Reinventing God in the postmodern age

JP: Albert Mohler, Jr reviews and critiques The Plausible God: Secular Reflections on Liberal Jewish Theology and warns of the dangers of postmodern thought!

Albert Mohler, Jr: New God or No God? The Peril of Making God Plausible


What kind of god would be plausible in this postmodern age? Taken by itself, that question represents the great divide between those who believe in the God of the Bible and those who see the need to reinvent a deity more acceptable to the modern mind.

After all, the answer to that question would reveal a great deal about the postmodern mind, and nothing about God himself. Unless, that is, you believe that God is merely a philosophical concept, and not the self-existent, self-defining God of the Bible.

the “God” of much popular belief is hardly more theistic. “With all the particulars left unspecified,” Silver asserts, “our public theism is probably a riot of equivocations in which there are many new-God beliefs among the rioters.”

God is reduced to “deep feelings, fundamental values, basic attitudes, and humane hopes.” Many modern people, including both Jews and many who identify as Christians, have, as Rabbi Jonathan Gerard related, “merely lost faith in an older and unacceptable notion of God.”

The new God is a philosophical concept that its proponents use to ground a potential for goodness in the world. When believers in the new God speak of God in personal terms, they do so metaphorically. One key insight in Silver’s book is his argument that even secular people need to express gratitude in personal terms. As he explains, “God-talk may be the only language adequate for the expression of certain emotions.” Speaking of a personal God in this sense is a “trope” or “just a manner of speaking.”

The new God becomes “whatever there is in nature that makes good things possible.” But, lest we over-read this statement, Silver adds: “God has no will, intentions, or desires.” In no sense is the new God a personal God. This God is a principle, a concept; not a person.

The God of the Bible is dismissed as a rational impossibility. Supernaturalism is itself ruled out of bounds within the closed box of the materialist worldview. Many would go further and argue that the God of the Bible is immoral — ethnocentric, violent, and oppressive. But all this goes away with the new God, who is not a person, does not need to “exist,” has no will or intentions, does not intervene in history, and is thus not morally accountable at all. The new God is not an agent who acts, and thus cannot be an immoral agent.

The old God, the God of the Bible, the God described by Silver as the “God of our fathers,” is simply not plausible. Thus, as Silver eloquently suggests, modern secular people turn “from the God of our fathers to the God of our friends.”

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