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God is not a formula

Not Monument Hill, but this is the ad that appears there.

Welcoming guests to Monument as they drive south on I-25, is a billboard declaring tomorrow, May 21, 2011, as “Judgment Day.” A California-based radio ministry ( has rented advertising space on billboards and bus benches all over Colorado Springs and other cities in the United States to share this message.

Harold Camping, leader of Family Radio, came to the date by applying mathematical formulas he says show that the Bible says Judgement Day will happen 7,000 years to the day after the beginning of the flood. According to his calculations, that points to tomorrow night at approximately 6 pm.

As the date approaches, our culture’s fascination with the billboards heightens, as does this opportunity to impugn Christianity. My favorite response to all of the hubbub comes from Adam Hamilton pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. In a recent sermon Hamilton tells the story of an interview in which he was asked about this issue. He replied:

I can most assuredly, almost guarantee you the end of the world will not be that day. And the reason why I can is Jesus said, ‘No one knows the day or the hour, neither do I,’ [see Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36] and I think just to spite them it won’t be that day (Church of the Resurrection Weekly Sermons Podcast, “Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit” 17 April 2011).

While Hamilton made me laugh and I tend to agree with him, this whole thing saddens me. I am so disappointed about the message people are receiving about the character of God.

God is not a formula. God is not the ‘Force’ from Star Wars, nor is God a natural law. The God I know is a being, best known through the person of Jesus Christ. Just as no mathematical formula could predict my next move, I do not believe that God’s activity can be determined through math, reason, or scientific method. After Stephen Hawking wrote that he had proven that there was no need for God to explain creation, one responded that there never was a need for that god, the god of the gaps. If God is a formula we should be listening to the likes of Hawking, who earlier this week stated that there was no heaven, instead of  theologians.

The God that I know is one we can have a relationship with. He loves us very much and wants us all to choose to be with him. The God I know surprised us when he came in the person of Jesus who was crucified and raised from the dead. The God I know has a sense of humor, gets frustrated, loves, and grieves. This is not formula, this is a person. This is God.

May you and I come to know and love God through Jesus Christ, and know of his love for us.

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