R. Kirby Godsey says he wrote “Is God a Christian?” to start a conversation about religious prejudice not to create controversy. This ground-breaking book is bound to do both. He was called an unbelieving infidel at a Baptist convention in November 1996 for writing all persons are embraced by God in his book “When We Talk About God, Let's Be Honest.”
Although Jesus is the central person whose revelation of God changed Godsey's life he believes he cannot and should not speak for another. To bear witness with integrity he must permit his listeners to bear witness to the light by which they live. He warns us not to confuse meeting God with practicing religions. God can be found everywhere. Revelations are about the divinity locked within our humanness.
Godsey believes we can enrich our faith by listening to voices from beyond the boundaries of our own faith. He believes none of us see with absolute clarity as our differing expressions of belief reflect our own personal histories and journeys. Nor do we fully understand the ways of God. Honest doubt and thoughtful skepticism can help to save us from the trivialization of other religions.
He is concerned how in our religious fervor we find ourselves claiming to be certain that God is a Christian or a Muslin. He calls this the plague of certainty and offers seven common threads to weave a sense of community among our diverse faiths. He says every faith can listen and learn from each religion's remarkable story, literature and sacred places. He shows how each faith affirms our presence in the world, offers comfort and guidance with suffering and conflict and instructs us how to develop compassion and hope. Our faith changes how we relate to the world and one another.
Godsey believes more problems are solved by listening than by talking. God is calling us to pick up the pieces, to heal the wounds and meet violence with forgiveness. There is no good violence. No moral high ground will ever be claimed solely by military victories. He says God is not a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Jew. God is above all our gods. God is the ground that makes all our gods possible. There are no perfect religions because there are no perfect religious people. He asks fellow Christians to see the light of Jesus in the faces of their enemies. He asks us to not only overcome violence and replace bombs with bridges but celebrate the people of diverse faith as children of one God. The gospel is not a transaction to make, it is a gift to receive.
Godsey includes an excellent summary of the ways God is known in seven of the world religions - Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism. The chapter is titled “Touching the Faces of God.” He says fundamentalism or religious idolatry is a tragic barrier to creating authentic conversation. God's unconditional embrace transcends all religions.
He says people are no longer citizens of one nation but of the world. We too often appear to identify Christianity with Western supremacy and Islam with Arabic supremacy. Neither the Bible nor the Qur'an provide specific guidelines on the politics of America or the Middle East. Interpreters often substitute their will for God's in the language of faithfulness.
God has not taken up residence only in our own religion. God is the God of all people. We can all be a part of making a new creation in which God speaks to us in many tongues and through many faiths.
God is the spirit and the one light that can bring hope to all faiths. It's about learning to appreciate one another as believers. Godsey's revolutionary book is both inspiring and informative.