Hard to Contain

November 21, 2006

“In our pietism, though, we tend to insist that God is primarily Nice. Period. God is Nice and Nicer and Nicest. The chief end of God is to be Nice. I believe in God the Nice. Maker of Niceness. In heaven, we’ll all be Nice. Pilate wasn’t Nice. He was mean, and ‘mean people suck.’ This whole modern Christian litany is so tedious and tiny. Of course, other people—equally foolish—think the solution is to be rude and mean. Yeah, God isn’t nice; He’s rude. But Yahweh is neither Nice or Rude: He is dangerous and unpredictable. He is Trinity. He is Fire, and fire is hard to contain. Sometimes all the advanced firefighting technology gets overcome in a canyon by a storm of flames. Sometimes people freeze next to a tiny flame. Fire’s edges won’t stand still; its borders aren’t easily traced. ‘Our God is a consuming fire.’ God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac came right from the center of flame. As H. A. Williams notes, ‘Whatever God wants in our relationship with Him, it certainly isn’t respectability'” (Douglas Jones, Playing with Knives: God the Dangerous, Credenda Agenda, Volume 16, Issue 3: Thema).