More on Who or What is God?

Who or What is God?

I do not know. Nobody knows. There is no certainty in religion: faith and doubt must go hand-in-hand. Faith derives mainly from the innate human search for meaning, and although our life experiences are so different, inevitably we ask, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” Fortunately, in human life there is the puzzling little additive called intuition, which occasionally pricks us to think that there may be more than just the material world. It alerts us to the Mystery in which we exist.

Concerning the nature of God, anthropomorphism does not worry me because in the Mystery there is humanness. We are in the Mystery. We can do no more than try to apprehend it in human terms, but as Martin Buber argued, any type of I-It relationship with God should be avoided. In the Mystery the dialogue is I-You.

Abstract ideas about God such as panentheism sound reasonable, even scientific like physics, but they do not mean much. Religion is largely a human construct, and I think it is better to approach the Mystery from the human side.

As the psalmist wondered, what are we as human beings? We are not angelic beings. Our lives are limited in time and space, and our understanding is limited. As Christians we believe that the key to understanding our situation is Jesus. He emerged out of the environment of 1st-century Judaism, and using the tools at hand he constructed a religious edifice based on the assumption that at the heart of the Mystery there is something positive. Call it Love, goodness, holiness or whatever. As Christians we joyfully enter the wonderful edifice that Jesus created.

The main ‘tool’ that Jesus used in constructing Christianity was given to him by the prophet Isaiah, and that was the idea of the Suffering Servant. Jesus took on this role believing that the Kingdom of God would result. What is truly mind-blowing is that it did. The establishment of the Kingdom of God confirmed Jesus’s belief and Isaiah’s prophecy.

Although we do not know the exact nature of God or whatever is at the heart of the Mystery we can be confident that it is something good. As Christians we are in the Kingdom of God: we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus”, and we try to obey the commandment to love God and neighbour.


3 thoughts on “More on Who or What is God?

  1. paul wildman

    Well put Peter. While i concur with your points above I am at a loss to know why we then anthropomorphise and personalise God to ‘Him’ and ‘up there’ rather than stick with what you are saying.
    Any thoughts pls? ciao paul

  2. George Stuart

    I particularly like Peter’s first para. ‘Faith and doubt must go hand-in-hand. I have written a hymn about this. PLease use it if you wish. No copyright limitations are attached. Go for it!

    In Praise of Doubt (Vol 4 No 50)

    Some people say, “To doubt is wrong”
    We should not doubt at all;
    To question our beliefs, they say
    Could bring about our fall;
    But doubt permits an honest stance
    In those who are devout;
    For those who think about beliefs
    Can sing in praise of doubt.

    The Thomas’ story has been used
    To judge, condemn, deplore;
    But Thomas shows he is sincere;
    He wanted to be sure.
    For doubt can help and not deter
    A vital turnabout;
    Yes! Those who care about beliefs
    Can sing in praise of doubt.

    If our beliefs prevent our search
    For new and different creeds;
    Let us beware of narrow views
    Where dogma often breeds;
    With new, exciting facts we learn
    Much love can come about;
    Yes! Those who grow in their beliefs
    Can sing in praise of doubt.

    Tune Forest Green AHB 240 TiS 316

  3. Paul Inglis Post author

    It is interesting how pre-scientific thinking came up with ideas of the man in the sky and that these ideas have lasted so long despite the development of critical scientific thinking and education generally. So much more could be achieved by humanity if it set the goals you describe..make love the motivation for living and learn to care for each other and for the whole of the environment.

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