Alastair McCollum
Slideshow image

Our words are important, the words we choose to use about one another and our experience frame the way in which we engage with the world and assign value and meaning. But what about our language regarding God? Surely, like God, such language is unchanging, immutable, and eternal? Not so much. Even using such words provides a clue as to how we create a picture of the Divine based on Scripture, philosophy, doctrine through the years. Claiming to have words which define God is in itself a statement of faith. 

All language about the Divine is contingent, analagous, fleeting. Though many writers over many years have repeatedly used male, partriarchal images of God - and some consider these to be the only ways to talk about God - these are not the only images of the Divine even within the Scriptures, and certainly male titles such as King, Lord, Father, (male) Priest/Prophet, are a very limited part of the images used within the Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures and are deeply inadequate in even beginning to convey the fullness of the Divine revelation as given in those holy books. 

Our choice of words about God perhaps reflects more about ourselves than the Divine.  There are many pictures given to us throughout our Scriptures and some of them have become dominant because of the dominant narratives held by church and society - if we neglect certain images of God, for instance supressing the Divine Feminine found throughout the Bible, we end up with an even less adequate picture of the Divine than our limited, finite minds already have.

If the Divine is infinte, then our language about God should be expansive, expressive, and embracing many and diverse forms and ideas. Let us open our minds to the richness of God as revealed through Scripture, through reason, through the variety of spiritual traditions throughout human culture, through the world around, and in the deepest parts of our own souls.  As the TV show God Friended Me recently said "I believe God is in each smile." - there are infinite ways to express the infinte, some less helpful than others, but many neglected which give us a glimpse into the wonder of engaging with the Divine in new and transforming ways.

Isaiah 55.6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.