Who is God? What People Are Saying.

In Post Carousel, Who Is God

Everyone has become a captive of a fateful illusion that believes itself able to drive out evil by force. In this world where we everywhere marshal force against force, we must learn that force at best may succeed in containing a few manifestations of evil, but it can never conquer or eliminate evil. On the contrary, the force with which we fight evil has mainly the consequence that we ourselves become the victims of evil. As we resort to force against others, evil attacks us from behind and makes us evil ourselves.Helmut Gollwitzer
God is all-powerful, but that is not to say he is all-controlling. God rules through love, and love offers us the freedom to choose…Without choice there is no love. So God made us in his image. God already had pets. He wanted people.Bruxy Cavey
My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself…Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The incarnation is the supreme example. It leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins.


The more often a man feels without acting, the less he will ever be able to act, and in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.C.S. Lewis
Mixing politics and religion is like mixing manure and ice cream. It doesn’t do much to the manure, but it sure ruins the ice cream!
Will Rogers
Scripture indicates that every sinner kindles for himself the flame of his own fire, and is not plunged into a fire which has been previously kindled by someone else or which existed before him.


No one will be able to know the origin of evils who has not grasped the truth about the so-called devil and his angels, and who he was before he became a devil, and how he became a devil, and what caused his so-called angels to rebel with him…He who was Lucifer and who arose in heaven, he who was without sin from the day of his birth and who was among the cherubim, was able to fall with respect to the kindness of the Son of God before he could be bound by chains of love.Origen of Alexandria

If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody. And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever.
Rob Bell
The judgment being never juridical but revelatory, it is not the expression of the servile terror of men, but of their comprehension of the divine reality…The judgment at this moment is then: to be what one has actually wished to be, but seeing it in the light of God what it was.
Jacques Ellul
Scripture indicates that every sinner kindles for himself the flame of his own fire, and is not plunged into a fire which has been previously kindled by someone else or which existed before him.


There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong. Labeling that mean-ness as “being faithful” to the Gospel doesn’t make it less hateful…theology is best done with humility and a recognition that certainty is very hard to come by. When we become so certain that our theology is ironclad and right, that’s when we become smug, arrogant, and dismissive of people who disagree with us.
Jason Boyett

Unbelief, by shutting the door on God’s love, turns his love into judgment. For this is the meaning of judgment, that man shuts himself off from God’s love. There would be no judgment at all were it not for the event of God’s love. And with the mission of the Son this judgment has become a present reality.
Rudolf Bultmann
Jesus never called for the sword of steel to help the sword of spirit.


