A new issue of MacLean’s magazine in Canada asks the question, “Is God Poison?”
In an age of terror, war and faith-based horror heroics, it’s a reasonable question for the atheists and agnostics to ask.
While I would have a more complex response than what I would post in these few moments, I would pose a few questions:
What if the God who is worshiped has centered His self-revealing on love, forgiveness, healing, restoration and the proliferation of goodness among humankind? What if believers in that kind of God led the theistic way in the world? What would the world look like as a result of such a faith?
What if the the God represented in much of faith expression is actually misrepresented? What if the god of “-isms” is actually a god of human beings’ own making?
What if self-sacrifice and self-offering love is still most attainable by those with faith that encourages such love, and promotes the possibility that another life exists beyond today?
What if hope is not based on fear, but rather on a reality to come? What if the “fearless” are actually not seeing something?
What if the mysteries of the universe are actually best explained by the best of our most recent discoveries – i.e. that an intelligent design is behind the fabric of matter, space and time?
What if human beings are more to blame for their constructs of God than God is to blame?
What if we actually read human history in such a way as to actually believe that human beings have something beautiful they could be, and yet they tend to act selfishly and as if something is “wrong in the human system?”
What if God is not the problem, but actually a beautiful answer and begging question in our ongoing discoveries – and human beings and their subcultural interpretations are both a beautiful answer and a problem as well?
What if the shining gifts of innocence, as seen in an infant, joy, as seen in celebration, friendship, as seen in community, sharing, as seen in family, and goodness, as seen in the best expressions of faith – are actually spurred on and furthered by faith? To be good is one thing – to be tenaciously good is another.
What if the complexity of the universe, and the human being, demands a philosophy of divine activity that confounds some of the best philosophy of scientific atheism or naturalism? There is so much yet that human beings do not know – though often the language of science declares that because it “could be known with our best principles today” we do not need divine explanations. (Richard Hawking’s The Universe In A Nutshell intimates this idea). (see The Language Of God by Francis S. Collins).
I believe that God is Healing Balm, not Poison. I believe that toxic ideas within faith exist in many places in the world, including but not limited to, even professing followers of Jesus today. However, broken people embracing a perfect God interpret through the fragility of their own state of mental affairs – our distortions do not mean that God is an evil concept, or worse yet, an evil Person.
For the Church to actually be like Jesus and to do what he did, rather than our organized versions thereof; this would be revolutionary. However, it would not change every mind. The way of love would still look dark and hideous to eyes that choose to see it as such.
God must always, it seems, open our eyes to see beyond our own version of reality.