Spring 2023 | “The Future of God”: In Pursuit of the Divine

The future of God? To believers, that’s a misnomer, of course—the eternal God is not bound by past, present, or future. But the question implies several others that linger and loom: What about our future with God? In an age of upheaval, with its paradoxical mix of expectancy and disillusion, what divine images should we affirm or recover for the future? What kind of God is worth believing in? In this year of the YDS Bicentennial, the writers for the Spring 2023 Reflections take up these foundational questions with gusto. A period of institutional distrust is an opportunity to raise up new experiences of the living God, one contributor declares. Other writers find divine images of human renewal in the biblical text or on the dance floor. What most share in common is a conviction: the possibility of connection with God in the very anguish of questions about God.
Cover image: Marek Piwnicki/Unsplash


From the Dean's Desk

A good friend who is a colleague at Yale said to me after losing a member of her immediate family: “I wish that I could have your faith.” Her statement points to the inextricable bond between trust in God and the human experience.


By Ryan McAnnally-Linz ’10 M.A.R., ’16 Ph.D. and
Miroslav Volf

Worrisome trends of social alienation, dislocation, and acceleration cry out for the recovery of a neglected biblical image of God.

By Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes ’18 M.Div.

After three years of pandemic, the image of God needed for church leadership now is not Jesus the senior pastor but Jesus the outreach pastor, who visits the sick, goes to the prisons, runs the food pantry, and ministers to people beyond earshot of the pulpit.

By Gregory Mobley

Despite all the distractions of political religion, it’s still possible to experience the God of the Hebrew prophets and of Jesus, the God of fire and love—the chance to meet YHWH again for the first time.

By Volker Leppin

When we begin to understand how richly varied our divine representations are—and when we abandon the claim that a particular controlling image of God is the only one—then we are all the more likely to revere the one and only God who dwells within all our representations and remains beyond them at once.

By Teresa Morgan

Trust is crucial to faith. In the New Testament, everyone who trusts in God through Christ also doubts, fears, wobbles, or fails at some point. But as long as a person wants to trust, failures of trust are never a deal-breaker. Imperfect human trust is enough for God to work with.

By Kyama Mugambi

Christians in Africa pray—a lot. The spirited, sometimes paradoxical intersection of African church and society shows the power of vivid belief in a God who is both transcendent and immanent.

By Katie McNeal ’15 M.Div., ’16 S.T.M.

Our questions about the nature of God make it possible to find God even in the chaos of this life.

By Nilaya Knafo ’22 M.A.R.

Shabbat is a weekly renewal of a partnership with God, a reminder of humanity’s powerful capacity to create peace with God and our neighbors.

By Dante A. Tavolaro ’17 M.Div.

Reasons for holding fast to faith: belief in a God who can bring new life in the face of heartache and despair, a God who desires us to be unbound, a God who welcomes all who are condemned for not fitting into socially defined boxes of normalcy.

By John Hare

The universe is divinely structured so that the good is more fundamental to it than the evil in it—and the two things we so deeply want, happiness and goodness, go together.

By Peng Yin ’12 M.A.R.

Manifestations of God aren’t found in earthly power but in unexpected places, unpredictable moments, even in the uncertainty of belief.

By Javier Viera ’00 S.T.M.

Turbulence in the Christian churches of North America and Western Europe is a potential gift to the world, a chance to reconsider and expand our understanding of how humanity encounters the Divine.

By Lloyd Steffen ’78 M.Div.

Declining church numbers are worrisome, but they need not cause spiritual distress. They may come to be viewed as powerful opportunities for rediscovering the God who makes all things new.

By Jamal Davis Neal, Jr., ’22 M.S.W., ’24 M.Div.

Seeking the living God is a matter of shedding older and despotic images of the divine and arriving at the experience of the Spirit as a force of belonging, liberation, and compassion for all creation.

By Jane Potthast ’23 M.A.R.

A turn toward the Logos, the Word, is a healing antidote to the abyss of introspection, the wounds of anxiety, and the fragmenting contemporary torrent of words.

By Jessica Church ’21 M.Div.

Fateful consequences flow from the divine images we choose to honor or refuse—political consequences, ethical ramifications, grace-filled or lethal outcomes.

By Tim Ahrens ’85 M.Div.

We are failing in our caretaking of earth and neglecting to love each other. The future of humanity—not God— is in question. The solutions are faithfulness, honesty, integrity, community, and connections with people.

By Ray Waddle

The vision persists that Christianity will liberate life from all idols, all ideologies: the DNA of Christian teaching mandates that we see the face of Jesus in everyone.

Reflections is a publication of Yale Divinity School