Quest for the Living God (#7/50)

This dense, slow-going read was totally worth the time it took to wade through! The student in me wanted desperately to get out color-coded highlighters and sticky notes to start outlining a research paper.

The one major criticism I have is that the last chapter on the Trinity could have been cut for time. Not that it wasn’t interesting on its own (assuming you enjoy delving into discussion of the nebulous concept of “three persons, one God”), but Johnson’s linking the chapter’s thesis to the rest of the book didn’t quite fit for me. The rest of the book, however, was academic yet relatable and engaging, and so very, very relevant to our current politically-charged, religiously-divisive culture.

Title – Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God

Author – Elizabeth A. Johnson

Page count – 228

This book is divided into ten chapters: the first being an introduction to the book’s thesis and any necessary foundational/background information, followed by chapters on how people discover and connect to God in various ways (“God” in both the Judeo-Christian sense and as a broader concept of Creator/Divine Being). The chapters cover the ideas of God as Mystery, the God of Compassion who relates to suffering and impoverished people, the feminine (and, yes, feminist) experience of God, the God of the racially-marginalized, the God in Latina/o theology, God as related to religious plurality (Whose God is the “True God”?), and the God of the natural world. (Plus the chapter on the Trinity…again, interesting, but did not seem relevant here.)

This was another book I had a hard time picking just one favorite quote/excerpt from. Lots of dog-eared pages! The ones I chose to highlight here are from the chapter on religious pluralism (Who has the “correct” idea of who/what God is? And why do we cling to the notion that there is only one correct idea?). Regarding faiths that are different from our own: we tend to fear what we don’t understand. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Because, as Yoda said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

“Holding our truth as absolutely true does not mean we have to consider ourselves in possession of all the truth worth having…What would faith be like if we acknowledged the image of God in another, whose truth is not our truth? …Those who are confident in their faith are not threatened but enlarged by the different ways of others.” (pp 177-179)

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