by Michel Weatherall

It is simple. God’s love trumps God’s power.

But what does that really mean? What are theMichel Weatherall Author real implications? It means we need to give up a lot. It means we must be willing to let go of many known sacred certainties.

Thomas Jay Oord’s book, The Uncontrolling Love of God, touches upon something close to my heart. It is something I have struggled and wrestled with and have been wounded by through the decades – through a great amount of pain, tears, heartache and crises of faith.

I am going to state one of the rare theological statements that I firmly hold to be true: God cannot be both omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

I know. Ouch. Now that I have your attention, allow me to continue with a few other statements of belief. I still hold onto the Christian idea of God as not merely loving, but Love itself. I believe the different world religions sprang from God’s general revelations, and what we see is a reflection of their different cultural and historical contexts. Believing this also means accepting Christianity as one of many cultural and historical environments arising from these general revelations. This is where the commonality of religions originates, in the general revelations of God.

I believe God distributes his wisdom (Sophia) among all peoples of all nationalities in all geographic locations and all cultures. Whether this Sophia speaks their “cultural language” or they hear her voice through their “cultural filters” matters little. The outcome is the same. She meets them where they are. It is not that I believe all religions lead to God; I believe none do.

Some might say this is something I choose to believe. I, however, don’t see this as about belief; my conscience gives me no other choice. I must trust that God communicates Sophia to all people and cultures. To think otherwise means to accept God as a bigot, even a racist. That is not love. In fact it would be the polar opposite of love; it would be hatred.

Nowhere does God’s love trump God’s power more obviously than in God’s success in communication. There are over 35,000 denominations dividing Christianity. In addition, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, every spiritual path is fractured based on plurality of human perception. Because of this multiplicity, we have a wellspring of time, experience, and resources at our disposal. If there were one correct way of viewing or encountering or experiencing the sacred, in our ever shrinking world it should have been made absolutely evident by now.

If God’s message is so simple and unmistakable in its intent, then why is there so much ambiguity? Why don’t more people agree? Are we following a supposed omnipotent deity who failed in his endeavor to successfully connect with us? How could an all-powerful, and all-loving God have gone so wrong and failed so miserably in his attempts?

Anyone who has ever ventured to communicate has experienced the ways it can go wrongly. Here are three. First, speakers of a message may not be plain about what they desire to impart. Second, speakers may not adequately express the idea or message. Third, the listener may not properly interpret or understand the speaker’s intent. If any of these occur then the effort to successfully relate will fail.

However, when dealing with an all-powerful, and all-loving entity, there are severe problems. The first two points deal with errors or flaws with the communicator. An omnipotent and omnibenevolent God cannot have a foggy message, unless we allow for deliberate misleading, which would bring God’s goodness into question (returning us to the Hateful-Bigot-God).

Concerning the third error of communication, I struggle with the listener not receiving or understanding the message properly. A perfect God would know how to successfully correspond in any situation. This creates a conundrum. Some would say humanity misinterprets God’s interactions. I don’t buy this. Like a good teacher, God’s message – to all people – should be glaring, and I believe it is. Here is what I mean. Even in the midst of human plurality the message is unmistakable. Among all the world’s religions there are overt signs pointing to a process, a direction of growth, a spiritual evolution, without the necessity of a destination. The truth is right before us and we are grasping onto the wrong paradigm–a paradigm of power and belief. All of us know the Golden Rule. In nearly all sacred traditions we are called to compassion. Interestingly it has always been made absolutely crystal clear how we are to treat one another.

Sophia speaks the loudest in apparent contradictions and paradoxes. Concern for power was our distraction, not God’s. Why has God left absolutely no ambiguity as to how we are to treat one another? Why is Compassion the one message or instruction to which we are called to respond? It is because love trumps power. Love trumps belief. It is not about one right religion. It is not about power. It is about love.

