Is Your God too Small?

Jun 16, 2008

Once while I was browsing in a bookstore I saw a book entitled Your God is Too Small by John Bertram Phillips. I read the title, said “yes” to myself, returned the book to the shelf and never read it. Immediately I knew that the writer was correct. My God was too small. What do I know of God? I know how the Bible describes Him, the Creator, the God of the people, The Trinity, His intervention on the part of the Hebrews, the Ten Commandments, His son Jesus, the descriptions of Paul, etc. In addition I have my experience of Him. But, there is much mystery about God. Is there more mystery than what we know about Him? And His gender, what do we know about that? It is not easy to describe the totality of God. I do not think that our minds can understand all that He is. It is not possible.

How can we know Him? As an analogy, the scientists who study the universe as a whole, cosmologists, say that they understand four per cent of the universe. This 4 % includes the planets, moons, stars, comets, asteroids, galaxies and the universes, all that we know of the planet Earth with its plants and animals, including human beings. The rest—96%–they call “dark matter.” They know only that it exists, and they are beginning to lose hope that they can discover what it is. This is an astonishing admission because scientists for centuries have discovered more and more each year. Until now they were increasing their knowledge of the universe year by year.

What if 4 % is all that we know of God? It’s possible. How can we know what we can’t know? Much of our thoughts about God are projections, what our small minds can entertain. Mystery is what we call the unknown and unknowable. Sometimes we argue about the gender of God—Father or Mother? I think that the gender of God is a very small part of who He is. Here we encounter the opposites in God: the knowable and the unknowable, the personal and impersonal, the masculine and the feminine, the closeness and the distance, the God within and the God out there. Also it is part of the mystery how the Lord can be both of the opposites at the same time and how God is divided into three parts and yet is one. We have these questions with us always, often they retreat to the back of our minds only to return to be thought about again. We live these questions, we live the mystery. There are no answers that our minds can understand.

Because of this, we have God who in the end in indefinable, but even better we have our experience of God that sustains us, guides us and loves us. My mind aches when I think of what I know of God, because there is no way of resolving these questions. But when I think of my experience of Him, my heart smiles and is comforted. It is not important that there are no answers, that God is unknowable or distant, I know that God is here with me every hour of every day in order to love me and support me. That’s all I need to know! But I am thinking about reading that book, maybe I missed something. Maybe we know 5% of what God is!

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