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A God Worth Having

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Half a century ago, the great Christian theologian, Paul Tillich, conceived of faith as one.

How does one go about deciding this issue?  Those of us brought up in a specific religious tradition will be inclined to believe that the God of our religion is the true God.  Or perhaps we will have a falling out with our religion and want to think about the Ultimate in some other terms, which seem to us to represent a higher truth and more ultimate God than that of the religion we have departed.  But how do we make such decisions?  This is not something that is simply a matter of fact, such that if one just gets enough facts one will be able to be certain about what is Ultimate.  In addition to facts, there is also the question of value, which brings us to the title of this blog: “A God Worth Having”.

Under this title it is my intention to explore what it is that makes for a God worth having at this particular moment of history, when religion is everywhere in the news, often in the most degraded forms. In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, the literary critic, James Wood, wrote about the nastiness of Pat Robertson’s comments about the earthquake in Haiti as the punishment of God being visited on the Haitians. Wood then went on to say that there was an aspect of this sort of insanity in a comment made by President Obama to the effect that “but for the grace of God” such a disaster could happen to any of us, suggesting that God is allowing the disaster for some and gracing others with safety and prosperity. Wood, a recovering evangelical, goes on to suggest that if God isn’t involved in making disasters or sparing us from them, then God is so absent as not to be worth having. Which may be true for him, but if so, I would say that he needs to think a little more about what sort of God is worth having, because there seem to me to be some buried assumptions in his reasoning that are not worth having.

Emanuel Lutheran Church is a congregation where people in the Lutheran tradition of Christianity come together to come to grips with the question of, “What is a God worth having?” This question is alive in our worship and in our Christian education and in our ministry to one another and in the larger community. We are a people seeking to know what godliness is in the second decade of the twenty-first century on planet Earth, searching amid all the competing voices that are calling for recognition in contemporary life as the word of God.

This blog will appear regularly on this website as a kind of provocation for readers and writer to think about what it means in our contemporary cultural environment to think about God, and what image of God is worthy of our devotion. The blog is not at this time interactive, other than as an occasion to reflect upon this question. Beyond this, the blog is a window into the kind of inquiries that occupy many members of Emanuel.

Blessings in your quest,

Jeffrey C. Eaton, Pastor