[It is] against the testimony of Christ Jesus for the civil state to impose upon the souls of the people a religion…An enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus is come in the Flesh.Roger Williams
If Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent him.
Walter Wink
Beware the man who seizes the levers of Caesar to usher in the kingdom of God.
Mark Hatfield
The importance of John’s extraordinarily high Christology for the message of Revelation is that it makes it absolutely clear that what Christ does, God does…Revelation’s Christology must be incorporated in our account of its understanding of God…God is related to the world not only as the transcendent holy One, but also as the slaughtered Lamb……John has forged a new symbol of conquest by sacrificial death. The messianic hopes…are not repudiated: Jesus really is the expected Messiah of David. But insofar as the latter was associated with military violence and narrow nationalism, it is reinterpreted by the image of the Lamb. The Messiah has certainly won a victory, but he has done so by sacrifice.
Richard Bauckham
We cannot deduce anything about Jesus from what we think we know about God; we must now deduce everything about God from what we do know about Jesus.
Brennan Manning
This vision of ultimate good being determined by faithfulness and not results is the point where we modern men get off.
J.H. Yoder
The issue at stake in atonement is not divine anger against sin that must legally be dealt with, but the moral problem of sin as a very real destroyer of those who choose it. To the God whose morality is love, sin must be dealt with in such a way as to remove it effectively forever and thus rescue sinners from its deadly grasp. This could only be done by demonstrating that sin itself leads to death…Substitution means the revelation of this fact, a fact that points to the good news that salvation in no way resolves divine anger but saves sinners from the sin that would destroy them. In this interpretation, then, there is no opposition between divine mercy and justice; rather God is faced with the challenges of human rebellion and wrestles with us, not with Himself, to save us.
Jean Sheldon
The source of human unhappiness is an obsession with self. Behind it is the central message that the devil has placed inside our heads. That central message is, “Look after number one because you can’t trust God to look after you.” “Take matters into your own hands.” “Pay yourself first. Every cent that you earn, make sure that you spend it on yourself before you give it to some church, charity or individual in need and, even if choose to give, make sure you do it to get some other payoff like honor and praise or at least a tax deductible receipt.” The sin problem all comes down to one common denominator – me, myself, and I.
Manuel Silva
The character of Jesus, we proclaim, provides humanity with a unique and indispensable guide for tracing the development of maturing images and concepts of God across human history and culture. It is the North Star, if you will…For Christians, the Bible’s highest value is in revealing Jesus, who gives us the highest, deepest, and most mature view of the character of the living God.
Brian McLaren
Do to us what you will and we will still love you…But be assured that well wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process; and our victory will be a double victory.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I was growing up, I tended to see the God of the Old Testament as the tough one; Jesus was so gentle I didn’t even see him as God. I knew he was “Son of God” and “divine” but God himself? Not really. Some vivid Old Testament stories and the picture of Jesus pleading with the Father on my behalf had convinced me that only as a last resort would the Father let me slip through the back door into the kingdom. Not until I was a second-year seminary student…did the “truth” strike home that Jesus was God in the flesh. Unless you have had such an experience, you cant possibly imagine the joy that flooded my soul. No longer was I haunted by the picture of a distant and reluctant God. If God himself took human flesh and came to earth to save sinners, he must really want me in his kingdom. The whole universe suddenly became a much friendlier place.
Alden Thompson
If someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth and that in reality the truth were outside of Christ, then I should prefer to remain with Christ rather than with the truth…Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ.
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Evil arose in the context of freedom; there could not be evil in the absence of freedom. And yet freedom only provides the opportunity and is not the cause of evil. Freedom is the value that God will not surrender even in the face of sin…in the Christian account freedom is seamlessly tied to the character of God. God has, as it were, taken upon Himself to pay the price for freedom rather than solve the problem of sin by abolishing it. The problem facing the human family and the core issue in cosmic conflict theology center on the character of God.
Sigve Tonstad
Sadly, there are those who would have us love Christ for protecting us from God, instead of leading us to God – the one home of safety. They imagine justice and love dwelling in eternal opposition in the bosom of eternal unity…I and the Father are One is the center-truth of the universe. And the encircling truth is, That they also may be one in us.
George MacDonald
The reason why so many…Christians are so notoriously unChristian is simple: for the majority…Christianity isn’t about the teaching of Jesus…Christianity as it exists among fundamentalists isn’t about behaving like Jesus. Its all about faith…The underlying message seems to be: you can behave any way you want as long as you believe…and say you’re sorry before you die…There ought to be a term that would designate those who actually follow the teachings of Jesus, since the word Christian has been largely divorced from those teachings, and so polluted…that it has come to connote their polar opposite: intolerance, vindictive hatred, and bigotry.
Philip Slater
Because of Jesus…I must adjust my instinctive notions about God. Perhaps that lay at the heart of his mission? Jesus reveals a God who comes in search of us, a God who makes room for our freedom even when it costs the Sons life, a God who is vulnerable. Above all, Jesus reveals a God who is love.
Philip Yancey
The character and rule of God is manifested when instead of employing violence against his enemies to crush them, Jesus loves his enemies in order to redeem them.
Greg Boyd
I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. Its not my purpose to punish it; its my joy to cure it.
William P Young
The difficult thing for us is to sit in the process of being approached by someone. Because we are used to theory, we want someone to say, This is what it is. Get the theory right. Now put it into practice. This imagines that we are part of a stable universe that we can control. But if the real center of our universe is an I AM coming towards us as our victim who is forgiving us, then we are not in a stable place. We are in that place of being de-stabilized, because we are being approached by someone who is entirely outside our structures of vengeance and order.
James Alison
Omnipotence is not to be understood as the power of unlimited coercion, but as the power of infinite persuasion, the invincible power of self-negating, self-sacrificial love.
G.B. Caird
I had to learn that Christian doctrine, if it is to merit its name…has to be exclusively and conclusively the doctrine of Jesus Christ — of Jesus Christ as the living Word of God spoken to us. If I look back from this point on my earlier studies, I may well ask myself how it ever came about that I did not learn this much sooner and accordingly speak it out. How slow is man, above all when the most important things are at stake!
Karl Barth
A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many people have misread the book of Romans as a book that explains how we can legally get to heaven. This interpretation, however, misses the central question that Paul is answering in this book, and that central question is this: Can God be Trusted?


