The Weightlessness of God

Quote taken from God in The Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams by David F. Wells.

It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life. Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in God’s existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers’ sweet fog of flattery and lies. That is weightlessness. It is a condition we have assigned him after having nudged him out to the periphery of our secularized life. His truth is no longer welcome in our public discourse. The engine of modernity rumbles on, and he is but a speck in its path….

Moreover, when God becomes weightless, as I believe he is so often today, we lose the doctrinal signals that might otherwise warn us that some profound change has taken place – the sorts of signals that once warned of the threat of heresy. Too often in Our Time, there is only peace and quiet. The traditional doctrine of God remains entirely intact while its saliency vanishes. The doctrine of God remains entirely affirmed liturgically, and in every other way held to be inviolable – but it no longer has the power to shape and to summon that it has had in previous ages. Among those claiming to be born-again Christians today, for example, only 25 percent could be said to be committed Christians by even modest tests, such as regularity in church attendance and at personal prayer. Presumably most of the remaining 75 percent would not contest the validity of doctrinal beliefs, but neither do they seem to accord these beliefs any power to affect their behavior….Because the doctrine is professed perhaps even routinely in creed or confession, it seems as if all is well. But it is like a house that gives no outward signs of decay even though termites have rendered it structurally unsound….

A God with whom we are on such easy terms and whose reality is little different from our own – a God who is merely there to satisfy our needs – has no real authority to compel and will soon begin to bore us. This is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is scarcely the God of the philosophers, and certainly not the God of Jesus Christ.

It is one of the overarching truths of our time that we are preoccupied with the mundane and fascinated by the meaningless. In a context such as this the true worth of God will never be felt and even our most passionate songs will be light as a feather. We must reclaim a sense of the Divine by pursuing the lofty truth of the Weighty God.


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