Whose God?

I’ve seen a number of discussions about God lately, not so much intentionally about God as about the nature of gods, inspired in part by Professor Larycia Hawkins of Wheaton College. Professor Hawkins had decided to wear a hijab to show solidarity with Muslims, and stated Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

As you might imagine, there has been quite an uproar over the suggestion that the God of the Christian Bible is also known as Allah. If he’s the same guy, why are the religions so different? Well, let us look at that question. Start with why do you think God, Allah, or any supreme being is male? You are trying to define the creator of the universe in human terms because they are the terms you are capable of understanding. For my part, when I refer to God I avoid gender specific pronouns, preferring “it” over “him” or “her.” This practice is the first step in incorporating the concept that God is in no way human.

One of the more troubling (to me) arguments to come out of these discussions suggests members of a religion in some way possess ownership of their God. This does not appear to be distant from the concept of my car owning me.

To answer the initial question, are these worshiped entities the same, very little investigation is required. Looking back a couple of millennia before Christ, Abraham makes his mark as a prophet. From Abraham comes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, three different approaches to the same prophecies, commonly referred to as “The Abrahamic Religions.” The same God, called by different names as time passed and languages changed. As those religions developed, “God” was attributed with different qualities, the manner of worship acquired different rituals. God didn’t change, the way humans interpreted God changed. Islam is simply the latest developmental spur of the Abrahamic tradition, in which Jesus is merely a prophet, as is Mohammad; the Quran being the inspired message of God to Muslims.

The evolution from Abraham gives us Judaism, Jesus appears and is rejected as the son of God by the Jews but accepted as the Messiah by those who create Christianity, Mohammad comes along and delivers the Quran rejecting Jesus’s status as Son of God, creating Islam. God did not change, just who is believed to have delivered his latest instructions. Being most recent, the Muslim believes his religion to be most evolved, thus the correct or “true” religion. Christians may counter their religion is still evolving, Protestantism produces new denominations routinely, but the core of Christianity, Christ, dates the religion as beginning with his birth. Each of the Abrahamic religions believe they are the one and true religion, leading the followers of each religion to believe the followers of the other religions are at best misguided and at worst following a different God, perhaps even an evil God. Some take it a step further denouncing other beliefs as not being religions at all.

As I stated earlier, we as humans define God using the measurements we are capable of understanding. God is seen as a fatherly, therefore male, figure. He must be very old, so he would have grey hair, and he would carry a staff to assist in walking. Even if you are one of those who believe the religious texts date the universe at six thousand years old, God would be well beyond the aging process of humans. Yet no one ever depicts it as a young being, creating the universe is thought to be the work of a mature being. Do you think its hair turned grey at the age of forty, or forty million? The question may already be in your mind, how is the dimension of time traveled by a being who created the universe and time along with it? As humans we travel about seventy years, yet God has traveled at very least billions of years, with some of those being before the current measure of years existed, does it appear older today than at the origin of the universe?

As humans, we cannot pretend to understand the details of what God is physically, much less its motives. The best we can do is to interpret God’s intentions for us, and every religion on Earth teaches we should love each other. If you honestly believe a religion teaches otherwise, tell me how long you practiced that religion before saying anything else, don’t tell me what you have heard about a religion you have not been involved with. Religions are different because they were created by different humans, each believing they understand God better than anyone else.

So I believe the answer to the question “Do we believe in the same God?” is quite obviously “yes,” but not in the way most people mean when they ask the question. I believe the answer remains “yes” regardless of the religions being compared, well beyond the Abrahamic religions, because God is not the rituals we follow in worship, or what we eat or wear.

God is Love.

If you do not believe God is Love, then you do believe in a different God than I do, you might want to check with your religious leaders to see if you believe in the same God they believe in.

Advertisements

7 comments on “Whose God?

