In a previous post I introduced the book by British pastor J.B. Phillips “Your God Is Too Small.” For the next several weeks on Tuesdays I will highlight one of the false views of God explained in Phillips’ book. This week’s category is the Grand Old Man:
There is much in our Churches and religious teaching generally that tends to encourage the “old-fashioned” concept. The Bible is read in beautiful but old-fashioned language, as a rule. Our services are often entirely conducted in a form of language that no one uses today. We address God in our prayers in the archaic second person singular — and these prayers themselves often give the impression of being cast in a form that the Grand Old Man can both understand and approve.
Our hymns, with some notable exceptions, often express a Victorian and very rarely a “big enough” idea of God. To appreciate their true value they should be read aloud in cold blood and dissociated from the well loved tunes. At baptism, matrimony, and burial, we continue to use language which ordinary people can hardly understand, but which they feel vaguely is old-fashioned and out of touch with their actual lives. They respect the Grand Old Man and His peculiarities, but they feel no inclination to worship Him as the living God…
It will be necessary, as we shall see in a later chapter, to look back into human history at the actual events which are the foundation of the Christian view of God. But it will be just as necessary to return, armed with the essential historical facts, to the modern world.