"I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you!" - Job
Thank God for atheists! Atheists have taught me more about God than any preacher or seminary professor. They have shown me what God is not, and thereby pointed me toward who God is. I credit the books of the so-called “New Atheists” with helping me identify and reject false gods and thereby redirect me to True God. Especially former Christian preachers who became atheists have deepened my Christian faith by pointing out the weaknesses of traditional understandings of God.
My inquiry into God – like my inquiry into the nature of the self – has led me beyond the human conceptions of God to what Christian philosopher Paul Tillich calls “God beyond God.” The God of religion is nothing more than an idea in the mind. It is a construction of the human mind, a mental image. To worship a mental image of God is just as idolatrous as worshiping a graven image, and it is just as much a violation of the first and second commandments.
The God of most theists is an idol. But God is real. The One God that Christian doctrines, icons, scriptures, and words point to is Ultimately Real. But ideas about God are not. We must not mistake the words used to describe God for God to whom they point. There is an old saying: Do not mistake the finger pointing to the moon for the moon itself. We must not mistake doctrine that points to Truth for Truth Itself. Road signs along the spiritual path are not the destination to which they point.
In this chapter I explore those Christian doctrines that point us beyond ideas and bring us into the presence of God. I call them paradoxical pointers – doctrines like the trinity, incarnation, and theodicy – also known as the problem of suffering and evil. When allowed to fulfill their purpose these doctrines bring us into an experience of God. I also explore the ideas of whether True God is personal or impersonal.