Early in the multimedia-based study of Christian theology, “Living the Questions 2.0: An Introduction to Progressive Christianity" (LtQ2) the question is asked, “What is the character of your God?” This question has become an on-going personal reflection on what God is and what God is not. I continually elicit input from others. Regardless of how much personal contemplation is involved or how much input from others is folded into it, this reflection will never be authoritative or definitive or complete. I am not writing a creed.

To use this reflection as a personal or group exercise or meditation; 1) Do not try to discern what I am trying to say or what it means to me. Use it to create a personal introspection, not a critique. 2) During the first complete uninterrupted reading, withhold judgements and evaluations and responses until it is finished, then ask these questions: What was obvious? What was confusing? What was surprising? What was an epiphany? How should the current response be edited? What should be re-worded, rearranged, re-sequenced, deleted, added, or changed in some way? What should be rejected? What should be questioned or examined or requires more contemplation? What should be affirmed? Based on what you include and what you did not include, what does this reveal about your relationship with God?

The only requirement of the exercise is that every “God is” quality (sometimes expressed as more than one statement) must be paired with a “God is not” quality (which, likewise, is sometimes expressed as more than one statement).

Only two assumptions are made. The second assumption is that each individual is in relationship with God and that something of the nature of God can be discerned through that relationship.

The first assumption? God Is.

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God Is God is Only Is God is not was God is not will be

God is Reality God is not imaginary

God Exists God is Important God is not superfluous God is not undeniable God is not inescapable

God is Mystery God is not unknowable – God can be experienced God is not confined or constrained by any list      – including this list God is not completely enclosed or fully defined or fully detailed by any list     – including this list

God is Divine God is not mortal or finite or ordinary

God is Expecting Us to be Divine God is not made in our image God is not anthropomorphic or an action figure

God is Infinite God is not limitless

God is Good and Holy God is not bad or evil

God is Love God is not hate

God is Choices God is not forced options

God is Questions God is not answers

God is Grace God is not spiteful or rejecting or conditional

God is Relationship God is Freedom God is not regulation or regimentation God is not a megalomaniac or needing to be in control

God is Truth God is not a liar

God is Wise God is not foolish

God is Light God is Color God is more than the Spectrum God is not darkness

God is Peace God is not angry or violent or punitive or warring

God is Reconciliation God is not divisive or feuding or a holder of grudges

God is Vibrant God is not inactive or lethargic God is not unresponsive or passive

God is Life God is not death

God is Growth and Maturation and Forward God is not shrinking or regressive or stagnant or stuck God is not infantile or Peter Pan or backward

God is Listening God is not deaf or inattentive

God is Intelligent and Knowledgeable God is not stupid or ignorant

God is Creative and Imaginative God is not destructive or innovation-averse or boring

God is Artistic and Musical God is not unexpressive

God is Always-Inviting and All-Accepting and All-Inclusive God is Welcoming and Hospitable God is not exclusionary or exploitive God is not unwelcoming or inhospitable

God is Ever Present and Ever Engaged God is not absent or unreachable or uninvolved

God is Patient God is not impatient

God is Challenging and Insistent and Relentless God is an Educator encouraging Learning and Questioning, Knowledge and Wisdom God is not stopped or paused or giving up on us God is not uninvolved or uncommunicative God is not a trainer or a score-keeper or an examiner or an inquisitor God is not dismissive or authoritarian

God is Sympathy and Empathy and Caring and Generous God is not petty or insincere or callous or greedy

God is Trustworthy God is not treacherous

God is Careful God is not reckless

God is Consistent God is not capricious God performs neither miracles nor acts of retribution God neither intervenes nor condemns

God is Guiding God is an Influential Presence God is not intrusive or manipulative God is not demanding or passive/aggressive God is not arrogant or tyrannical

God is Liberation God is not enslaving or restrictive or confining God is not judgmental or condemning

God is a Good Companion and Friend God is not arrogant or mean or vindictive God is not retaliatory or punishing

God Acts only out of Love God Acts only with Love God Loves Unconditionally and Uncontrollably God Invites and Welcomes and Includes without exception or qualification God does not act out of either vengeance or a sense of punishment God does not provide either vengeance or punishment God does not act out of either favoritism or exclusion God does not choose any person over any other person God does not choose any group of people over any other group of people God does not eliminate, abandon, or exclude anyone     for any reason for any length of time

God is Singular and Solitary There are neither multiple nor opposing divine forces

God is the Creator, Artist, Designer, Engineer, and Programmer God's Creation is Designed as a Fractal God’s Creation Works Chaotically God’s creation does not work randomly God is not a dictator, puppet master, control-freak, or mechanic God is not micro-managing or fixing the universe God is not experimenting or playing with the universe

God Acts only To Create or To Transform      or To Be in a Loving Relationship with creation God does not destroy or abandon

God is Humorous and Funny God is not a prankster, joker, jester, comedian, clown, or fool

God’s Power is Relational and Persuasive God’s Power is Subservient to the healthy and dialogical relationship      God has with creation God’s Power works through a Shared Vision God’s power is not unilateral or demanding God’s power is not definitive of God’s character         (Bruce Epperly, "Divine Power – Unilateral or Relational?", May 25, 2010)         (http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/2010/05/divine-power-unilateral-or-relational.html)

God has Limits God without limits is too small and too thin and too diffuse God is not omnipotent or omniscient or omnipresent

    God is not omnipotent     God cannot destroy, control, hate, lie, impose, manipulate, exclude,         punish, retaliate, judge, condemn, act vindictively or capriciously     God does not imperil our existence or our humanity (LtQ2, John Shelby Sprong)

    God is neither omniscient nor omnipresent     God is Always Here with us in the Now     God Permeates and Imbues our being – our thoughts, emotions,         choices, and actions – only through our invitation and practice     God is an Influential Presence only to the extent         that we make ourselves aware of it and learn to be sensitive to it     God is In Relationship with us while being deliberately unaware of our future         and forgivingly dismissive of our past     God is not in the past or the future     God cannot intrude in or impose on life     God does not preplan or predestine the course or end of life

by Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, Indiana where he has served as an Elder and Treasurer and currently enjoys being a member of the choir. He graduated in 1997 with a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University in 2009. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has had articles published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. Doug is married to Carol, a First Grade teacher, and is the father of two sons.