  1. Mike R says:

    Good stimulus for thinking. How can a created being, being finale and temporal, possibly understand the depth, breadth, height, and width of the Creators? I guess we should turn to him for his advice:

    Isa 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

    How do we even begin to grasp a God who is, as you point out, ageless? How can we get our little minds around the truth that there are only two components of our “reality”– God, and his Creation? If anything exists it must either God or something that he created. As Paul spoke on Mars Hill, “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”

    Lately I’ve been fascinated by this–God’s “aseity,” the property by which a being “exists in and of itself, from itself, or exists as so-and-such of and from itself” (Wikipedia). It blows my mind. He needs nothing from the things he has created and is content within himself. How does a mere mortal grasp such a reality?

    I suppose the more interesting point in all of this is that God cannot be properly defined by mere creatures. We are prone to create God in our own image. As you say, to describe his person by our beliefs about him. Jesus stood before men and claimed to be God himself–fully God and fully human. Not meeting their definition of God, he was rejected by them. He was not the Son of God they had chosen to believe God was. They expected a military leader who would restore Israel by might. And in came a lowly and humble follow, riding on a donkey. They expected cleansing and restoration. He brought his own sacrifice as payment for their sins. They expected commendation for their righteousness and genetic line. He magnified their sin and offered love and forgiveness. But we want nothing to do with such a God. And so we killed him, promptly!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mari Collier says:

    My beliefs to a great extent are different from yours. I do not believe we have any idea of what God looks like. We have no idea if there is a gender issue as we are mere mortals. Those of us that worship the Trinity do not believe the same way as the Jews or Muslims. Their concept of God is very alike which both sides would deny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike R says:

      So, true, Mari. Even among those that call themselves Christians it can turn out they worship a very different God. As I grow in age, I’ve come to realize that a person might tell me that he is a Christian, and I tell him that I am, too, but if we then ask each other, “Who is Christ?”, the answers can be quite different. And, admittedly, as we age in Christ, our understanding deepens and goes through periods of correction and change. We peer through a glass that is fogged by our own sinful nature and the limits of mortal creatures. It is an incredible blessing that we have the Bible, and that God himself took on flesh that we might be able to commune with him. And being prone to hate God and my neighbor, how twisted can become my view of God! And how difficult it can often be to discover how readily I carve out an image of the God that my flesh prefers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mari Collier says:

        The more you reveal the closer our beliefs become. I simply do not have your gift of expression. Yes, we have a sinful nature, and that is why I am in church most Sundays. Without the sacrifice of Christ, I would be condemned. That love and forgiveness is for all and so easy to take and share and, yet, it is so difficult for us to do so.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. loreleibell says:

    I’ve always had a problem with people trying to put a gender on “God”. I once was a Jehovah Witness. before the year was out–I think I was 19 or 20–I had to quit. They wanted me to basically not be me. Since then I’ve discovered, or rather re-discovered my beliefs are more in line with Pantheism or Taoism. It’s basically not so much that God is separate from us, but more that God is in all living things, all inclusive. So, I cringe with the way some think their God is behind them when they go to war–or become terrorists and blow themselves up along with others they want to kill–with another country of opposite beliefs, as if God is only on their side. I think it’s a bit egotistical how anyone can twist God into their own making and think they are right and everyone else is wrong. Not everyone does this, but enough do that makes it dangerous these days to claim any religion.

    Like

    • kblakecash says:

      Today, walking through Philadelphia, I have been taken as a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew, and even though my skin is white I have been hailed as “one of the brothers” twice. The Christian part came from saying “Merry Christmas” in response to “Happy Holidays,” the Muslim part came from an older Muslim woman who recognized me by my hat, which looks more like a taqiyah than a yarmulke, and the Jewish part because it is a yarmulke. The brother part I don’t get, it’s been happening for months. I am usually taken as a pagan by other pagans, I must have an adaptive aura.

      To me, the most “dangerous” thing is to disavow a religion for physical safety. If I’m about to meet God, I wouldn’t want my last act to be denying it.

      Like

      • Mike R says:

        What a great experience, Blake. I’m not surprised. You are not one to fit into any neat social category. