The Trappist monk and prolific Catholic author Thomas Merton once wrote: "God must be allowed the right to speak unpredictably." One of the marks of idolatry is our propensity to put God in a box. It is an old and dangerous practice that gets us into trouble and, even worse, often brings untold suffering and havoc into the world. Anne Robertson, a United Methodist minister and regular columnist for Zion's Herald, a national publication, tackles this subject in this wide-ranging and thought-provoking paperback. She states:
"This book is an invitation to recognize our own limitations, to remember that God is God and we are not. Even as we celebrate our own particular experience of God, we must remain open to the fact that God is larger than any human experience or understanding. In the metaphor of this book, we must struggle to keep the lid off of our God-box, trusting that our understanding and experience of God are true but limited. To close the lid, to say nothing more can be said or known about God than what we already have affirmed, is pride at its beginning and idolatry at its end. When we close the lid, very literally all hell breaks loose."
Robertson counts the many ways we try to keep God in a box and delude ourselves into believing that we have the truth and others have missed the point. One egregious error is to limit the images of God in our repertoire of faith. Robertson suggests that we open up to new ones such as God is like a flashlight or God is like a bar of soap.
It's also dangerous when we make the Bible into our God-box and refuse to acknowledge that the Holy One can speak in our contemporary world or in the scriptures of other religions. Robertson believes that a lot of needless pain and harm has been spread by judging others and closing them off from the grace of God. She looks at some scripture passages that address the question of salvation and concludes that God is bigger than our puny ideas and our preconceived notions: "We can't trap God in a single ideology, social agenda, or political platform."
The key thing for Christians to remember is that Jesus blew the top off of all of our God-boxes and things will never be the same again. He called his followers to reverence the Mystery of God and the marvels of grace that make the faith journey such an amazing adventure.