our thoughts about God and God

our thoughts about god and god cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Our Thoughts About God and God” by nakedpastor David Hayward

Our thoughts about God are just that: thoughts about God. They are not God. They approximate God. This includes the thoughts, now written, of the biblical writers and all theologians since. All their thoughts and all their writings are not God, but approximations of God.

This should not depress us. This should give us great joy that, if there is a God, this God should be greater than all we can imagine or articulate. If there is a God, then we should rejoice if this God’s ways and thoughts were not our ways and thoughts, but far greater and even beyond finding out! If there is a God, if we even came close to seeing this God, shouldn’t we all fall down as dead because it blows our minds?

My favorite Eastern philosopher, Krishnamurti, once said,

“Now, what is reality, what is God? God is not the word, the word is not the thing.”

The interesting thing about Krishnamurti is that he is very serious when he wrote and spoke publicly. However, when people visited him and he was just going about his day, he was full of humor, continuously telling jokes, smiling, laughing and enjoying life. His journals reveal a happy man.

Why is everyone so serious? Christian theology should make us happy… happy to think about and happy to write and happy to talk about.

Karl Barth said,

“The theologian who labors without joy is not a theologian at all. Sulky faces, morose thoughts and boring ways of speaking are intolerable in this field.”

G.K. Chesterton wrote,

“Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly… Satan fell by the force of gravity.”

In fact, Chesterton wondered if the great secret of God concealed in Christ… something that was simply too great to show us… was his joy.

Let’s lighten up and enjoy the game on this field we call theology.

I know some people who are generally happy to talk about their beliefs and hang out together at The Lasting Supper. I invite you to the table.

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  • Where can I find this reflection from Chesterton about joy?

  • David Hayward

    in his book “Orthodoxy”

  • @ David,

    I like how you were careful to say “… if there is a God …”

    But if there isn’t a god, then what you said is still true perhaps:

    Our thoughts are only an approximation, even of a non-existent god.
    These approximating-god-thoughts may be totally wrong about an intervening deity (miracles and such) and about afterlife hopes, but they could still be fair approximations to understand how a believer may stay happy, be kind to others or even how to use their religion to rule over others.

    You say that “Christian theology ‘should’ make us happy” but I don’t think that is why most people embrace it — happiness is not a prime motivation for most people, but security, safety, identity, power and other things that take far priority over happiness.

    So for those folks, their Christian theology is doing exactly what they think it should do.

    And didn’t even Paul (maybe one gospel writer too) say that accurate Christian theology could bring suffering and only joy in knowing it will all be set straight in heaven.

  • klhayes

    When I first saw the image which I see before your writing, I thought “Maybe David is saying that our thoughts create a distant God but God is right there…likely laughing at us.”
    But I see what you are saying. We spend so much time trying to categorize God but God is beyond our human limitations…that is the mystery and the awe of God.

  • Jerry Lynch

    “The God above God.”
    Ineffable, as some assert, or “…clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…”? “God has made it plain to them.”
    I am reminded of a line from a book I read many years ago: “We are forever strangers and alone.” We don’t really know even the people in our own lives, those close or at the fringes: how can we be expected to know God?
    My intimacy with God, my coming to know him, is about the love I freely share with others. My intimacy with God, my coming to know him, is being compassionate and forgiving with all that I meet. My intimacy with God, coming to know him, is being true to my word and responsible for the lost and needy. My intmacy with God, my coming to kknow him, is being as a little child in joy and obedience. Knowing God is the unearthing and manifestation of his image and likeness within me; it is not about knowledge but being.

  • Thanks!

  • Wonderful cartoon and commentary, David.

    “Why is everyone so serious? Christian theology should make us happy…
    happy to think about and happy to write and happy to talk about.”

    Why, indeed?

  • Adam Julians

    I have to say – I enjoy theological reflection. And happy to engage with scripture, wiht God with others about it.

    It;s a broad statement to say “everyone” is serious. Not everyone is and I would suggest the same thing to someone who is morose about it as I would to someone who says they don’t enjoy sex. There is something they are doing that is wrong lol.