Sunday, March 2, 2014

Coming Down, Yet Lifting Us Up

I’m reading a book right now, The Devil Walks in Mattingly, by Billy Coffey.  The BookLook Bloggers program sent me this book to review.  This particular post is not my official review, but the review will come soon in the future.

As I was reading the book last night, a particular passage on page 18 stood out to me, and I was reminded of that passage as I listened to my pastor’s sermon at church this morning.  The context of the passage is that Kate, the wife of the local sheriff, is visiting Lucy.  Lucy is said to be a troubled young lady, in that she has swiped cigarettes and alcohol and has had lots of boyfriends.  As a matter of fact, a half-naked man is fleeing Lucy’s house when Kate arrives!  Kate notices a stack of philosophy books in Lucy’s home, and Lucy says that those books are where she (Lucy) seeks her answers.  Lucy asks where Kate gets her answers, and Kate responds, “Church, I suppose.”  Lucy then replies:

“You’re not here to give me Jesus, are you?  Because I’m afraid I’ll just stick to my books.  Church brings God down to man.  I’m more interested in what lifts man to God.”

The book then goes on to say:  “Kate said nothing to this, though she thought that sort of thinking could do more damage to a young lady than any half-naked [young man] could manage.”

This morning at church, my pastor was talking about the transfiguration and the incarnation.  He said that God came down to human beings in the incarnation, but that God is also transforming human nature, in a sense, to make it more divine.  As church fathers said, God became as we are, that we might become as God is.

My pastor and the church fathers most likely did not have in mind the sort of teaching that I got in my Armstrongite heritage: that human beings will become godlike beings within a God family, creating planets in their own universe.  But they may acknowledge that there will be overlap between believers in the eschaton and God: both have immortality, and both are perfectly moral.

The point is that God came down to human beings, and yet God also wants to lift human beings to God.
What was Kate’s problem with Lucy’s statement?  Perhaps Kate thought that what Lucy said reeked of hubris, or that Lucy needed to rely on and submit to a higher power rather than trying to exalt herself as some sort of God.  I agree with honoring a being who is greater than myself, while accepting the gift of that being’s compassionate presence in my own life.  At the same time, I also believe that this being is leading people to become greater than they currently are.

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