frgavin on October 29th, 2015

Who Put God In A Box?

Fr. Dale Matson

The Word of God is both a mirror and a light. It reveals our inner nature to us, both saint and sinner. What I was impressed with in writing a devotional was my own lack of humility when in God’s presence and how often I fall short of His call to live a pure and holy life.

I am also impressed with how God has been turned into a charitable friend by our modern churches. We do have a friend in Jesus but He is so much more than that. He is also the transfigured and ascended Christ, Who is also God. He is also the Christ who was a co-creator with the Father. In the 1979 BCP lectionary readings, we see the compassionate human Christ but the righteous Christ Who threw the money changers out of the temple is downplayed. Christ demands that we follow Him, yoked to His pain, joy and holiness. We will all drink from His cup of suffering until we put on immortality.

One cannot walk away from the experience of writing a Lectio Divina format devotional without being bathed in the light of Scripture. What has been missing for me is the obvious Divine aspect of Christ, the moment-by-moment presence of God the Holy Spirit and fear of the Father. I think the 1928 Book of Common Prayer gives us a much fuller understanding of God than the 1979 BCP.

Much of the 1928 prayer book is driven by a traditional catechism with questions like this. “What is thy duty toward God?” “My duty toward God is to believe in him and fear him…life.” The 1979 prayer book asks, “What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?” “God is love”. He is a loving and gracious God but to only portray Him in this way is a form of idolatry and paves the way for a false Christology that deemphasizes God’s call to Holiness.

My questions would be, “Who is God?” “Is God only love?” “Is he not also a jealous, holy, sovereign and righteous God?” “Who is man?” “Is he created in God’s image but also contaminated with original sin. “Do all humans and all of corrupted creation need a savior?”

In the 1979 prayer book, human nature is misrepresented. “What does it mean to be created in the image of God?” It means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and God.” What is described is human existence before the fall. There is no mention of the fall, original sin and the corruption of all creation. While the 1979 prayer book emphasizes free will and choices (freedom), the 1928 prayer book describes in detail our duty (responsibilities) to neighbor including “…to do my duty in that state of life unto which is shall please God to call me.”

When a church manipulates belief through the selective use of lectionary Scripture, then it is no different than Satan’s three temptations of Christ with the selective use of Scripture. What Scripture is selected for the lectionary lessons and how it is selected reflects the underlying theology of those who select it. The Underground Pewster has had several examples posted on his blog over the years, where Scripture readings are broken up to avoid certain passages. (

It is TEC leadership that put “God in a box” by overemphasizing one aspect of His being. In so doing, they also let man out of the box, so to speak. We are called to “…do our duty.” We are free but we have constraints and boundaries, duties and responsibilities. Good theology is God centered. Theology that is man centered makes God in the image of an idealized man. When man is god, the material earth becomes his kingdom and it is more important to save the earth that humans may “flourish” than to save souls for the Kingdom of God.

Father Dale is an Anglican Priest, a Retired Licensed Plumber and Heavy Equipment Operator and Psychologist. He resides with his wife Sharon in Fresno California and is a Priest at St. James Anglican Cathedral. He is an Emeritus Faculty member of Fresno Pacific University and has authored 12 books

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.