Regardless of our human quest for sacred certainty in all the wrong places, we are given little to no wiggle-room. God’s message and wisdom (Sophia) to the world was never a message of the one true right faith. Sophia’s message was a calling to Compassion, plain and simple. The voice of Sophia is a voice of love and to hear her is to hear the call to compassion.

Michel Weatherall is a fiction author, poet and blogger.

15 thoughts on “Divine Love Trumps Divine Power: The Voice of Sophia

  1. Would you suggest then that the view of Jesus being the only way to the “Father” is an misunderstanding/misinterpretation of Scripture?

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    • The problem with this is, if Jesus is the only way to the “Father”, then we must return to the concept of the Hateful-Bigot-God. Jesus also identified ‘other sheep not of this fold’ (John 10:16). I don’t believe Jesus’ message was that cut and dry.

      I will expand shortly on my ‘take’ on Jesus.

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    • I think how people choose the see the bible is extremely important.

      To those who accept it as the end-all be-all Truth (factual, literal, historical, scientic, etc) are wading into troubled waters.

      I chooose to see the bible – collectively as the omnibus or library that it is – as a love letter. Its accuracy and inaccuracy is unimportant.

      Ironically, I believe there is a lesson within the bible itself in regard to this:

      The lesson of idols in Exodus chapter 32.
      You know the one. It features the Golden Calf.
      Have you read it? Go back and read it again. There is an interesting point that I think is far too often overlooked.

      The gold that the Israelites built the Golden Calf out of was their gold earrings (Exodus 32:2-3). This gold was then melted down and cast into the shape of a calf. After Moses destroyed the idol, he burnt it in the fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it! (Exodus 32:20).
      That’s important and it has always caught my attention.

      It’s interesting that Moses didn’t just destroy it. Why would he make them drink it? What’s important is that the material – the gold of the Golden Calf – was always among the Israelites: before, during, and after the Golden Calf. It’s not that the gold wasn’t valuable, it’s just that it wasn’t important enough to worship in God’s place. There’s a lesson to learn here from this story.

      I see the bible in these same terms as the gold but not the Golden Calf. I am not comfortable saying that I believe in an “Inerrant-Bible” because it runs the risk of making the bible the center of one’s faith and becoming an idol – making that transition from precious gold to Golden Calf.

      To go that far is to go too far: just like the Israelites making their precious and valuable gold and reshaping it into a god. But that’s not to downplay its importance and value. The Israelites drank it and absorbed it within themselves. It is worth making part of our beings. It is worth consuming. It just isn’t worth worshiping. The bible is golden but it isn’t a Golden Calf.

      I can’t help but wonder if the lesson of The Golden Calf, in addition to a warning against idolatry, is a warning against Biblioidolatry.

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      • You’re preaching to the choir in regards to Biblical Idoloatry. You answred my question the first time. I am not in 100% agreement with you, but at least you can defend your beliefs. But again my question was not one of Biblical inerrancy.

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  2. You said “If God’s message is so simple and unmistakable in its intent, then why is there so much ambiguity? Why don’t more people agree? Are we following a supposed omnipotent deity who failed in his endeavor to successfully connect with us? How could an all-powerful, and all-loving God have gone so wrong and failed so miserably in his attempts?”

    Wasn’t that the point of Jesus to reveal the father? I realize that also has implications for the atonement as well, since many believe Jesus purpose here was to die.

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    • Was the point of Jesus to reveal the father? Was Jesus’ point to bring in another, true religion? Or was it to end religiosity? Although I don’t disagree that he was an introduction, a portal to the Father, it was more – in my humble opinion – of a reveal than a redemption.

      Because, as I’ve mentioned earlier, if the revealing of the Father was nothing more than reintroduction yet another ultimate and final deity (truth) we are again forced to look at a tribal God that suffers from being a Bigot. You are favoured, or saved, or ‘correct’ only if you believe one culture’s beliefs – only if you were born from a particular geographic location – and ultimtely – only if you were born of a specific ethnic group.

