Richard Rohr on the Common Depiction of God

My gears have been grinding over this passage for a couple of months now. From The Naked Now: Learning to See As the Mystics See (Kindle ed; chap 10, section “The Two Heels of a Christian Achilles”):

This all-or-nothing thinking is a cancer at the heart of our preached message, and it takes two major forms: 

1. The individual Christian is told to love unconditionally, but the God who commands this is depicted as having a very conditional and quite exclusive love himself or herself! The believer is told to love his enemies, but “God” clearly does not; in fact, God punishes them for all eternity. This stifles and paralyzes many believers at the conscious or unconscious level, and it should. Such a message will not save the world and surely will not produce many great or loving people. The many loving Christians I have met in my life usually have had at least one unconditionally loving parent or friend along the way, and God was then able to second the motion. There are remarkable exceptions to this, however. I have met a few humanly unloved people whose need for divine love was so great that they surrendered to it utterly. The Gospel worked for them. 

2. Under the message that most of us have heard, we end up being more loving than God, and then not taking God very seriously. Even my less-than-saintly friends, the ordinary Joes on the block, would usually give a guy a break, overlook some mistakes, and even on their worst days would not imagine torturing people who do not like them, worship them, or believe in them. “God” ends up looking rather petty, needy, narcissistic, and easily offended. God’s offended justice is clearly much stronger than God’s mercy, it seems. Why would anyone trust or love such a God, or want to be alone with Him or Her? Much less spend eternity with such a Being? I wouldn’t. We must come to recognize that this perspective, conscious or unconscious, is at the basis of much agnosticism and atheism in the West today.

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