a changing God

In response to a comment, “There’s no such thing as a progressive Christian. If we love God, He will transform us into His own image. God doesn’t change, why would His children?” Bronwyn Angela White recalls various books and readings showing the infinite variety of God:

If you read the Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament writings, you’ll find “God” changes all the time. There are many different names for God, and different descriptions of God. Abraham, for example, moved to the land of Canaan, and adopted the local God, rather than the traditional God of his people. In the story of Ruth and Naomi, the daughters in law go with Ruth to a new land, and Naomi says, “your people will be my people, and your god will be my god”—so when you read the Bible, you find there are many Gods as well as many aspects of what people understood God to be.

The 10 Commandments don’t begin with, “There are no other Gods”; rather, “Because you are my people, you won’t put any of the other Gods before me”. Some writers suggest that God changed when he became a Parent. References to God in the gospels refer to a loving father rather than an angry, destructive God.

The God who sees the sparrow fall and knows the number of hairs on your head is surely not the same as the jealous God who destroyed the prophets of Baal, or the disappointed God who flooded the earth and saved only the incestuous Noah and his immediate family (read the whole story, not just the bit about the ark). In the first chapters of Genesis, the Jewish Creation stories are told in two very different ways, indicating different understandings of God.

Christians who describe themselves as “progressive” mean, among other things, that we’re open to new ways of reading the scripture and we try to understand the peoples of the times of writing, as well as seeing the image of God in every human being.

God: A Biography – Jack Miles

A History Of God – Karen Armstrong

Why does God exist? How have the three dominant monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—shaped and altered the conception of God? How have these religions influenced each other? In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain’s foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present.

The epic story begins with the Jews’ gradual transformation of pagan idol worship in Babylon into true monotheism—a concept previously unknown in the world. Christianity and Islam both rose on the foundation of this revolutionary idea, but these religions refashioned ‘the One God’ to suit the social and political needs of their followers. From classical philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, Karen Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one superbly readable volume, destined to take its place as a classic.

Faith of Aboriginal Custodians After Following the Abraham Trail – Norman Habel

Abraham and Sarah did not arrive in Canaan with an assertion of settler sovereignty. They were immigrants who lived peaceably among the Canaanites and respected an Indigenous name for God. If communities of faith follow Abraham’s trail today, it leads to new covenants and treaties.

In the light of the Abraham precedent and subsequent colonial history, it is time to go beyond making another apology and make a formal acknowledgement that leads to a genuine treaty process. In this book, one of Australia’s most distinguished elders in the field of biblical studies takes us back to the beginnings of the biblical narrative, and asks us to look again.

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