John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

I Am Not God

I've talked a few times on this blog about ontological dualism. I love writing and saying that phrase because it sounds so academic. And sometimes people from universities type that phrase into a search engine and land on my crazy blog. Incidentally, when I was teaching through the life of Solomon last year, I did a three part series: Extreme Wisdom; Extreme Foolishness; and Extreme Sex. I blogged about those three lessons, and I still have people who "google" the phrase "extreme sex" and end up here reading about Song of Solomon. I find that pretty funny.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah...ontological dualism.

Basically, it means that there are two categories of things. Christians believe this, but they usually draw the line in the wrong place. Usually, we think of spiritual things and non-spiritual things. That's not Christianity. That's gnosticism -- or at least neo-gnosticism.

Christianity says there are two categories of things: God and not-God.

Nearly 15 years ago, Ernest Kurtz wrote the definitive history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was titled NOT GOD. In the book he says that the first (and hardest) thing for an addict to accept is that he or she is not God. Here's a quote from the Introduction:

"...the fundamental and first message of Alcoholics Anonymous to its members is that they are not infinite, not absolute, not God. Every alcoholic's problem had first been, according to this insight, claiming God-like powers, especially that of control. But the alcoholic at least, the message insists, is not in control, even of himself; and the first step towards recovery from alcoholism must be admission and acceptance of this fact that is so blatantly obvious to others but so tenaciously denied by the obsessive-compulsive drinker. Historically, it has been the concept of divinity, the notion of the deity, that includes the idea of absolute control. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous, then, teaches first and foremost that the alcoholic is not God....

"But Alcoholics Anonymous is fellowship as well as program, and thus there is a second side to its message of not-God-ness. Because the alcoholic is not God, not absolute, not infinite, he or she is essentially limited. Yet from this very limitation -- from the alcoholic's acceptance of personal limitation -- arises the beginning of healing and wholeness."*

That message is not just for alcoholics; it's for me. All too often, I forget that I'm not God and try to control things that aren't in my power to control. It makes me fearful and anxious. It drives wedges between me and others. It sets me up for failure and frustration.

That's Nebuchadnezzar's problem in Daniel 2. He thinks he's God.

That's John Alan Turner's problem in 2006. I keep on forgetting the one thing that is most obvious to everyone else around me: I am not God.

*Ernest Kurtz, NOT GOD: A HISTORY OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), pp. 3-4.