Suppose we just leave out that three-letter word
Thursday, Apr 03, 2014 11:38 am
“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” - Alistar McGrath
One of the curious realities of Canadian life early in the 21st century is the increasing number of people who affirm some kind of belief in a Higher Power, Supreme Being, Intelligent Designer or Super Intellect, yet retain no firm conviction about regularly visiting a place of worship.
The explanations for this actuality are numerous and I hear many of them in the course of regularly interacting with those in Airdrie who tell me they “don’t do church.” I’m fascinated by the commonalities I hear when people confide that, apart from perhaps Easter or Christmas, regular attendance at a church, synagogue or mosque doesn’t rank very high on their “to do” lists.
Hypocrisy, irrelevant, too busy, guilt-trips, kids’ schedules, boring, judgemental people, dull monologues … are among the favourite themes I encounter. All of these explanations have some degree of merit, to be sure, and chances are good I can best any story that specifically elaborates on any one of them.
I too get frustrated with church-people. I too regret my own frequent failings. I, likewise, lament that church-goers often can be more of a “Nosy Nellie” than a “Compassionate Carl.” I fully understand the sentiments of that bumper sticker I periodically see: “Jesus: Save Me from Your Followers!”
The disparity between the truth represented in the quotation above and what many Canadians have experienced in church life is instructive. Many choose to become what I call “closet theists.” They readily grasp that the concept of this ordered world developing and functioning as the result of mere happenstance requires a greater faith than they possess.
Yet, the nonsense they’ve encountered in organizations that ostensibly serve as conduit to the relevant Higher Power, Supreme, Intelligent Designer, Super Intellect proved unbearable. Accordingly, they are wary of that three-letter word and anything that purportedly represents it - God. Most unfortunate, that.
I was recently privileged to spend some time with a friend who is a professional folk-rock musician on the club circuit. One of his latest songs is titled: Not a Good Time for God in which he laments mankind’s expertise at corrupting the “G” word. In our visit together, like Alistar McGrath, we recommitted to being more passionate in our efforts to more positively represent the Mastermind we’ve experienced as Friend.
Tim is pastor at Faith Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org