      The heretical Rabbi, Yeshua of Nazareth, spoke of a strange and elusive concept he called The Kingdom of God. Something that was yet to come, yet strangely present in the Here and Now; within ourselves. An unrealized potential.

      I believe this potential is that Yeshua is the Fruit of the Tree of Life (and must be consumed…) not so much for Salvation, but for emancipation. Not so much the roll of Redeemer but as Revealer and as an exemplar what he reveals is that it is religiosity itself that kept us ignorant, captive, and slaves

      I’ve come to believe that Yeshua never intended to install a new religion (Christianity), but a heightened awareness – a sort of freedom rather than a salvation. Yeshua’s Kingdom of God wasn’t a new religion, but the end of all religion; emancipation from the Entrapment of Religiosity.

      If we can let go of being right, of believing we are part of the “one true faith” and abandon our search for that “one true faith”, we can begin following what I believe must be God’s message – God’s wisdom (Sophia).
      Compassion towards our fellow man.

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  3. Michel, you have written many ideas for thoughtful reflection. I am not sure they will be well received by many according to their understanding of God in the Bible. I think you are saying that if certain beliefs contained in the Bible are necessary for a relationship with one’s Creator, why hasn’t God made the Bible available to all as opposed to the minority of people who have been born into this world? This is also relevant for those who struggle to get their head around a relationship with an invisible God or who have been negatively influenced since God has not guaranteed infallible interpretations. Great post Michel!

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    • ” I am not sure they will be well received by many according to their understanding of God in the Bible.”

      I’m sure they won’t. I would like to believe I had been invited to participate and submit this essay BECAUSE of the fact that I approach the challenges presented in Thomas Jay Oord’s book NOT from a Christian perspective, but from an untraditional pluralistic one (even unorthodox from a pluralistic point of view).

      I don’t believe in Tribalism. I believe humanity’s next spiritual evolutionary step must be away from Tribalism and Religosity. The God that I know and have encountered is a wild one. He/She/It is anything BUT safe & known & easily put in a box.

      One of my favourie ‘Christian-reads’ is C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. I love this book on so many levels. Firstly because so many churches read it and miss how dangerously ‘unsafe’ C.S. Lewis can be. But primarily I love this book because it was my first introduction to the concept of an anonymous Christian.

      Once be accept and dwell upon the concept of the anonymous Christian it isn’t long before we realize it isn’t just the Christian that may be ‘anonymous’. (John Hicks lauches full out into this in “God Has Many NAmes” & “The Metaphor of God Incarnate” – both great books and well worth the read).

      Thank you for your kind words, Mike.

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  4. Dear Michel,

    I enjoyed reading your article. I disagree, I believe that God is both Omnipotent and Omnibenevolent.

    God made direct contact with mankind when he became a man in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. A good part of His message can be found in what we Christians call the New Testament. An extensive presentation of His message is to be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    A principal reason for the great variety of beliefs which you point out is God’s exquisite respect for our freedom. Unfortunately, many of us choose beliefs and behavior which are detrimental to our own and other peoples’ well-being.

    God in His Infinite Wisdom has decreed that He would share His Glory with man in how his message of love and mercy would spread throughout the world. We Christians believe that it is His desire to use the Church to convert the nations all over the world. Unfortunately, because of original sin, we (us Christians) and others (the nations) have failed to some degree in sending and receiving this message. Saint Josemaria Escriva has put it succinctly when he said that we are suffering from a crisis of saints – there are simply not enough of them.

    In other words, the nations are not Christian because I have not responded to the graces God has given to me.

    There is a commonly held belief among non-Christians that they will suffer the torments of Hell if they do not become Christian. This is not necessarily true. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the final judge is man’s own conscience, and whether he or not he has been true to it; It inevitably comes down to two questions:

    Did one seek the truth?
    Did one follow the truth?

    We Roman Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the Truth, which makes Pilates question quite ironic. We believe that if one has not, for some reason, been able to find and worship Christ in this life, they will be given the opportunity to meet and worship Christ in the next life. Their reaction to this meeting will determine their final end.

