Early in the multimedia-based study of Christian theology, “Living the Questions 2.0: An Introduction to Progressive Christianity” (LtQ2) the question is asked, “What is the character of your God?”

This question has become an on-going personal reflection on what God is and what God is not. I continually elicit input from others. Regardless of how much personal contemplation is involved or how much input from others is folded into it, this reflection will never be authoritative or definitive or complete. I am not writing a creed.

To use this reflection as a personal or group exercise or meditation; 1) Do not try to discern what I am trying to say or what it means to me. Use it to create a personal introspection, not a critique. 2) During the first complete uninterrupted reading, withhold judgements and evaluations and responses until it is finished, then ask these questions: What was obvious? What was confusing? What was surprising? What was an epiphany? How should the current response be edited? What should be re-worded, rearranged, re-sequenced, deleted, added, or changed in some way? What should be rejected? What should be questioned or examined or requires more contemplation? What should be affirmed? Based on what you include and what you did not include, what does this reveal about your relationship with God?

The only requirement of the exercise is that every “God is” quality (sometimes expressed as more than one statement) must be paired with a “God is not” quality (which, likewise, is sometimes expressed as more than one statement).

Only two assumptions are made. The second assumption is that each individual is in relationship with God and that something of the nature of God can be discerned through that relationship.

The first assumption?
God Is.

* * * * * * * * * *

God Is
God is Only Is
God is not was
God is not will be

God is Reality
God is not imaginary

God Exists
God is Important
God is not superfluous
God is not undeniable
God is not inescapable

God is Mystery
God is not unknowable – God can be experienced
God is not confined or constrained by any list
     – including this list
God is not completely enclosed or fully defined or fully detailed by any list
    – including this list

God is Divine
God is not mortal or finite or ordinary

God is Expecting Us to be Divine
God is not made in our image
God is not anthropomorphic or an action figure

God is Infinite
God is not limitless

God is Good and Holy
God is not bad or evil

God is Love
God is not hate

God is Choices
God is not forced options

God is Questions
God is not answers

God is Grace
God is not spiteful or rejecting or conditional

God is Relationship
God is Freedom
God is not regulation or regimentation
God is not a megalomaniac or needing to be in control

God is Truth
God is not a liar

God is Wise
God is not foolish

God is Light
God is Color
God is more than the Spectrum
God is not darkness

God is Peace
God is not angry or violent or punitive or warring

God is Reconciliation
God is not divisive or feuding or a holder of grudges

God is Vibrant
God is not inactive or lethargic
God is not unresponsive or passive

God is Life
God is not death

God is Growth and Maturation and Forward
God is not shrinking or regressive or stagnant or stuck
God is not infantile or Peter Pan or backward

God is Listening
God is not deaf or inattentive

God is Intelligent and Knowledgeable
God is not stupid or ignorant

God is Creative and Imaginative
God is not destructive or innovation-averse or boring

God is Artistic and Musical
God is not unexpressive

God is Always-Inviting and All-Accepting and All-Inclusive
God is Welcoming and Hospitable
God is not exclusionary or exploitive
God is not unwelcoming or inhospitable

God is Ever Present and Ever Engaged
God is not absent or unreachable or uninvolved

God is Patient
God is not impatient

God is Challenging and Insistent and Relentless
God is an Educator encouraging Learning and Questioning, Knowledge and Wisdom
God is not stopped or paused or giving up on us
God is not uninvolved or uncommunicative
God is not a trainer or a score-keeper or an examiner or an inquisitor
God is not dismissive or authoritarian

God is Sympathy and Empathy and Caring and Generous
God is not petty or insincere or callous or greedy

God is Trustworthy
God is not treacherous

God is Careful
God is not reckless

God is Consistent
God is not capricious
God performs neither miracles nor acts of retribution
God neither intervenes nor condemns

God is Guiding
God is an Influential Presence
God is not intrusive or manipulative
God is not demanding or passive/aggressive
God is not arrogant or tyrannical

