Is God a Christian?
One thinks of a relativist wife who says, "Yes, I married John, but he's just another man, and all men are the same, so it didn't really matter who I chose." In contrast, one thinks of an absolutist husband who says, "I married Jane, which means that I consider all other women to be ugly, stupid, and abhorrent." But Godsey's idea of covenant commitment allows one to say, "I have given my heart to my spouse, and I love my spouse as I love no other person. I assume you have the same kind of devotion to the subject of your love."
"Moving beyond the alternatives of relativism and absolutism," Godsey says, "enables us to meet one another with a new spirit, respecting the diverse covenantal commitments that define our lives. Our commitments differ. Those differences are authentic and real. Respecting another person's commitment does not mean adopting another person's commitment." That understanding doesn't prohibit evangelism: instead, it expects a lover to be irrepressible in speaking of the beloved. But it moves evangelism away from insult and attack on the other.
Reflecting on Godsey's heartfelt, intelligent, and articulate proposal, I wondered whether the problem with the statement "God is a Christian" may not be that it claims too much but rather that it claims too little. In the incarnation, we Christians are not inspired to see merely God's solidarity with one religion—any more than we see in it God's solidarity with one gender, one nationality, one economic class, or one race. No: in the incarnation, we see God's solidarity with all people—of all religions. In fidelity to our own Christian covenant commitment, so should we.
Commitment beyond absolutism and mutual respect beyond relativism. Difference without division. Acceptance and respect without blurring differences. This is the complex challenge of faithful one-anotherness, an art that is new for many of us...new and desperately needed as we look back on the last ten years and look ahead to the next.
For more conversation on Kirby Godsey's Is God a Christian? visit the Patheos Book Club here.
Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is an ecumenical global networker among innovative Christian leaders. Among McLaren's more prominent writings are A New Kind of Christian (2001), A Generous Orthodoxy (2006), Everything Must Change (2009), and A New Kind of Christianity (2010). His lastest book, Naked Spirituality, offers "simple, doable, and durable" practices to help people deepen their life with God.