One reason that the world finds the New Testaments message of peacemaking and love of enemies incredible is that the church is so massively faithless. On the question of violence, the church is deeply compromised and committed to nationalism, violence, and idolatryRichard B. Hays

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.
Mahatma Gandhi
In the history of the Western Church since the era of Constantine, God as stern-moral-sentencing Judge eclipsed God as loving Story-teller, who weaves a transformative tapestry of faith, hope and love through the ages…Gods ultimate words for the cosmos become flesh incarnated in Jesus.
Wayne Northey
Picture Christ in the upper room the night before he was crucified. The twelve disciples were squabbling like children as to “which of them should be thought of as the greatest.” Did Jesus chide them for their folly or scold them for their unwillingness to wash each others feet? Instead, he quickly arose, took a towel and basin of water, and the universe watched as the Great Creator knelt down and washed a dozen pairs of dirty feet. He even washed the feet of his betrayer.
Graham Maxwell
The basis for the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount is not what works but rather the way God is. Cheek-turning is not advocated as what works it usually does not but advocated because this is the way God is – God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.
Stanley Hauerwas
Whereas retributive justice seeks to fit the punishment to the crime, attempting to control wrongdoing through punishment, restorative justice forgives the crime and seeks to redeem wrongdoing through a repairing of the relationship…Justice, therefore, does not mean getting let off the hook, or getting away with murder or worse. It means coming face to face with the shameful depravity of personal sin by coming face to face with the One who has the right and the power to punish but who instead loves and forgives. Love and forgiveness instead of anger and punishment bring repentance and redemption and in this manner, justice is served.
Sharon Baker
True love stems from knowing God. When we know Him…we find our hearts broken in admiration and adoration for the great sacrifice He has made to reach us. The recognition of the immense measures He took upon Himself leads to gratitude in our hearts. As we learn to know Him, we come to love, admire, respect, and trust Him. We learn His methods and principles, and then we begin to practice them in our own lives. Our desire to stand for what is true and healthy eventually outweighs our concern for ourselves, and we begin to walk on a higher plane of existence, free from fear and insecurity. God re-creates us within and endows us with a power outside of ourselves that enables our continued advancement and growth.
Tim Jennings
Jesus passion got him killed. His passion for the kingdom of God led to what is called his passion in a narrower sense, namely, his suffering and death. But to restrict Jesus passion to his suffering and death is to ignore the passion that brought him to Jerusalem. To think of Jesus passion as simply what happened on Good Friday is to separate his death from the passion that animated his life. Did Good Friday have to happen? As divine necessity? No. As human inevitability? Virtually.
Marcus Borg
Christ taught us that the final resort in the face of human violence is to take up the cross and lay down ones life, not with defiant battle cries but as sheep to be slaughtered. Sacrificial, co-suffering love truly is a more powerful force. The Cross was not Gods violent solution to sin – it was an act of love in which God destroyed the power of violence by refusing to be drawn into it.
Brad Jersak
Jesus life provoked hostility that led to his death. Jesus took the initiative to help others live as the humans God had created them to be. He lifted up many by countering self-crippling, alienating shame with loving acceptance…In Jesus, humans encountered God incarnate, and they rejected and killed him. Apparently the God Jesus proclaimed, whose kingdom Jesus introduced into human history, did not match the kind of God people wanted…Here people encountered One who lived…as God created us to live. And their response was to kill him.
Mark D. Baker
The inevitability of the death of Jesus does not stem from Gods need but from humanity’s. There are only two roles to play in the tale of divine and human relationships, persecutor or persecuted. God can cause suffering or God can suffer. God in Christ chose the latter.
Michael Hardin
Jesus once declared that God is good to the ungrateful and the wicked Luke 6:35 and I remember preaching a sermon on this text to a horrified and even astonished congregation who simply refused to believe in this astounding liberality of God. That God should be in a state of constant fury with the wicked seemed to them only right and proper, but that God should be kind towards those who were defying or disobeying His laws seemed to them a monstrous injustice. Yet I was but quoting the Son of God Himself, and I only comment here that the terrifying risks that God takes are part of His Nature. We do not need to explain or modify His unremitting love towards mankind.
J.B. Phillips
There was, then, no such thing as a pre-Christian Jewish version of what we now think of as Pauline atonement-theology…The earliest Christians regarded Jesus achievement on the cross as the decisive victory over evil. But they saw it even more, as the climax of a career in which active, outgoing, healing love had become the trademark and hallmark.
N.T. Wright
