“The God I worship would never …”
How many times have you heard a sentence start that way?
When we say such things we are in danger of casting a golden calf.
The way that noun phrase is constructed “The God [that] I worship” makes my worship of God essential to the definition of who God is. God’s identity is determined by my act of worship. Without me, the word “God” is ambiguous and undetermined. It could be just any god.
If we are identifying God as God because it is the god that we find worthy of worship, then aren’t we putting ourselves in the seat of judgment over God? It says the highest authority we recognize when it comes to describing God is ourselves. It places our ego above the throne of God.
We have a simple fix for this problem, though. If we need to differentiate the God we worship from all the pseudo-gods out there, we can refer to God in ways that make it clear that God is God and we are not.
“The God revealed in Scripture …”
“The Triune God …”
“The God attested to in the ecumenical creeds …”
You can probably think of better phrases than these, but all of these at least remove the descriptor of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that suggests my personal approval is a part of God’s identity.
If we still wish to make it clear that we are among those who worship God, we can put that in a non-essential relative clause:
“The God revealed in Scripture, who I worship, would never …”
Here God is a specific God whose identity is independent of my worship. God’s identity does not require our worship. We could drop the clause about ourselves, and God would remain the same God.
If you find this all getting too worked up about words and grammar, please forgive me. I’m an English major and writing teacher. I find words important. (Even when my posts are plagued with typos.)