Monday, November 3, 2014

Article for the Ocean Springs Gazette

     J. B. Phillips, famous for his translation work (he translated the “New Testament in Modern English,” 1958), was the author of a book entitled “Your God is Too Small” (published in 1961).  “Your God is Too Small” begins with these memorable words:  “The trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough...”  Not much has changed since 1961 with regard to the “size” of our conceptions of God.  We still tend to think “too small.”
The problem of a God who is too small is not, however, relegated to the middle of the Twentieth Century (or the beginning of the Twenty-First).  The prophet Isaiah challenges the “size” of God as imagined by his contemporaries.  And, he  told them that their God was too small.  He speaks of their attitude toward “foreigners” and speaking for God says:  “ house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Isaiah’s vision is still challenging us.  Turns out, not much has changed in this regard since the Tenth Century.
A few weeks ago St. John’s Episcopal Church hosted the viewing of the documentary “Besa.”  The film concerns the Muslims who saved Jews during the holocaust.  The audience included a Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam.  Afterward, the Imam and I had our picture taken in front of a bulletin board entitled “Children of Abraham.”  Everyone in attendance wrote their name on a “star” and the stars were pinned to the bulletin board.  Each and everyone a child of Abraham.  Jews, Christians, Muslims--one and all--a child of Abraham.  It was a good night for Ocean Springs and for people of faith.
Such evenings, however, stretch our theology.  And, truth be told, our theology needs stretching.  Isaiah knew the theology of Israel in exile needed stretching.  Jesus came, still stretching the theology of his day.  The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Rome, would need to stretch their theologizing upon such matters.  Our conceptions of God have to be stretched because, time after time, our conceptions of God are, as J. B. Phillips suggested, “too small.”

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