God is Liberation
God is not enslaving or restrictive or confining
God is not judgmental or condemning

God is a Good Companion and Friend
God is not arrogant or mean or vindictive
God is not retaliatory or punishing

God Acts only out of Love
God Acts only with Love
God Loves Unconditionally and Uncontrollably
God Invites and Welcomes and Includes without exception or qualification
God does not act out of either vengeance or a sense of punishment
God does not provide either vengeance or punishment
God does not act out of either favoritism or exclusion
God does not choose any person over any other person
God does not choose any group of people over any other group of people
God does not eliminate, abandon, or exclude anyone
    for any reason for any length of time

God is Singular and Solitary
There are neither multiple nor opposing divine forces

God is the Creator, Artist, Designer, Engineer, and Programmer
God’s Creation is Designed as a Fractal
God’s Creation Works Chaotically
God’s creation does not work randomly
God is not a dictator, puppet master, control-freak, or mechanic
God is not micro-managing or fixing the universe
God is not experimenting or playing with the universe

God Acts only To Create or To Transform
     or To Be in a Loving Relationship with creation
God does not destroy or abandon

God is Humorous and Funny
God is not a prankster, joker, jester, comedian, clown, or fool

God’s Power is Relational and Persuasive
God’s Power is Subservient to the healthy and dialogical relationship
     God has with creation
God’s Power works through a Shared Vision
God’s power is not unilateral or demanding
God’s power is not definitive of God’s character
        (Bruce Epperly, “Divine Power – Unilateral or Relational?”, May 25, 2010)

God has Limits
God without limits is too small and too thin and too diffuse
God is not omnipotent or omniscient or omnipresent

    God is not omnipotent
    God cannot destroy, control, hate, lie, impose, manipulate, exclude,
        punish, retaliate, judge, condemn, act vindictively or capriciously
    God does not imperil our existence or our humanity (LtQ2, John Shelby Sprong)

    God is neither omniscient nor omnipresent
    God is Always Here with us in the Now
    God Permeates and Imbues our being – our thoughts, emotions,
        choices, and actions – only through our invitation and practice
    God is an Influential Presence only to the extent
        that we make ourselves aware of it and learn to be sensitive to it
    God is In Relationship with us while being deliberately unaware of our future
        and forgivingly dismissive of our past
    God is not in the past or the future
    God cannot intrude in or impose on life
    God does not preplan or predestine the course or end of life

by Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, Indiana where he has served as an Elder and Treasurer and currently enjoys being a member of the choir. He graduated in 1997 with a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University in 2009. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has had articles published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. Doug is married to Carol, a First Grade teacher, and is the father of two sons.
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About Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 4950 East Wabash Avenue, P.O. Box 3125, Terre Haute, IN 47803-0125 (812-877-9959). Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is an open and affirming congregation. Doug is an Elder, has served as Treasurer, enjoys his continuing membership in the choir as the lowest voiced bass and currently is serving as an At-Large member of the Regional Board of the Indiana Disciples of Christ. As a member of the O&A Elders group, he helped write a resolution to change the ordination policy of the Indiana Region. The resolution will be presented at the 2012 Indiana Regional Assembly. He graduated in 2009 with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University and a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University in 1997. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has been published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. In the summer of 2010, Doug became a contributor to this blog: [D]mergent.org

17 thoughts on “GOD IS…

  1. Thank you so much! Love it! My husband and I are preparing for our week directing high school camp in UpperMidwest, and were struggling with a new spin to our first night of worship on the “I am who I am” theme. What a perfect meditation to supplement! Thanks!

    • Laura – two ideas on how to use this article as a meditation and exercise at camp:

      1) Do not hand out copies of the article – not yet. First, use two people, who are very good at reading meditations, to present just the list as a dialogue. One person reading the “God is” statements, the other person reading the “God is not” statements. Present it carefully and let it breathe – do not race to the end.

