God of Creation and Invitation

Faith is not believing things we know to be untrue nor believing them with a confidence the evidence does not warrant. It is a way of response to the God whom we cannot know with certainty…Theology is the attempt to coordinate faith and doubt in a way which does justice to our status as responsible human beings and that seeks to save us from the short cuts of superstitious credulity and despairing skepticism.

— Maurice Frank Wiles (17 October 1923 – 3 June 2005)
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, 1970 – 1991

While I appreciate Wile’s attempt to reconcile the challenge of faith and doubt, in my opinion, there is a critical component missing from his position. Wiles was not a big believer in miracles or, it appears, God’s intervention in our daily lives.  Yet he clearly had a sense of God’s presence in our midst.  What seems to be absent in his theological framework is a relational perspective with God.

the-creation-of-adamI find this fascinating, because throughout our sacred story — over and over again, we hear through the prophet, apostles and martyrs of both an active and an interactive God with humanity.

As I once heard it said, God is neither a puppeteer nor a superhero. Rather, the God of our ancestors is the God of creation and invitation. He is one who is continually  creating, gifting, redeeming and reconciling.  And He invites us to be a part of it.

The faith journey can contain both amazing epiphanies and dreadful despair. In either extreme, or in the routine between the two, ours is not a solo flight — it is in relationship with both God and the world around us.

2 thoughts on “God of Creation and Invitation”

  1. Maurice Wiles’ teaching was amazing for this undergraduate student of theology at Oxford, but deeply dissatisfying. You’ve put your finger on exactly what it was that led a dozen of us to form a pentecostal house church, seeking the experience of God (and plotting to burn Wiles and the C of E Doctrine Committee at the stake too, but maybe we can put that down to the excess of youth…)

  2. I agree with Bishop Prior that the relational component is missing. However, the relational God is one that a traditional and more orthodox view and formulation of God becomes problematic, particularly with respect to theodicy: how does one reconcile an all-loving, relational God with an all-powerful God who allows such evil to occur without apparent intervention? The personal interventions Bishop Prior refers to seem inadequate to completely explain the LACK of interventions when overwhelming injustice or evil appear to demand such intervention from the classical all-powerful God. For me, the way to accept a God who fails to intervene when love and justice most require it, is through a Process-theological understanding of God. This approach also goes a long way to eliminate the doubt created by the theodicy question: it allows for the possibility of miracles (or rather, a re-definition within a natural theology that does not require supernatural intervention), and preserves an understanding of God as love in a way that erases the doubt that arises from maintaining a more classical or orthodox view of God. It is an approach that appears more consistent with “the evidence.”

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