    Sincerely,

    Patrick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is great to be able to share differing points of view. Ultimately, I believe dialogue is a good and healthy path to growth.

      You have expressed the Catholic point of view quite well. Although we may not agree, it is through this ‘friction’ that we can ‘hone’ and ‘sharpen’ our understanding of the divine, moving towards a greater and larger truth.

      I couldn’t agree with you more on your point of a commonly held belief that non-Christians will suffer the torments of hell is they do not become Christian. As I had replied to a previous commentor’s post, It is in C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity that I myself had first come across the concept of the Anonymous Christian. I think this is one in the same to which you refer to. I wholely embrace this idea. It is the only avenue for a Christian God to be all loving. So on this point, my friend, we most definitely agree!

      Thanks for reading my essay and commenting Pat!
      God bless.

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      • I just want to say that I have very much enjoyed reading the dialog here. In a world where differing views are generally met with increasingly vitriolic responses back and forth, it is a breath of fresh air to see people with different beliefs be peaceful and respectful in all of their exchanges.

        My faith tradition is Wesleyan Pentecostal. As a person who believes that love is paramount, I very much appreciate the ideas you both have presented. While I am still what I might call a seeker with regards to my “end times” theology, I have wrestled with many of the thoughts I am reading about here.

        So much is still hazy to me. I don’t have a lot of concrete answers for this type of study.

        However, I believe that a people that practice peace and love and respect are not far from the kingdom, no matter where they align themselves theologically.

        Peace,
        g

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you are extremely ‘close’ to a paramount truth here, gradenpapers.
    I’d like to share one my favourite stories with you. One that I think greatly demonstrates your point well:

    On a busy downtown corner coffeeshop, a Creationist Born-Again Christian, a Adamant Evolutionist Atheist, and Yeshua are sitting together having their morning coffee.

    Yeshua is sipping his Grande Vanilla Latte (because we all know that’s what he drinks), while quietly – apparently – people-watching through the coffeeshop’s window. The Christian-Creationist and Athiest-Evolutionist are debating back and forth.

    It would almost seem like Yeshua is ignorning them, fixating on some point, or individual, or event outside the coffee shop – or maybe he’s just daydreaming. Who knows? The Christian-Creationist and Athiest-Evolutionist argument becomes louder and louder – more and more heated – more and more agitated – to the point when they are angry and near yelling at one another.

    In a final fit of rage, the Christian-Creationist turns to Yeshua and demands that he intervene into this debate and settle – once and for all – what the TRUTH really it! Both men fall silent, their chests heaving in their anger, waiting with anticipated breath.

    Yeshua turns his attention to them and answers, “Oh yes. I can answer your question,” with an odd expression on his face. He turns his attention back towards the coffeeshop’s window and gently points to a homeless man sitting on the sideway, just outside the shop, and answers: “Which one of your is going to buy his lunch?”

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  6. Wow! I am just re-reading your essay, Michel, as I am doing some arrangements of these on this blog for a possible book containing them. I get it! If God refrained from revealing God’s self to any particular group of people, or to only one group of people, then God would be a bigot and would exemplify hatred, not love. God engages all peoples. Even His revelation to Israel for the purpose of becoming incarnate among them was ultimately for the purpose of revelation to all peoples.

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  7. Michel, you said, “In nearly all sacred traditions we are called to compassion. Interestingly it has always been made absolutely crystal clear how we are to treat one another.” How do you account for God’s clear message not being appropriated by some persons or by some people groups?

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    • How Do I account for God’s clear message (of compassion) not being appropriated, or practiced or followed, by some groups or people?

      For clarity’s sake, let me make sure I understand what you’re asking me.
      Are you asking me why some groups (religious or not) or people don’t choose to act with compassion?
      Ultimately, we still retain our free will. Although I believe God’s clear message is compassion, I still believe we can get sidetracked, off the beaten path, deluded, etc.

      I’m not sure what you’re asking me.

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