      2) After the presentation, provide the campers with a copy of the article. Also, supply them with a blank piece of paper and a pencil. Have them draw a line down the middle of the paper. At the top, on the left write “GOD IS” and on the right write “GOD IS NOT”. Read the questions at the top of the article, pausing between each question. Let them have time to work solitarily (15 minutes?). Then, break into small groups – each person in turn is to share one item from their list. This is about listening and sharing, not arguing, not labeling items as “right” or “wrong”. As they hear responses from others, they can edit their own list. Faith is never a strictly personal journey – it is more meaningful and more fruitful in the company of other travelers.

  2. Love it! I quite often challenge my students to define God. Often, they are horrified to find that the God they have believed in isn’t God. So, we go through a period of not believing in God…that is the God who is not…call the Creator, Maintainer, Sustainer of the universe by other names and then redefine God in much the same way you have (only not too many people can express as well as you!) Shalom!

  3. Doug,

    Alanis Morissette wrote the lyrics to “Still” from the film “Dogma.” I find these lyrics an interesting description of the deity.

    I am the harm which you inflict.
    I am your brilliance and frustration.
    I’m the nuclear bombs if they’re to hit.
    I am your immaturity and your indignance.
    I am your misfits and your praised.
    I am your doubt and your conviction.
    I am your charity and your rape.
    I am your grasping and expectation.

    I see you averting your glances.
    I see you cheering on the war.
    I see you ignoring your children,
    And I love you still.
    And I love you still.

    I am your joy and your regret.
    I am your fury and your elation.
    I am your yearning and your sweat.
    I am your faithless and your religion.

    I see you altering history.
    I see you abusing the land.
    I see you, your selective amnesia,
    And I love you still.
    And I love you still.

    I see you averting your glances.
    I see you cheering on the war.
    I see you ignoring your children,
    And I love you still.
    And I love you still.
    I see you altering history.
    I see you abusing the land.
    I see you, your selective amnesia,
    I love you still.
    And I love you still.

    I am your tragedy and your fortune.
    I am your crisis and delight.
    I am your profits and your prophets.
    I am your art, I am your vice.
    I am your death and your decisions.
    I am your passion and your plight.
    I am your sickness and convalescence.
    I am your weapons and your light.

    I see you holding your grudges.
    I see you gunning them down.
    I see you silencing your sisters,
    And I love you still.
    And I love you still.
    I see you lie to your country.
    I see you forcing them out.
    I see you blaming each other,
    And I love you still.
    And I love you still.

    I see you holding your grudges.
    I see you gunning them down.
    I see you silencing your sisters,
    I love you still.
    I love you still.
    I see you lie to your country.
    I see you forcing them out.
    I see you blaming each other.
    I love you still.
    I love you still.
    I see you.

  4. Very interesting. The scriptures say God is Love which there are so many kinds and explanations that it causes the word love to be undefinable. So, there is God. All the good qualities we can think of but, like love, can also cause some pain. I think I would say God is respect. Love is respect also. Both are strong enough to make or break you. Both are feared. Everyone would rather live with love (God) than without it.

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  8. “There will be no peace on Earth until My Son’s Kingdom. I will crush every kingdom now standing and rock the earth off it’s foundation. I Yahweh will destroy every enemy to My throne, and who can stop Me? Who can turn back My anger? No one.”

    Christ Jesus said at Matthew 10:34 “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    While Satan works to maintain “peace on earth” and halt prophecy, mankind is alienated from God. What was prophesied long ago is currently taking place and will continue to until the battle of Armageddon.

    Ezekiel 29:8 “Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says: I am going to bring a sword against you and wipe out man and animal from you.”

    Yes, that means God is angry. 

    Revelation 16:21 “Enormous hailstones, each weighing about 100 pounds, fell from heaven on the people, and they blasphemed God for the plague of hail because that plague was extremely severe.”

    We are currently in the Tribulation and the severity is about to become much worse. If you think things are bad now, you can’t imagine how bad they will become.

