God is Not a Formula

The Binomial Theorem above, provides a means of expanding a binomial expression that has been raised to an enormahuge power. Such expressions can be painful and tedious to calculate by hand. The beauty of formulas like the Binomial Theorem is that they work every time. I plug in my values, and the formula calculates a reliable result. In this way, mathematics has a predictable beauty.

I make my living with logic loops, binary equations, stored procedures and functions. Such entities are predictable when they work, and very frustrating when they do not, but in every case, we can attribute success or failure to correct/incorrect code. The logic is good and we get the expected result, or the logic is flawed in some way and we do not.

Do you ever catch yourself treating God as a formula? If I engage specific behaviors, or speak specific prayers in specific ways, God will be moved to a desired action. I believed X, said Y and God responded with Z. I can even decontextualize specific passages of scripture to back up my assertion, “If I do this, God will do that.” I had a recent conversation with a gentleman wherein he adamantly asserted that a specific man can heal any ailment because he knows exactly what to say and how to say it.

God is not a formula. God is God, and treating God as a formula is a dangerous and arrogant attempt to put me in control of God. Take a moment to ponder the absurdity of such an attempt. I cannot count the number of times I have conversed with individuals who treat God as a magic vending machine. I put in my dollar and a bag of cookies falls out the bottom. If I enunciate my prayer in this way or that way, or I “bind Satan” with this phrase or that phrase, God’s power will be loosed into my life and all the bad things I endure day in and day out will vanish. Health issues, money issues, relationship issues … all will be set aright if I plug the correct variables into the formula. And how fortunate I am to know what the formula is!

No. The truth of the matter is, it is very unfortunate that I am locked into this mentality that views God as a system to follow in order to achieve certain results rather than a relationship to engage in and grow with. How horrible it would be if my wife and I treated each other as systematic formulas. I did not marry a formula. I married a woman. She is not a stack of quadratic equations. She is my best friend. She is not as predictable as a2 + b2 = c2, and for this I am grateful.

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” – Psalms 145:3

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

Twitter – @DamonJGray
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Damon J. Gray

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  1. Julie on September 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    While I would agree that turning God into a formula is not appropriate, I hope that you are not saying that you feel that those of us who pray what some consider to be a ritualistic (or “formula”) prayer such as the rosary, or, a Novena to the Holy Spirit, as inappropriate. Yes, we might say the prayer the same way across a defined period of time, and we might actually pray it with a special intention in our heart (for health of soul or body, for a loved one in trouble…) but such prayers also bring comfort and familiar footing when your life seems out of balance. They can focus us and center us on God in a special way – sometimes that focus can enable us to hear an answer, and sometimes (quite often) just to be comforted when there is no answer immediately.

    • Damon J. Gray on September 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      Julie, what I’m getting at is the mentality that treats God almost as if He has no option but to respond to the specific approach taken by a petitioner. When three cherries come up on the slot-machine, the money simply has to pour out. There are those who believe and teach that if you speak phrase X with emphasis Y, that God has to respond with Z. If the cork is removed from the bottle, the genie MUST pop out and has no option but to grant three wishes.

  2. R.W. Williams on September 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    I loved this article, Damon. It is crystal clear in its message.

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