The Trivialization of God: The Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity

Some Book Titles Just Rock Your World - Like This One!

The Trivialization of GodI am preaching (in a few days) on the question(s):

Who is God?
What is God like?
Do I have a true understanding of the true God?
How close does my image of God correspond to the Bible's teaching?

The Trivialization of God: The Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity book by Donald McCullough was published in 1995. At that time, the diminishment of God, not only in our world, but in the church was already far advanced. We were already suffering from the tragic consequences of re-making God into our own image. We had reduced  God to a generally polite, always available to help us succeed, deity. We said this is the love of God, but even that understanding was far below the rich, deep fierce love of God described in the Scriptures. McCullough had well described our serious problem.

God was redefined wihout the glorious attributes. His "excellencies" were eliminated. We no longer know, understand or experience God as awesome, majestic, magnificent, high and lifted up, glorious in his grandeur, full of supremacy and immensity, absolute and always sovereign over everything and everyone. His holiness ... his godliness itself was truncated.

To borrow from C.S. Lewis, we no longer had an Almighty Father in heaven. We were left with a somewhat senile, kindly grandfather who made no demands, had no expectations, had nothing truly awe-inspiring about him... and who seemed mainly concerned to affirm how special we were.

The True God Has Been Lost.
We knew that had happened in the world.
We saw it in the rampant and proliferating silly spiritualities of self-promotion.
But to see it happening in the church...the evangelical church...

Our God is indeed too small. What the Hulk said of Loki - "puny god," could be said of most of our images of God - puny, pathetic, and unable to save. 

How did it happen? That is a very long, deep story. David Wells tells it quite thoroughly in his books:

God in the Wasteland, David WellsNo Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology (1993)
God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (1994)
Losing Our Virtue: Why the Churh Must Recover Its Moral Vision (1998)

These are deep, serious books that onlly a few people will read. That is sad for their is a sober wisdom contained in them that illuminates the decline of modernity and which anticpates the futility of the emerging post-modernity.

Still - these ideas, stories, images, truths, texts have been filling my mind, heart and imagination as I prepare to speak carefully about the God who is to be worshipped acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Some tasks are too far above my poor capacity. This is one of them. So my prayer is that I will at least speak truthfully, and my desire is to speak very well (by God's grace) in answer to the question - Who is God? 

For without a good answer to that question - the serious problem of 1995, that is in 2014 a tragic crisis - will deteriorate to a deadly conclusion. Perhaps that is why William Butler Yeats said it this way:

William Butler YeatsTurning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org