    Satan is not the cause of what is occurring in the world via natural disasters, plagues, pestilence, financial crisis and all the rest. It is Yahweh’s will and it comes directly from Him. He is the One in control, and the One whom is nature.

    Psalm 83:18 “May they know that You alone – whose name is Yahweh – are the Most High over all the earth.”

    Calamity will come upon mankind and it will be via Yahweh’s hand. Satan is powerless to stop Him and mankind is powerless to stop Him.

    Ezekiel 28:23 “I will send a plague against her and bloodshed in her streets; the slain will fall within her, while the sword is against her on every side. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

    Yahweh is about to bring full rebellion to Satan’s empire. As hard as he works to try and keep peace, he will not be able to halt the people from rebelling against the governments. There is a reason the job failures and the staggering economy, and the lost homes. They are all designed to culminate against each government of every nation affected by this curse from God. 

    Malachi 1:4 “Though Edom says: “We have been devastated, but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of Hosts says this: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called a wicked country and the people the LORD has cursed forever.”

    Satan will bring the nations back up from ruin for a short while, but they will not hold together. During that period of destruction, the people will curse God and seek their true benefactor that is opposed to Christ and Yahweh – Satan. The Antichrist will then make his appearance. The people will be awed by Satan’s regained powers and his strength to bring peace to this world of people. But it will not last. Yahweh will see to that.

    Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!” 

    All of mankind is cursed except for the remnant. Think. How many people survived the Great Flood? Sodom and Gomorrah? It will not be any different. Those events were precursors to what will occur in these End Times. 

    Mark 11:12 “[ The Barren Fig Tree Is Cursed ] The next day when they came out from Bethany, He was hungry.” 

    Mark 11:21 “Then Peter remembered and said to Him, ” Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed is withered.” 

    Satan’s family tree is barren and was cursed long ago.  Mankind is withering under our Creator’s curse.

    Jeremiah 17:5 “[ Curse and Blessing ] This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes [human] flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD.” 
    Mankind is under a curse and belongs to Satan. It requires effort – action on the part of anyone hearing this wake up call to get out of Satan’s empire. Those that have remained are to receive the plagues just ahead. Everything else has just been foreplay. The worst is just ahead, and it’s all from Yahweh.

    When Satan’s empire totally crumbles out from under him and them as their Antichrist, this is what will happen:

    Ezekiel 33:27 “Tell them this: This is what the Lord GOD says: As surely as I live, those who are in the ruins will fall by the sword, those in the open field I have given to wild animals to be devoured, and those in the strongholds and caves will die by plague.”

    Ezekiel 38:22 “I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed. I will pour out torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone on him, as well as his troops and the many peoples who are with him.”

    Habakkuk 3:5 “Plague goes before Him, and pestilence follows in His steps.” 

    That is the path Yahweh will lead Satan’s followers down.

    Deuteronomy 28:16 “You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.” 

    There will be nowhere to hide.

    For the so-called Christian churches that claim to reveal Yahweh’s Word in truth:

    Revelation 2:23 “I will kill her children with the plague. Then all the churches will know that I am the One who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” 

    They are cursed especially for their lying conduct in reference to Yahweh and Christ. Remember when Yahweh killed the first born males of ancient Egypt? Now He will kill the children of Satan that make up the false churches. 

    1 Chronicles 21:27 “Then the LORD spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.” 

    The only way this will happen is if they repent and accept Yahweh for who He really is – in Truth. 

    Otherwise, those churches professing to be true Christians will go the way of the rest of cursed mankind. 

    Revelation 2:11 “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.”

  9. endtimestruths:

    We truly do welcome all voices.

    Please understand that by posting anonymously, you greatly diminish the seriousness that will be given to your response. Additionally, a search of your WordPress site and your website reveals no personal names. The vast majority of people, who post on Dmergent, plainly reveal their name and location. We do not witness from a stance of fear or secrecy.

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