For years I’ve fretted when I’ve heard someone make the accusation that someone is, “…putting God in a box.” This is one of those problematic things because it’s intertwined with truth. It is possible, for example, for us to exalt man while at the same time dethroning God. And to the extent that we do that, we are putting God into a human box. I’ll discuss this in more depth later, but for now, let’s look at the box God actually is in.
When we speak of a box, what we’re really talking about are limitations. And when we place limitations on God, it might well be said that we are putting Him into a box. But there are limitations concerning God that we ought to consider; some involving us and others involving Him.
One of the sides of the God exists in is, we might say, a moral side. God can’t sin. Now that’s not to say that He can do anything we like and because He’s God, it’s not sin. That’s not what I’m saying at all, and when you hear these sorts of things about Jesus, they should be considered as heresy. What I am saying is that God cannot act in a way that contradicts His nature.
Another side of the box might be considered a logical one. You’ll hear the question, can God create a rock so big that He can’t move it? It’s a trick question designed to prove that it is impossible for God to be without limitations. But God is limited by His own logic. He can’t, for example, make a square circle.
There is another side which is based on epistemology. These limitations, however, are more about us than Him. We were given five senses and it’s through these senses that we experience and interpret our world. I personally contend that our thinking and emotions are a sixth sense of sorts, but even given that, we are limited in what we know and what we can know as human beings. God affirms this when he tells us that our thoughts and ways are not like His thoughts and ways. So our understanding of God is necessarily limited, and as such is in a box. How does the finite know the infinite? How does what we know compare to what God knows? What words exist that can describe to us, in any meaningful way, those things for which we are not equipped to comprehend?
This side of the box can be seen in language also. Someone might quote 1st John and say, “God is love.” But how one defines these three words, “diety”, “being”, and “love”, will have an ultimately limiting effect. And, conversely, the idea expressed by God in this passage is limited to what he meant. We can’t redefine the words and remain true to God, and we can’t remain true to God while redefining his words. So consequently, God is confined by His revelation to us in His holy Word by what He meant. God does not bless any sin for example, no matter how much our culture has embraced it. So for Him to not punish sin, or to be unjust, or to not exhort us to live righteously as He has determined righteousness, would be unloving.
Another side of this box, it might be said, is God’s law. God forbids creating for ourselves a God that is not. We are not given license to create another God under the guise of “all things are possible” with God. We are forbidden to create a god that is more to our liking, or to superimpose onto the one true God revealed to us in scripture any old thing that suits our fancy. In the great falling away that you will be living through, there is a tendency to subject God to the moral whims of our culture, and then to judge Him according to those whims, or to release Him from a supposed box so that He can make the claim that he has subjected Himself to those whims. To do so is severe hubris, and it’s dangerous.
In the final analysis, no matter what our ideas about God are, whether they’re heretical or not, they will always be confined by limitations. Someone might say, God would never send anyone to Hell. But to say such a thing is to put God in a box, on the outside of which is the possibility of Him doing just that. Or someone might say that there are many roads to God. That would be limiting God by not allowing that He has provided only one way.
So the real question is not whether or not we put God in a box, or even whether or not God exists in a box of sorts. The real question concerns our knowledge of God. We must continually ask, is what we think we know about God true? And how do we know if it’s true? We can look at the Pharisees as an example. What they thought was true about God wasn’t. We should look at their lives as an example of how not to be. But to not be like them doesn’t mean that we run into the ditch on the other side of the road. Truth is still truth, and any deviation from truth is a lie no matter how constrained or liberated it feels to us. So what to do?
I submit to you that we are all subject to God’s grace. If we are not deceived, it is only by His grace that we are not. The moment any of us thinks that we have an opportunity for boasting, we should fret. So ultimately, dear children, I’d say to you to not worry so much about whether you have put God in a box, but rather, if you must worry, worry about whether or not you’re in His box. With all of the deception that is now plaguing the Western Civilization in which you are steeped, I’d say that that’s plenty enough to worry about. And, also, I admonish you to pray dear children, as I pray for you and myself also. Pray that by His grace, you will walk a path lighted by His Word and that you will not stray to the left or to the right. Pray for revelation and a heart that can hear the truth, even when it hurts. And always keep in the forefront of your thinking that it is only by His grace that you will spend your lives free from deception.