Spong and other progressives call for a non-theistic understanding of God. My girlfriend and I have had a bit of a disagreement on this of late, since she relates to God as a parent, a being who regularly communicates with her. I am beginning to move towards a more panentheistic understanding, where God is understood as the creative force and substance in and behind all of life. Yet I am not sure that I can readily agree with Spong right now that relating to God as a parent and a being should be abandoned; considering the authors of the Bible readily attributed human traits to God, I think it is entirely up to the individual to relate to God in their own way. Being created in the image of God means that we are somewhat like God; not obviously in appearance, but more in essence.
The problem I have with relating to God in a patriarchal manner is that such association causes me to imagine an angry parent constantly frustrated with my foolish behaviour. He really doesn’t like most of the world, spares a few and punishes the majority. Within this understanding, it was difficult for me to grasp the love of God, particularly when most of the world was going to hell. It was a massive sigh of relief for me to see hell as mythological and metaphor. After a period of uncertainty, I’m resting in the love of God, not thinking that I’m relating with an actual being, but feeling in tune with the sacred, the divine essence, who still has a mind that seeks my best good. Prayer for me is relating to this mind through a process of self-reflection. I can’t see God as a being who acts in result to my prayers; rather I see prayer as bringing me in tune with God’s will and purpose.