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God is a Verb – Not a Noun

April 20, 2015

We humans have all along attempted to describe or explain God with words. Yet God is beyond description beyond explanation, beyond words. Words come from our own human experience and we apply to God those words that reflect the highest and best attributes that we have experienced as humans. Words like justice and compassion and love. It is interesting that in our stories we also use words that are parts of our own human bodies and behavior. We speak of God’s hands and face and voice. We speak of his anger. We speak of his love. We describe God in the beginning as the creator of the Earth and of all living things. Even though we know that they are inadequate, these human words are all we have.

But our current understanding of the universe is that it’s no longer something that was created some time ago for us humans to dominate and use. We now know that the process of creation that started 13.8 billion years ago is a process of continuing evolution, a process of constant creation, of birth and death of stars and galaxies, of evolution of life. And at this moment of the evolutionary process, we find ourselves as the present living inheritors of a mind boggling list of ancestors who lived and died in their time. These include dinosaurs and fish of eons past, all the way back to the early one-celled forms of life. So we are related to ALL of life. Even chimpanzees, bees, whales, cucumbers, oak trees, and amoebas, to name just a few. Even the atoms within us were all created by the death of past stars as they exploded. We humans are quite literally the stuff of stars.

So to describe this constantly changing universe of ours as a process of constant creation, we need to think of God in a much more active role than as a being who set it all in motion 13.8 billion years ago and is now watching it happen and intervening at times. Instead we can now say that God is in the creativity itself. Or that the creativity is in all ways pointing us to God. Or that the Reality that we observe as a constantly changing universe is pointing us to God. But we are still using human words, and God is always more than these words.

So we fall back on those nouns that we experience as humans and apply to God: creativity, reality, or more personal words like compassion, justice, and love as our descriptors of God. But LOVE IS ALSO A VERB – a verb that can include all that creativity and evolution with its birth and death as well as all the relationships in all of life.

God is love – a verb!  And recalling my 8th Grade grammar class, it is an active verb in the present tense, applying to the entire universe. And when we speak of that spark of God within each of us – that love of God within us – love becomes an imperative verb – a command to each one of us!  Jesus gave us the example of what that means. That command becomes, “Wash More Feet.” That’s when God becomes real.

God is a verb!

Loren Bullock
April 19, 2015

[Note: This statement that God is a Verb is not original with me.  I first read it in the writings of Bishop John Shelby Spong, where it resonated with my thinking. As Bishop Spong suggests, all our human words about God, our liturgies, our creeds, our hymns and doctrines are all pointing to God.  In our religions, however, they are commonly accepted as defining God, even becoming synonyms for God.  When this happens, the words themselves then become idols.]


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