"For in place of a God who is literally or physically 'up there' we have accepted, as part of our mental furniture, a God who is spiritually or metaphysically 'out there'." (Honest to God, p.13)
The entire first chapter of Robinsons book goes into detail on this so-called modern stumbling block. Robinson thinks that modern man has no time for viewing God as a Person who exists above the earth or beyond the earth, and that terms like these are more of a theological hindrance than help.
Who cares what modern man thinks?!!! These terms are AWESOME!!!!
I know my modern man better than Robinson does, cuz I'm still alive. We aren't awfly grizzled about picturing God up in space. It doesn't grind our gears much. And if it did, we would need to smarten up.
When we send an astronout up into space, the rest of us down here say things like," He's up there somewhere." The referential language is not only symbolical....from a relative standpoint it bears literal meaning. That darned astronaut is really above us. Where's the offense? Where's the stumbling block?
And if God is omnipresent (ie. fully present in regions of space beyond the earth) why the heck are we in the wrong for saying," God is up there somewhere." He is up there, silly! He always will be. Astronauts are not the only modern entities that get the luxury of our spatial prepositions.
Moving beyond the doctrine of omnipresence, the symbolic importance of God's upness and beyondness remains in tact and necessary for today.
You have set your glory above the heavens. Ps.8:1
I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit. Is.57:15
"Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD.
All of these scriptural verses need no de-mythologising. They are easily understood and vastly important. They signify the sovereignty of God. To this day we still erect parliamental buildings on a slope higher than the surrounding buildings. Canada's government offices are situated on the bluffs of the Ottawa River, standing erect and high over Gatineau and Ottawa to the south. We all know what this means. No blockhead ever ponders the prominance of parliament and says," Gee, why the heck are those buildings on a higher plane than the rest?" The meaning is clear and immanent!
So too with God. I LOVE the thought of God standing transcendant over this pale blue dot, with the sons of God shouting for joy over his marvelous creation. The clouds are the dust of his feet.