What Are Some Accommodations God Might Be Making Today? (podcast)
Greg talks about God’s accommodations.
Dan Kent: Charlotte has a question about a God who makes concessions, but I think she means accommodations. I think those are different things. She says, “My question today…” and I love that she says “today.” Like today this is my question. Tomorrow I don’t know what it will be. So her question today is regarding the accommodations that God makes, exemplified in the Old Testament toward many, out of His patience, patience with their worldview at the time, even when it painted false understandings of God’s true nature. What she’s wondering is, “what do you think are some of those accommodations that God is making for us today in our current context and do you see any specific ones emerging that the church may be beginning to see as accommodations for the first time?” Or concessions. She says concessions. I would have to think that is a bad choice of words.
Greg Boyd: Well, they’re very closely related. I get the gist of what she’s actually saying. Thanks, Charlotte, appreciate that.
I guess maybe my initial answer, and I’m not entirely sure I’m answering your questions, but whenever we have false conceptions of God, that God allows us to have, He’s accommodating us. And He’s working with us, always pulling us in the direction of truth, but there’s an accommodation there. He doesn’t lobotomize our brains so we have true thoughts. I don’t know if He ever does that. So, yeah, God’s accommodating all the time. And so the thing is, even though we have the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, it doesn’t mean that all of our understandings of God are perfectly Christlike. I’ve met Christians who believe in Jesus and would even say, yes, Jesus is the definitive revelation of God, and that the cross is the definitive revelation of God, but nevertheless, once they get inside the brain, they have conceptions of God that are very un-Christlike. God doesn’t force that out of them. You know, a picture of God who damns the majority of people to eternal hell just because He can do it, and He says that glorifies Him. I think that’s a hideous picture of God—He decrees who’s going to go to hell and for His glory. But God doesn’t force them to change that. So I think God’s still working with them, God’s still using them, as much as possible. So yeah, I think God’s accommodating all over the place here.
Dan: I think the danger with answering this question, it really ends up being no different than just asking which theologies or which behaviors do you disagree with or do you think are ungodly? And I think we all have to do that, because we’re all trying to discern what’s the godly way to live, and so forth. But this type of question, the danger here is that it can be sort of a way of justifying judging others, and kind of having this divine self-righteousness as we judge other people, saying, “God sure is accommodating them!”
Greg: Judgment is never in place. We have to always be mindful how much God’s accommodating me. God still uses me. If I remain aware of just how far from perfection I am, that God still has to accommodate, the last thing I’m going to do is to judge somebody else. So that’s a very important point.
The church is now wrestling with the whole thing of—no different when you’re in Africa, polygamous families, the church has to decide, what’s more godly, accepting polygamy here, for the time being at least, or calling these families to split apart, which is going to mean kids without parents and leave women on the streets and all the rest. So it’s very much the position that God is in, in the Old Testament, where God had to accommodate, as an institution, divorce, polygamy, and all the rest. Because it was the lesser of two evils. So I think the church has been in the same process now. As gay marriage is legal, and they have families coming to church that have kids, and whatever. Whatever you think about how that fits into the Bible, even if you hold that as not ideal—God’s ideal was always heterosexual—but this is something—do you think it is wise to split up families and leave kids who were adopted into this family and now without two parents? These are serious questions that we have to ask. As we do it, it’s so important that we do it not from the position of the top, but from the position of the bottom. It’s kind of been a mantra of mine for the last year. But I think the church community is to be a community that—most communities of the world meet at the top, with some claim to themselves, some bragging rights. We are the people who do this as opposed to people who do that. Well, in fact, if we’re supposed to be looking at the two by four in our own eye before we start to look at the speck in someone else’s eye, if that’s true, then we have to be a people who meet at the bottom. Where we all confess that we are the worst of sinners and no one’s interested in a stupid contest of who’s more broken that who else. So we’re all broken, and so now we have to, from that perspective, ask the question, what as a church do we accommodate and what do we push back on, how do we do that, all those kind of complex questions.
Very good question, Charlotte. Thanks for asking it.