate from above. The initiative will have to start with God. Thus, while we attempt a move from below to above, something will have to come from above. But Christians believe that is exactly what happened. The truth of God is freely available in the encounter with the man Jesus Christ. There is another reason why speaking of God is dangerous. Many people do not want to think about God because of the personal implications this may have. That’s why they often come up with their own story about God with their own version of God; a God who is no longer confrontational or dangerous. However, if God exists, our attempt should not be to discover, prove or argue that existence, but wonder who God is and how we may meet God. We want to think and talk about God along these lines in this series without shying away from the consequences. These consequences can turn your life upside down, because God will always be different from our definition and never correspond to our desired picture. The otherness of God may surprise and transform us in the process of encounter.