Quote for the Day

My own experience in a variety of contexts suggests that the number one problem, the most common source of resistance to both evangelization and spiritual growth in Christian terms, is the angry, punishing father-god of patriarchal oppression. It is something of a mystery to me that this God concept, so foreign to the actual contents of the gospel and Jesus’ picture of his Abba, should be assumed by so many to be what in fact Christianity offers, and the degree to which it remains embedded in Christian literature and art. Furthermore, I find this problematic image deeply infecting all “brands” of Christianity, from the most anti-ecclesial charismatic/evangelical to Catholic to liberal. I do not mean they all deliberately teach it, but rather that all are somehow infected by it, one way or another, indeed have embraced it, even in rejection of it. Many have abandoned or rejected Christianity because their affective and intellectual development has rendered this notion of God intolerable, and they do not know and indeed often cannot imagine that Christianity has something else to offer. Intellectual conversion will mean, as Shug says to Celie in The Color Purple, first, you gotta get that angry old white man out of your head. It will then mean finding truer images of God in the tradition itself. For most of us this will obviously also include some psychological sorting out of our own family/childhood issues.

— Robert Davis Hughes III, Beloved Dust:
Tides of the Spirit in the Christian Life

  • Serge L

    This picture of “the angry, punishing father-god of patriarchal oppression” have some roots in the Old testament. Monistic theology of Judaism proclaims God the source of everything – of good and of evil with satan being just a servant of God. The most terrible picture of such god is in the prologue of the book of Job – god “the chessplayer”.
    Jesus brings some new interpretations of the Jewish tradition – His teaching looks almost dualistic in terms of two struggling powers – of God and of “the prince of this world”. As theologians explained later evil is lack of good so it’s not dualism. They also offered symbolic interpretation of the Old testament. But given the lack of carma concept in Judaism and Christian orthodoxy god “the eastern tyrant” is stil here. He is covered by the waters of gospel as iceberg in ocean waiting for unwary sailors.

  • judith collier

    If there is no humility “evil” is unforgivable and the belief that this evil is sent from God FOR punishment is assumed, then the spiral is downward into bitterness, hate, war mongoring, etc. However, if God did, in fact, CREATE this evil originally and NOT for punishment and there IS humility, at least “evil” will get another look. What purpose does it play? Could it just be, what we as children of God, made in the image of God, do with it, overcome, get stronger, learn, teach against, chastise, help, love better, uphold, and a million other things. Just thinking, Judy

  • http://www.backtolifeagain.typepad.com Jennifer

    Thank you so much for this – from one looking for truer images of God.

  • http://www.centeringprayerdk.blogspot.com pglynn

    I found “The Shack” by William P. Young to be a good antidote to the image of God as an angry, punishing patriarch. Young helps us to visualize God as someone who loves us like we love our own children.


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