Jesus…communicates the Godself most graphically and dramatically on the cross itself, where we see and learn to trust the free offer of Gods love in a brutal and utterly compelling image, one that assaults the defended psyche, mind, and heart. Self-giving love calls forth love in return…the trouble is that we emphasized paying a cosmic debt more than communicating a credible love – which is the utterly central issue. It became more an image of a Divine transaction than an image of Gods free action in human transformation…Many substituted a theological explanation for a transformative story and image. Nevertheless, the cross is still our official icon of transformation, and not surprisingly became the very corporate logo of Christianity itself.
Richard Rohr
God is the victim of all human cruelty, says the gospel: God bleeds for every human wound. Inasmuch as we do good or ill to any human person, it is done to God…the good news of Christianity is that, since God suffers human pain, since God is the victim of human injury, then there is beyond all our sin a love that is inexhaustible. Gods love for this creation never comes to a point where it can take no more…Gods love never comes to an end. So God can always survive the hurt we do him; whenever we turn to him in sorrow and longing, after we have done some injury, this love is still there, waiting for us, a home whose door is always open. Whatever we do can never shut that door to his merciful acceptance. The only thing that can keep us out is the refusal to ask for and trust in that mercy. And the gospel proclaims all this in virtue of the cross of Jesus.
Rowan Williams
That mankind is still capable of the murderous evils that have been committed in the 20th century may in part be due to the fact that Jews and Christians have totally incorporated, into their unconscious perhaps, extremely vengeful and righteous behavior as characteristic of the God they worship.
Steve Allen
Do not let me hear of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly…The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
T.S. Eliot
Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever til the end of time! But he loves you.
George Carlin
The responses of the father and the older brother [in the story of the prodigal son] really do reveal two very different attitudes toward forgiveness, with the father of the story imaging Gods forgiveness. The story foreshadows our contemporary conversations about atonement theology.
J. Denny Weaver
Our enemies are those who harbor hostility against us, not those against whom we cherish hostility…As a Christian I am called to treat my enemy as a brother and to meet hostility with love. My behavior is thus determined not by the way others treat me, but by the treatment I receive from Jesus.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It is only this deep rootedness in Gods all-inclusive love that can prevent the peacemaker from being ravaged by the same anger, resentment and violence that leads to war.
Henry J. M. Nouwen
[Jesus] willingly chose to descend to the very lowest place in all the universe…Here is the consummate revelation of the true heart and mind of God. Here is how utterly selfless and other-centered is His love…With no self-centered calculation, and no risk-free guarantee of return, He moved from His high throne to the edge of our dark night.
Ty Gibson
Forgiveness is about power – it not only sets free the sinner from the burden of guilt but also sets free victims from being forever defined by what has hurt them.
Samuel Wells
In Jesus life on earth, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, we see demonstrated the contrast between Satan’s way and Gods way. There, Satan’s accusations against God were proved false, and God is seen to be the trustworthy, loving heavenly Father that He really is. He is not a selfish God. He is Himself the personification of the law of self-sacrificial love. He is not a bloodthirsty God demanding a sacrifice; He is Himself the sacrifice.
Paul Heubach
Most of us have grown up visualizing God as ensconced behind the thick walls of His heavenly fortress while were banging our fists on the door trying to persuade Him that were good enough for Him to let us in. But Revelation 3:20 pictures us inside and God outside knocking on the door, trying to persuade us that He is good enough for us to let Him in. God is the one on trial, not us. We are deciding whether Hes the kind of God we want to spend forever with.
Dan Smith
One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve…Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.
Albert Schweitzer
It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy and truth. The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is the revelation of His character of love.
Ellen G. White
I have said all this to you in figures, but a time is coming when I shall not do so any longer, but will tell you plainly about the Father…When that time comes you ask as my followers, and I do not promise to intercede with the Father for you, for the Father loves you himself… Goodspeed’s translation of John 16:25-27
Edgar Goodspeed
Its amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.
Nate McMillian
Jesus manifested love for individuals and never turned away from a soul in need. He drew men to Him and then rejoiced to help them. So it is with God, for Jesus came to make God known to us, to men who had looked upon the Father as unkind and remote from humanity. God was in Christ, we read; He was the word of God, Gods thought made audible. To know what God is like, look at Jesus…[In Jesus we see that] God is personal, powerful, and loving…We are not children crying in the night of an impersonal, dead universe…It is our privilege to open our hearts to Him as to a friend.
H.M.S. Richards, Sr.
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone.
Leo Tolstoy
I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame of that heats our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross