Armstrong: God in a Box

Armstrong: Truth

“...there is something wrong with any spirituality that does not inspire selfless concern for others.” Karen Armstrong


Armstrong writes that some people become so excited when they experience the love of God that they put the God of their understanding into a box where  they believe only they and their group of similar believers have this true religion and relationship. They have  found the answers! Karen Armstrong suggests in The Battle for God, A History of Fundamentalism that especially fundamental groups may confuse mythos (study of the meaning of an event more than the facts) with logus (the rational that relates to facts of the event). When they see or hear other views, they may become more extreme, bitter, and excessive for fear of losing what they have found. 

This situation can be dangerous to their health and to others. They disavow the concept that God can speak in more than one voice, that God can speak to each of us a little differently. They have put God in a box that cannot connect or relate to any other containers. Their box is it, the true belief. They do not see the Christ in their neighbor unless their neighbor believes as they do, has the same experience that they do. They have found the truth, and only they know the word of God. Questioning belief is not an option.

 Sometimes someone from such a  background may come seeking spiritual direction in desperation when this relationship with God and their peers begins no longer to work. Be gentle with them. Go slowly. Keep remembering you are caring for a soul whose expansion and growth has been impeded, a soul which neonatologist might call “small for gestational age.”  We also have so much to learn from them, especially how there is not a box or any container big enough for our God.  

Keep looking for the Christ in them whose light can shine so beautifully and keep praying they will at some time begin to see the Christ in you and others who may be so different from them.

Carol Howard Merritt has written a very practical book, Healing Spiritual Wounds, Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church, which may be helpful in dealing with a spiritual recovery and connecting to a loving God when people come for spiritual direction after being hurt or abandoned by their church.