wrong thinking? wrong belief?

This morning while listening to the radio, I heard these words from a former US Army Staff Sergeant who fought in Fallujah.

“I couldn’t understand a Judeo-Christian God, that, uh, I was always told was graceful and all-forgiving and loving, to exist in a environment that was, just so, haneous and horrible so, I… I decided that, you know, I knew that, that God was still out there, I’m still a believer, but, you know, I figured if, uh, if he could handle this, he would’ve, and, he’s got me here for a reason, so, let’s just close the New Testament and do the job that we have to do…”

Just before this the interviewer had remarked about his Christian upbringing, etc. That comment sparked the words he spoke…

read them again…

“I couldn’t understand a Judeo-Christian God, that, uh, I was always told was graceful and all-forgiving and loving, to exist in a environment that was, just so, haneous and horrible so, I… I decided that, you know, I knew that, that God was still out there, I’m still a believer, but, you know, I figured if, uh, if he could handle this, he would’ve, and, he’s got me here for a reason, so, let’s just close the New Testament and do the job that we have to do…” (BBC-The Interview 29 Sept. 2007)

I was taken aback by these words because they are, in my mind, quintessential to the way SO MANY people box God up in their cultural thinking, or worse yet, in what they learn about God in SO MANY churches in America (and elsewhere too, I guess, but I am into American church bashing, you know). So many people have God enveloped in this package of their own construction so that when they are faced with stuff that is outside that envelope, they are just at a loss for what to do with God. So, what they do is what Sgt. Bellavia did: “…I decided that, you know, I knew that, that God was still out there, I’m still a believer, but, you know, I figured if, uh, if he could handle this, he would’ve, and, he’s got me here for a reason, so, let’s just close the New Testament and do the job that we have to do…”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not disrespecting the soldier or his service. Heck, I used to believe in this war. And I get where this guy is coming from. I (kinda) don’t fault him. He is operating on what he knows and believes (what he was taught or what he ‘caught’). But as I look at his words (that were broadcast around the world on the BBC), I see that he has been let down by the church. The church did not give him an adequate understanding of God. He was taught to believe in a little box shaped God that he can put in his pocket and then do what he felt was best. American Christianity: ain’t it great?

Miroslav Volf said in Free of Charge, “Our Hearts become factories of idols in which we fashion and refashion God to fit our needs and desires.
Yet the most powerful and seductive images of God are not the ones we craft in the privacy of our hearts. They are the ones that seep into our minds as we watch TV, read books, go shopping at the mall, or socialize with our neighbors. Slowly and imperceptibly, the one true God begins acquiring the features of the gods of this world.” (Volf, p. 22)

Followers of Jesus are charged with knowing God personally and relationally through Jesus’ work on the cross and the Spirit’s work in us. But there must be a true biblical knowledge of GOD, not just our view of God that has been tainted by this or that writer or teachcer, and surely not from TV and the movies, and no, not from the BBC either. This is our calling: to read and know the inspired Word of God as the Spirit of God teaches us, and to continually build our relationship with God to serve and honor Him, biblically… thoughtfully.

Capturing, as Paul said, every thought for Christ.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “wrong thinking? wrong belief?

  1. Laci and Keri Németh

    But Tom isn’t it great to “figure out GOD???”

    as I say about the whole Calvinist-Arminianist battle… “If you figured out GOD he is not GOD anymore he is an imagination… You ain’t gonna put GOD on a leash…”

    Rather just stick with the “I don’t, HE is BIG I am small” HE is THE CREATOR, I am created…

    Lazo who’s GOD is way bigger then his mind, or pride…

  2. revtom

    You are exactly right vonLazo, but the problem is that people build world views around this “god on a leash” through ignorance and then the real God becomes meaningless to thier lives and decisions. Humans can’t help but to think. Thus they must be intentional about knowing God or thier thinking will be wrong and they will have a little box shaped God who they can put away whenever they wish… that is NOT our God.

  3. Laci and Keri Németh

    AMEN

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