the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Is Your God Too Small?

In simplistic terms, Science is the disciplined study of God's creation. The more we learn about His creation, the more we learn about Him. There are two paths to Truth. One path certainly is Faith. The other, equally valid, path is Science. There is only one Truth. The Truth of Faith and the Truth of Science are, in fact, the same Truth. They seem different to us at times beause of the knowledge gap between where Faith and Science take us.
A simplistic analogy for this dichotomy in the serarch for truth is the building of the Tunnel under the English Channel, England started from its side of the channel and France started from its side. For a long time, the engineers lived in hope and fear that the two tunnels would meet in exactly the same spot. They did, but until they did they could only hope and fear. At this point I would offer a scripture reference, again from Paul: I Corinthians 13:11-12.
NRS 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Protestant Evangelical Fundamentalists believe that God's revelation of Himself stopped at the close of the New Testament. A study of History clearly contradicts that belief.
Each time there has been a new discovery about the creation, it seems to contradict a teaching of the Bible or Doctrine of the Church. The Church and Society have struggled through their growing pains. First comes denial and punishment of the heretics. They have been forced either to recant their discoveries or pay the ultimate of price of letting God be their judge in Heaven. But always the Theologians and Churchmen have been able to rethink the teachings of the Bible and the Doctrines so that the understanding of God continues to evolve.
Of course the classic example is Copernicus, and Galileo after him. The discovery that the earth revolved around the sun and was not the center of the universe clearly upset the Church Fathers. But now even the most radical fundamentalist would admit that Copernicus was right. The Scientific heresy dejur is Darwin. Or perhaps it is the Big Bang. Or are they the same thing? Those who refuse to accept new ideas and discoveries spend a lot of energy denying their validity.
What drives the passions of the radical right that refuses to accept any change in the ancient world view? Remember the analogy of the tunnels? What were the engineers doing before the two ends of the tunnel converged? They lived in hope and fear. Hope that they would meet at the designated spot. And fear that they would not.
Forty years ago, J. B. Phillips wrote a book entitled Your God Is Too Small. In this book he talks about people whose concept of God is so small that He must be bound by rigid human definitions. At the conclusion of the 2000 SBC convention, the newly elected president stated very emphatically that "God could not go against His word." In other words, God is seen as being, not the Omnipontent, not the Omniscient, and not the Omnipresent One. He is seen as being only what a human mind can comprehend.
God is bigger than the SBC. God is bigger than Evangelicalism. God is bigger than Protestantism. God is bigger than Christianity. God is bigger than Humankind.
Speaking the word of the Lord, Isaiah wrote

NRS Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Mankind can never understand above the limits of the human brain. But God did give us the gift of inquiry and the gift of reason. As the databank of knowledge grows, we are able to understand more and more of what God's creation is all about. And, therefore, more and more of what He is about. We know more about creation now than the writers of the first book of Genesis. We even know more about God now than the leaders of the inquisition. I cannot even imagine what 500 years of discovery will bring in the future. We will never fully understand God. But by the grace of God we will be closer to Him then than we are now or ever have been.


Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Thank you for a thoughtful and intelligent essay. I had a minister who once said, "It's the job of science to tell us when and how, but it's faith that tells us who and why."

8/09/2005 11:16 PM  

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