That God is not a Christian is one of those truths which is so self-evident that to repeat it seems as silly as saying “The sun does not set in the east.” It is self-evident because, as Adler once said, it's impossible to believe the opposite, i.e. that the sun does set in the east. God is not a Christian. It's not possible to believe that God is a Christian. God is God, whole and self-contained and transcends labels, sects, religions, geography, politics and so forth. God is not a Democrat; God is not an American. God is not a Christian. And of course, God is not a Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, Jain, Shinto, Sikh, and so on.
The expression pops up in 2010 as the title of a book by Bishop Carlton Pearson: God Is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu...: God Dwells with Us, in Us, Around Us, as Us (Atria Books). It surfaces the following year as the title of a book by the celebrated Archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu: God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations (HarperOne).
And now in a recent article on the Huffington Post (you can read it here), the expression comes up again. This time the discussion is adapted from a 2012 book by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan: THE WISDOM OF COMPASSION: Stories of Remarkable Encounters and Timeless Insights (Riverhead Books). The title of this online post is: “God Is Not a Christian: Desmond Tutu And The Dalai Lama's Extraordinary Talk On God And Religion”
In this post, the two religious leaders chat and banter for an audience, and at one point the diminutive archbishop says: “The glory about God is that God is a mystery. God is actually quite incredible in many ways. But God allows us to misunderstand her”—at this, the audience went wild; the applause was loud and spontaneous—“but also to understand her.”
“I’ve frequently said I’m glad I’m not God,” Tutu continued. “But I’m also glad God is God. He can watch us speak, spread hatred, in his name. Apartheid was for a long time justified by the church. We do the same when we say all those awful things we say about gays and lesbians. We speak on behalf of a God of love.
“The God that I worship is an omnipotent God,” Tutu intoned, opening his arms wide. He paused to let this sink in. Then he said, sotto voce, “He is also incredibly, totally impotent. The God that I worship is almighty, and also incredibly weak.
“He can sit there and watch me make a wrong choice. Now, if I was God,” he said as the hall burst into laughter, “and I saw, for instance, this one is going to make a choice that is going to destroy his family, I’d probably snuff him out.
“But the glory of God is actually mind-blowing. He can sit and not intervene because he has such an incredible, incredible reverence for my autonomy. He is prepared to let me go to hell. Freely. Rather than compel me to go to heaven.
“He weeps when he sees us do the things that we do to one another. But he does not send lightning bolts to destroy the ungodly. And that is fantastic. God says, ‘I can’t force you. I beg you, please for your own sake, make the right choice. I beg you.’
“When you do the right thing, God forgets about God’s divine dignity and he rushes and embraces you. ‘You came back, you came back. I love you. Oh how wonderful, you came back.’”