There are two adages that speak of a great truth that is important to all of us. The first comes from George Santana by way of Winston Churchill who said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” The second adage is accredited to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who reminded us, “The only thing that is constant is change”.
As we approach yet another Canada Day, both these sayings become extremely more meaningful. As much as we like to think that little has changed over the years, more than we even know is different. Even the name of the day we celebrate was once called “Dominion” Day. Our national anthem is no longer God Save the Queen and too the words of “O Canada” have been changed more than once. Nothing stays the same, but if we fail to learn from our history that is constantly changing, we will go on making the same mistakes. Albert Einstein is broadly credited with exclaiming “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.
The same becomes so true when we turn ourselves toward thinking about the spiritual realm. I have heard it proclaimed that God is unchanging. I can only assume that a further step in this saying would be to say that God’s ways are also unchanging. I can’t agree with such an assumption. I must also state that “God” is really beyond any human construction. To think any other way is to have made God in our image, which is even contrary to Biblical teaching. Yet, many who believe such are stuck in their image of God.
Science has often been considered an enemy of religion. Only those who cannot accept that science is important to all aspects of our lives and that even the Bible itself is a pre-science document that science has proven the need to change our thinking. The earth is not flat. The sun does not revolve around the earth. We do not live in a three dimensional or level world with heaven above and hell below. And so our thinking has always been changing and so must our understanding of “God”.
However, as our understanding of “God” has evolved (sadly much more than the Church even wants to allow), many will hold a theistic understanding of a God who is all-controlling, handing out blessings and curses depending on our behaviours; determining who gets into heaven and who is destined for heal, are unwilling to accept any change. But change is inevitable, and believe it or not, a changed view of God is also important.
It is okay for us to evolve in our understanding of God. We don’t have to stop believing or having faith. But we do need to stop making God into some kind of super Santa Claus who may or may not grant our wishes. We do need to stop blaming God for creating us as sinful creatures that (at least as Christians) can only be saved by the sacrificing of Jesus on a cross.
Even though it quite likely Victor Hugo in writing Les Miserables was speaking of a theistic God, he pushed our thinking when he said, “To love another person, is to see the face of God”. To allow ourselves to move beyond old images or beliefs and feel the God presence, for me and other Christians fully represented in the man Jesus, but not in him solely. If we don’t change; if we continue with the same old views we are domed; we might as well be insane.