Fragile Holiness

Towards the end of Philip Pullman's novel The Amber Spyglass, God dies. Not Yahweh, creator of the Universe--but Pullman's fictional portrayal of God, otherwise known as "the Authority." In Pullman's fictional world, the Authority is a charlatan--a fake, a liar--the first born of all the angels who decieved the other angels into thinking he created them. But the Authority grows old and feeble, and by the end of the book is locked in a crystal casket for sake keeping. He is so fragile that when the casket breaks, and a gentle breeze blows over the Authority, he disintegrates into dust, and is blown away.

Pullman's potrayal of God has been controversial, to say the least. But I wonder if he's on to something. Christians somestimes treat God as if he is fragile--that the slightest hint of sin is a danger to him.

Last year, I reported for Christianity Today about on a Minnesota group called the “Ushers of the Eucharist,” who sought to “protect the Eucharist” by blocking those who support gay rights from receiving communion. The group believed that their bishop had refused to safeguard the eucharist from sinners, and so took matters in their own hands.

The implication was that Jesus, who spent his whole earthly in close proximity to sinners, now needed to be protected from them.

But when we believe that God is fragile, that holiness will be blown away by the slightest hint of sin, we stop believing in grace.

“We are scared to death of grace,” Mike Yaconelli said in an interview about a year before his death. “We are worried that it is going to be abused or misused. And of course, we only worry about that after we are in. And then we decide to help God by becoming grace monitors and grace police and by saying, ‘God’s really busy and he has got a lot to do, so we will make sure that nobody else gets in.’ ”

I refuse to believe in a fragile God.

A fragile God could not endure the cross. A fragile God cannot save us. A fragile God is not the God of the bible or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


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