Really, this is part two to yesterday's post. The big question in the Bible is not whether or not one believes in "a god" (theism v. atheism) but rather this: which God do we believe in? The challenge for people of faith is idolatry: to create gods in our own image (very often out of our own neuroses and compulsions) rather than worshiping the God of steadfast love and mercy who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
It's not about whether or not we believe in a God, but can we believe in this particular God - YHWH, also called the Abba of Jesus, the God revealed not only in the Old and New Testaments but in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?
I said yesterday that Bruggemann recognizes that the testimony of the Old Testament includes dispute and counter-testimony. I think of the Book of Jonah, which turns this claim back on God when it comes to God's seemingly indiscriminate love of our enemies. "This is why I didn't want to go to Nineveh in the first place," Jonah says to God. "Because I knew you are a God of steadfast love and mercy and when that love extends to those who have hurt me I question your judgment and your justice..."
And of course the more existential counter-testimony when someone like Job or countless psalmists experience the unfairness of life. When bad things happen to good people it is hard to see God as a God of steadfast love and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Even so, and even on days when it is hard to believe in this God, we press on. Lent is an invitation not to return to some generic god but to this God who created us from the dust, this God who washes his disciples' feet and gives us a new commandment, this God who has claimed and marked and sealed us by breathing new life into us again and again and again.