What about God?

Once, during a radio interview, I was taken aback by the interviewer asking, “How do we convince people that Jesus is god with skin on?”
I admit I stumbled on that question. I could not get over the whole horrifying image of a visitor from another realm being disguised as one of us. (Readers who are familiar with the miniseries of V and the recent reboot know what I mean) I am waiting for someone to look at the imagery of the Holy Spirit descending as dove to call the HS “god with feathers.” Personally, I prefer the imagery given by the character Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof. “If God was a person people would break his windows.” Both of those images are interesting in what view of God is implied – God as secret visitor versus God as would be victim.
I agree with the Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber who states that all of the terms we use for the doctrine of the Divine – monotheism, pantheism, panentheism, and even atheism – are not really about God. They are anthropological and sociological terms describing how human beings think about and worship the Divine. In short, these are words about us. Whatever definition about God we give is going to be incomplete because we are not Divine. Truly, we are tempted to fall into the trap of oversimplification.
The terminology is the main reason we have difficulties with the orthodox christian doctrines of the Trinity. Unfortunately, there is more than one definition. The declaration “The Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6) is still difficult to imagine when we pray to Jesus “as though to God” (St. Justin the Martyr). These are best described as word images of God.
A word image tells something about the relationship between God and the person. We use word images to describe relationships with other people. “He is my rock.” “She is my heart.” These images do not describe the persons. They describe the type and depth of a relationship one person has with the other. Remember Thomas’ declaration in John’s gospel “My Lord and my God” to understand this relationship between Jesus and his followers. It is very different than the vulgar statement Thomas makes about touching and exploring Jesus’ wounds. And the confession is a much better description than the equally vulgar “god with skin on.”

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