Don’t Worry About Whether You’ve Put God In A Box, But Rather Whether You’re In His “Box”
For years I’ve fretted when I’ve heard anyone make the charge that someone is attempting to “put God in a box.” That never sat well with me. It’s one of those problematic things because it’s wrong-headed while at the same time intertwined with some truth. It is possible, for example, to put God in a human box. One way of doing this is by exalting Man while dethroning God. God is turned into what we, as Man, wish he was. We put him into a nice package that is more palatable to our fleshy tastes. To the extent that we do this, we are putting him into a human-sized box. And then when we put him into this box, we accuse anyone who disagrees with our new packaging of wanting to put God in a box themselves. I’ll discuss this in more depth later, but for now, let’s consider the fact that God actually is in a box. Furthermore, He made the box himself.
When we speak of a box, what we’re really talking about are limitations. When we place limitations on God based on our own opinions, for example, it might be truthfully said that we are putting him into a box. But there really are limitations concerning God that we ought to consider, some involving us, and others involving him.
One of the sides of the box within which God actually does exist is, we might say, a moral side. God can’t sin. I’ve heard the claim made that God can do as He likes and it isn’t considered to be sin because He’s God. That’s not what I’m saying at all, and when you hear these sorts of things about Jesus you should consider them as heresy. What I am saying is that God cannot act in a way that contradicts His nature. That’s one side of the box, and it consists of one of His attributes.
Another side 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 actually is limited by His own logic. He can’t, for example, make a square circle.
*A possible third side could be based on epistemology. These limitations, however, are more about us than God. We were given five senses, and it’s through these senses that we experience and interpret our world and our God. 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 by our cognitive and sensory capabilities. How does the finite grasp 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? Epistemology becomes another side of the box then. It exists because he has revealed to us what he wants us to know about himself in words that we are capable of comprehending.
The forth side of this box, it might be said, is God’s law. And like the epistemological side, it involves us more than God. God forbids creating for ourselves a god that is not. We are not given license to create another god under the guise that “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 by 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. The current zeitgeist charges us to release God from the supposed box us “religious” folks have put him in so that He can be what their whims dictate that He ought to be.
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 putting God in a box that excludes the possibility that he only provided one way. We should always take God at His word, but in so doing, you can expect charges that you are putting him in a box. You can take comfort, however, that often times the box you’re putting him in is one of his own making.
So the real question is not whether or not God is in some kind of 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 was not. So it naturally followed then that what they thought was true about themselves was not. They gave us examples of how easy it is to be misguided and deceived when we are proud, arrogant and self-righteous. But to not be like them doesn’t mean that we should run into the ditch on the other side of the road and embrace prideful and arrogant lawlessness. Truth is still truth, and any deviation from truth is a lie no matter how constrained or liberating 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 for you to not worry so much about whether you’ve put God in a box, but rather, if you must worry, worry about whether or not you’re actually in His box. With all of the deception that is now plaguing our 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 us 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. You ought to pray for revelation and a heart that can hear the truth, even when that truth 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.