Different God – Different People

tio logoGod is different from us. His thoughts, His ways, His perspectives are different from ours. In fact, He is so different that He cannot be known by us unless He chooses to be known. Everything we know about God is because God has chosen to reveal it to us.  What He does reveal is how different He is and that how, by coming to know Him personally, we too become different.  Indeed, we become so different from those without a personal relationship with God that we stand out and often find ourselves in conflict with a secular worldview. What the Church has to offer the world is found in its difference from the world. The world needs the Church but what happens when this difference is eroded by the delusion of sameness?  Simply, the Church then has little or nothing to offer the world that the world does not already have.  Sooner or later, it becomes impotent and irrelevant. Yet, by not fearing its own difference and by having confidence in the difference released through the gospel and the Spirit, the Church can offer wisdom unattainable by any other means or agency to wider society. My passion is that the Church would discover and share its wisdom about people with intellectual disabilities; people who bring the gift of difference. The Church needs to sing a new song. First it needs to learn it. Yet, in reality, the power of people with intellectual disabilities often stuns and/or scares the Church. Practice (finding solutions) is sought without theology (forming a spiritual foundation) and ecclesiology (facing up to what/who Church is for). Do we simply need to re-discover how revolutionary we are?  Perhaps my young daughter Amy (who has Down syndrome) can help? In 1 Corinthians 1.18-2.16 we find embedded a discernible pattern for advancing this different perspective amid the roots of spiritual revolution. There is a strong secular view of things; established over time, respected and creating a body of perceived wisdom. The world sees the message of the Cross as foolishness, as outrageous weakness. Then, a new and different perspective is introduced which has its source in God and its expression in the gospel of Jesus. The Cross is not foolishness but wisdom, not weakness but strength. Next, this new and different perspective confronts the prevailing secular perspectives. The gospel brings an entirely new/different perspective for the secular world to engage with. World perspectives (drawn from past and current philosophical thinking and social convention) are confronted. There is a new way of thinking! Crucially, the Church is the prophetic voice of this new and different perspective. Our calling is to articulate divine perspectives which confront mere human perspectives. We must challenge perspectives that de-value and de-humanise people wherever these are found! Without the biblical, theological and spiritual perspectives the Church can contribute, wider society will, by default, build the future solely on understandings of human strength, intellectual capacity and economic productivity.  Unknowingly, society needs the Church to lead the way by advancing the very different perspective of the Christian God. That’s why Tiō (The Centre for Intellectual Disability Theology and Ministry) exists – to help the church sing a new song! Find out more at www.belfastbiblecollege.com/tio Book now for our Conference 2016: ‘Honouring the Indispensable (1 Cor. 12:22-26)’ on 10-11 June Dr. Ian Dickson Director, Tiō – The Centre for Intellectual Disability Theology and Ministry tio@belfastbiblecollege.com
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One Response to Different God – Different People

  1. Puran Agrawal says:

    I agree with Dr. Dickson that most Christians tend to seek solutions to the problems they face without adequate biblical, theological and ecclesiological reflection. They tend to go along whatever the prevailing non-Christian perspectives are fashionable rather than challenging them, as Paul urged us to do in Romans 12:1-2.

    It, however, came as a great surprise to me to learn that “the power of people with intellectual disabilities often stuns and/or scares the Church” because, though admittedly very limited, this has not been my experience. It would, therefore been great help to me if Dr. Dickson had mentioned some examples of how this happens.

    Throughout my Christian life I have been interested in formulating distinctively Christian perspectives on economic, political, social and personal problems facing individual Christians. Regrettably, however, I have to state that in my experience most Christians I have known simply go along with whatever perspectives are currently fashionable on the problems they are trying to solve. On most economic and political issues, for example, Christians are happy to take positions purely on party-political lines or certain ideological lines they happen to espouse. Some of them even express great surprise when suggested that there can be or needs to be distinctively Christian perspectives.

    One of the reasons for this state of affairs is, as Dr. Dickson suggests, that it is so much easier to choose and follow one of the prevailing perspectives rather engaging in the hard work of “discovering” distinctively Christian perspectives. This is true not only of the “lay” Christians but most academics and Church leaders who write books and articles and/or make public pronouncements.

    I would like to end by thanking Dr. Dickson for making me aware of a serious problem facing people with “intellectual disabilities” and of the existence of TIO, whose work I hope to make myself familiar with.

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