Do we need God?

Working at a business school, I get the opportunity to pick up out-of-date textbooks for free  from time-to-time. I was reading my newest introductory marketing textbook earlier this week when I was reminded of some basic marketing concepts and assumptions.

At its base, marketing is process by which people create and exchange products that satisfy felt needs.

When a need is not satisfied, a person will do one of two things — look for an object that will satisfy it or try to reduce the need. People in industrial societies may try to find or develop objects that will satisfy their desires. People in less-developed societies may try to reduce their desires and satisfy them with what is available.

As I was reading the book, I thought of Augustine’s famous line that we are restless until we find our rest in God. If Augustine is correct about the need — a human need for communion with God — then my book seems to suggest that people will respond to this need in a few different ways.

They might seek God, but they may be prone to substitute something else for God if the cost of seeking God is too high. They will be satisfied with cut-rate products that are cheap and convenient over top-shelf products that are costly. Dietrich Bonhoeffer may have said we need costly grace, but cheap grace still has a big audience.

People might also try to reduce their felt need for God by various means. You can numb the pang. You can deny the need exists. You can learn to get around with pain.

This kind of thinking quickly takes us away from theological thinking. Marketing conceives of human beings as a bundle of needs and — as I did above — reduces God to a product that can satisfy those needs. This strikes me as dangerous territory for Christians, but given the world we live in, I would propose — at least as a topic for further discussion — that learning how our culture thinks and talks about human beings is necessary for the church if it wishes to engage with the world with the good news.

 

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8 thoughts on “Do we need God?

  1. Peter Rollins talks a lot about God as a commodity in his book Pyro Theology. The church has to move past selling people another “fix your problems through this thing” God and move into areas we are uncomfortable with such as spiritual formation. It’s stuff not sold in curriculum kits. I told someone one time that a pastor needs to be someone who helps their congregation to become theologians so that they can connect the dots in their everyday lives to what God is doing in the world around them.

  2. Supply and demand are what I remember from marketing class. The first rule.

    Persons that seek God come for a variety of reasons.
    Those raised outside the church have a very different reasons than those raised in the church.
    If you are raised in the church it is a way a life.
    Persons raised outside the church have some idea God exists and in the west a very elementary education of who God is in Christ learned in Sunday School.
    We have our children baptized because we think it is the right thing to do. We call the clergy when someone is hospitalized, on their death bed or for funerals. It is what everyone does.
    Some start asking questions because of a death, divorce, addiction, or when they finally realize they are not as in control as they once thought.
    Some come for the handouts. Some come to socialize,.Some come to learn and some want to do charity work and have no desire to learn.

    The single reason I have heard as to why younger people leave the church is because no one could answer their questions or the answers they got where not sufficient. When they wanted to know the why’s no one could or no one would take the time to explain. .
    I have a feeling those asked simply did not know.
    The supply did not satisfy the demand

    Some people outside the church think the clergy are like used car salesman. All they want is your money.
    The UMC, a church once know for their zeal for Christ , is commonly thought of as a bunch of radicals.
    In the last year I was told Methodists where nothing but a bunch of communists.
    The RCC. has always been looked at with suspicion most likely due to the Reformation.
    All the above are not without basis.

  3. You seem to be focused on church growth.
    Start a day care center if your church does not offer one.
    Then your church will grow

      1. Understood.
        I agree with .”….reduces God to a product that can satisfy those needs.”
        I don’t think it’s either/or.
        By good works God is seen.

  4. Sad but true that many fail to find God in church, so they try to find God in vague philosophies or possessions. Many are trying to reduce their need for God because the God they perceive seems to demand more than they are willing to give. They know they are settling for a cheaper substitute, but are buying it anyway.

    1. I am sot so sure about that.
      The non-churched may simply not like the god thy have learned about.
      Maybe the christian community is doing a poor job teaching about God.
      The god of today either saves everybody and everything is acceptable or something to fear. A god with too many laws.
      Both do not make sense and both are wrong.

    2. Man demands justice, restitution and penalty for crimes committed.
      Man demands law and set srules in their homes, community and workplace.
      Man denies God the right to do any of the above without complaint.

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