How Big Is Your God?

Photo by Ryan Song on Unsplash.

Our church’s Prime Time group – which is to say, the group for 50s+, but as that includes me, I prefer to think of it as the OAP’s group – invited me to talk about my writing. I was happy to do so and the meeting went very well. I mentioned my novel His Majesty’s Starship, and its alien race, the Rusties. A crucial plot point is that Rustie psychology comes from their being herd animals. I said that while our ancestors were swinging in the trees, theirs were wandering together on the plains.

Afterwards, an elder gent sidled up to me and said, with an apologetic smile, “This may need a longer answer than we have time for, but how does what you said tie with the six-day creation story?”

The Spirit of the Lord came upon me (perhaps) and I answered, simply, that to me the old Earth creation story – evolution, monkey ancestors, the works – gives God so much more glory than the alternative. The idea that to create the dust out of which Adam was made, God first caused a universe full of stars to blaze into and out of existence to create that dust in the first place … Well, it just blows my mind, and that leads me to worship more than a literal Genesis reading ever will.

His smile grew wider and less apologetic. “Okay, not such a long answer after all.”

And then to coffee and cakes.

I stand by my explanation.

Many of us will state theological positions in our writing, overtly or otherwise, and some might well contradict other theological opinions. But, I’ve heard many more “progressive” Christian opinions stated which ultimately are based simply on the notion that God must move with the times. Conversely, I’ve heard many more conservative Christian positions which ultimately come down to the fact that their God is actually rather small, and the alternative is just too challenging to consider. Their views are just wish-fulfilment, shrinking God down to the size of their brain. Neither works for me.

Meanwhile, I recently read David Bennett’s book A War of Loves and Vicky Beeching’s Undivided. Two gay authors tackle the question of homosexuality and come to very different conclusions. I found it very hard to say which is “right” – and so I won’t try. What I will say is that both authors are devoted, Bible-believing Christians who are respectful of scripture and want only to give glory to God.

To quote Thomas Merton:

“... the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.”

If you’re going to challenge orthodoxy then you must improve on that orthodoxy. It must make God (even) bigger and better than the alternative. It profits you nothing to be ideologically spot-on if the God you are thus presenting is smaller than he should be. Don’t drag God down to your own level or to the level society expects of him.

Or, as the Rusties might say, don’t go with the herd.

Ben Jeapes took up writing in the mistaken belief that it would be easier than a real job (it isn’t). Hence, as well as being the author of eight novels and co-author of many more, he has also been a journal editor, book publisher, and technical writer.


  1. Thought-provoking post, Ben.

  2. I agree with what you are saying here, and I have loved that Thomas Merton quote ever sine I discovered it in one of the Northumbrian Celtic daily morning prayer sessions. The thing about realising that God is so big, is that although we individuals are incredibly small, God's love and support are incredibly wide and generous. So many of the myths in the Bible reveal an astonishing understanding and wisdom.

  3. Yes, the rediscovery of the Word by Calvin, Luther & Co. was a bright light for humanity, which still shines. But to interpret inspired myths literally – as they were never intended – has proved a great disservice to Christianity. I like your point that 'If you’re going to challenge orthodoxy then you must improve on that orthodoxy.'

  4. What a wonderful, thought-provoking piece, Ben. I too just read Vicky Beeching's book and found it so gracious and so challenging. Thank you.

  5. Well said, Ben. It's a case of when we think we've arrived in our understanding, we have misunderstood the fact that our brains are too small to understand the whole. All we can do is realise that what we see is a mere reflection of the reality that lies beyond our understanding. Plato's cave and I Corinthians 13:9-13.


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