Forgiving God

God’s Merciful Culpability

God forgives us. We must forgive God for the pains of death that fill our lives, our world, all of our reality. 

        I think most of us come to the place where we question God for not being more present, more helpful, and feel resentment toward God for not relieving some of the horrendous suffering that plagues history, humanity, our lives. Rather than learning to forgive God, theologians have spent vast amounts of energy on justifying God for the pain, hurt, and evil in the world. I have not found any of their attempts worthy of an adult mind.

        In my thought, God desired living creatures, who would be like him in an existential way, yet they could never be exactly like the omnific One. This desire of God’s first appears as choice and is depicted in the speech of Lady Wisdom from Proverbs 8. It is apparent in the speech of Lady Wisdom that prior to creating, God thought about creation and made choices. In this sense, it is theologically correct to say that everything begins with choice.

       Since there is only one self-sustaining, omnific, living being then creation can only exist with limits. The interconnectedness of creation requires related limits in order for the universe to be more than chaotic or be useful as an external witness to God as creator (external in relation to humanity). Humanity’s godlikeness is first exhibited in choice, and then image aids us along the way as we live our lives. However, we are not the designers of the earth nor of our own existence, this was God’s doing. For this reason. God can be held accountable for the human condition. The idea of holding God culpable for creation sits in contrast to the ideology of predestination, an ideology that produces an unjust God. An unjust God is not a God of love.

It is only a radical monotheism that holds God accountable for the human condition.

          Radical monotheism simply has no place for angels and demons; they are mere personifications of powers and devices for understanding events. Job’s theology resonates with a radical monotheism that holds God culpable for not being more involved in the governing of humanity. 

The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;

he covers the eyes of its judges—

if it is not he, who then is it?

(Job 9:24)

            God holds humanity accountable for their existence. God justifies this through likeness (the freedom of choice) through image (love, mercy, insight, reality creation, naming, etc.) and finally through the moral conscience that recognizes, without special revelation, the goodness of the last six commandments of the Decalogue.

It is easy to expose humanity's culpability for the world, the reality we create.

          I should acknowledge that it is particularly easy to name the image marring realities that dehumanize and destroy. Paul’s vice lists and Jesus’ constant warnings against greed provide us with words for humanity’s corruption of reality. The Torah warns us of idols or powers that corrupt reality such as trusting in Empire, war and ethnic pride. The Prophets spoke of injustices that cause human suffering. All of these are preventable and within our power to correct, much more so for those who have received the good news of the coming of God in Jesus Christ.  

It is easy to separate God from the created order (God is not the creation).

         Because God is creator, separate from creation, then the creation is limited in the revealing of God beyond mere wondrous power. Only God’s entrance into humanity, living with the limits of a human life, reveals who God is in a way complete enough for humanity to grasp the ontological nature (holiness) of God.  It is faith that believes in a living God of mercy who displayed his love, his goodness, and his culpability, upon a cross. God is guilty of being merciful, guilty of love. Guilty of choosing the necessity of temporal suffering for both God’s self and humanity, so that we can become the children of God. So that God might accomplish his desire for a family, for a deified humanity to be embraced into his very being without separation, God had no other way to accomplish his desire than in the world as it is and through the story of the good news of Jesus.

Life cannot flourish without the mercy that is always ready to forgive.

           The life and death of Jesus is both God’s self-revelation and a lived display of God’s culpability. With arms wide open the God-man spoke words that challenge the theology of the church fathers; “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” They did not know they were murdering the Son of God, the Lord, the incarnate word, the creator of all, the one God.

Life cannot exist without forgiveness.

            In the mystery of the incarnation, God became a human being without exception. The picture is phenomenally communicative, God’s culpability in his death upon a cross, fulfilled in the death of an innocent human being who exonerates humanity with a breath and God with his last.


Forgiving God

A Poem by Mike Garner

Creation limited

the self-sustaining One

His goal, a family

His existence, unmatchable

Eternity ripped at the seams

Out of God’s desire suffering was born

Love wept at possibility,

tears flowed at the cost

Could the nature of the living One be known?

Out of the blood and mud

 formed and gifted with life

a family began

Children crying

People dying

Learning to be human

Feeling shame

Who is watching this mixture of life and pain?

Spirited words fill reality

An unmatchable story of love brings hope

On the lips of the suffering God

arms spread to repair eternity’s rift

Comes the word