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Metaphors on God February 1, 2007

Posted by Cobus in theology.

I’m not going to try and convince you that when talking about God we need to use metaphors, I assume that. Been having a very interesting conversation with a friend over MXit these past few months. She asks the most interesting questions, and we had some great discussions.  Recently the question came on how God decides stuff. Did He decide everything long ago, or does He decide stuff on number 99, at least, that’s how it started out…

The question is actually bigger than that. Is it only God that decides stuff? How about other role players? And can other role players decide stuff that God didn’t decide. I thought about  checking up my Systematic Theology textbook, but never got round to it.

I mentioned the classic metaphor of God as a watchmaker as a starting point. This pictures God as the watchmaker, who made the watch, and now sits and check it out ticking on and on. But neither of us liked that picture. So we started thinking of what other metaphors would describe the way we believe God works better. How about a gardener? Of the headmaster of a school? And a few others.

Then yesterday, as I was walking back from class, a image came to mind that I kind of liked. God is the orchestra conductor. He is the one that indicates that something should be louder of slower, or more flowing. That the violins should start playing at this exact point or whatever. But just because the conductor shows something, doesn’t mean it will happen. The cello’s can decide that soft isn’t really doing it for them at the moment, they want to play loud, and it might even sound beautiful to them, but can ruin the music.

But it’s not just in a bad way. Also, every musician comes with their own abilities and talents, and though two violins may follow the conductor 100%, they will still play different, the will look different when they play, and they will approach music in a different manner. The one will approach it as a game, the other as a serious business, and still another as a mystical experience. But all of them are following the conductor.

Sometimes some musicians will believe that they are following the conducter, when they are actually misunderstanding, simply because they don’t know the conductor well enough. It take some time getting used to a conductor.

So, the conductor make some decisions, but so does every musician. Everything good doesn’t neccesarily exist because the conductor pointed it out. But if the conductor isn’t followed, you have chaos.

What are some of the metaphors you use to describe God better to yourself?



1. Annemarie - February 1, 2007

Hey Cobus.

Like this one. Makes a lot of sense =>

It’s true that everyone really does play a role. Each in our very own way.

I think if God didn’t want us to make our own decisions, he wouldn’t have given us our own CPU (the brain). God didn’t create us as robots. That’s a great thought.

Thx a lot for everything. 🙂

2. Bernardvw - February 4, 2007

I gave it a bit of thought, and came up with this. God is like a chess grandmaster. Sometimes he sets up something, just for one pawn or something to spoil everything. Take for example, god had a perfect plan with the world, but for Adam and Eve. But like every grandmaster, he knows precisely whats going on on the board, and he can predict his oponents'(and sometimes it means us) moves. And imagine we are the oponents. sometimes we play our game, and it goes wrong for him, without we noticing it. But sometimes we do the right thing. I think everybody that plays chess can think of a few more. And yes, I will admit that a chess grandmaster isn’t the perfect metaphor, but my personal opinion is that there can’t be a perfect metaphor for God

3. cobus - February 5, 2007

There is nothing like a perfect metaphor on God. There is nothing like a perfect metaphor. A metaphor just help us to get a better idea of God, or at least on one aspect of God, and won’t fit with everything.

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