Easter 2020: Is a quieter god in control?

Sunday April 12 2020

 

By Alan Tacca

I have observed for some time that Christian faith is in trouble. And the greatest danger to Christianity may not be other faiths, or secularism, but (the excess of) Christianity itself.
When you explore the Greco-Judaic development of the concept of God, you quickly see God as an evolving deity.
To the intelligent believer, God makes subtle changes to his identity, his character and his values in the different historical and cultural contexts where he is worshipped.

To the intelligent non-believer, civilisation invented and constantly redefines this God. His features are shifting cultural fictions.
Naturally, in some societies, or some religious traditions, these changes may be slower than in other societies. But there are changes happening all the same.
What I noticed was that while the main Christian traditions were shaping a kinder and increasingly tolerant God with less magical power, an assortment of revivalist movements and cult leaders describing themselves as Born Again or Pentecostal were peddling a more primitive deity with magical powers that verged on the comical.
So you had a God who was not dramatically effective, but was preserved in ritual and tradition. And you had another God who was exciting, with a pack of colossal power virtually at the command of the revivalist cult leader.

If the first God looked dull and limited, He was more plausible. The more exciting God looked ridiculously pretentious.
The myth of Jesus’ resurrection and his redemptive power as a human sacrifice only become relevant because God did not have the power to re-fabricate man into a creature that had no capacity to sin.
The horrific purge – the divine genocide – of Noah’s day had failed. Sin had multiplied again.

Jesus as a human sacrifice was another attempt.
This weekend is the Easter festival. As 2019 clocked out for 2020 AD, the Christian enemies of Christianity – those who exaggerate God’s power and claim special prophetic access to that power – occupied our sports stadia and other public spaces and bombarded the country with their voices. With their blessings, 2020 would be a year of great positive things; wondrous prosperity… magical healing… ordinary miracles… permanent miracles…
Well, this Easter, their churches and our sports stadia look as empty as their prophecies.

For a few weeks, it seems God has been restored to His modest 21 Century proportions.
Only the very brave ‘prophets’ – the truly shameless – are twisting their earlier proclamations to fit in their “I told you” self-promotion frames.
However, we must not be deluded. Their churches will fill again. The familiar lies will be peddled again. Some will even claim that because they were on their knees throughout the lockdown, they drove off a demon called Covid-19. But it would be a handsome harvest if sanity redeems just one lost sheep in every 10 gullible followers.
That single sheep is probably using the current social distancing to ask questions they did not ask before.
For instance, does the 21 Century God actually want to be (worshipped) like an ancient king, or to be (understood) like a modern democrat? What if God in the 21 Century prefers the relative quiet of the believer’s sitting-room to the wild hysterics of some churches?

With this sheep in command, a multi-channel television system delivers a field of new prophets and mentors different from his pastor, who increasingly sounds like a desperate hostage hunter than a wise spiritual mentor.
In his relative seclusion on Friday nights, instead of clapping and screaming “Fire…fire…” like a voodoo zombie, our sheep might discover the beauty of deep thought and meditation. Not necessarily a Buddhist thing.
Perhaps, after all, he does not really need a fake miracle-packed God this Easter; nor his (former?) pastor.
He is beginning to see a different kind of God. In a strange way, the lockdown could be slowly liberating him.

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Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
altaccaone@gmail.com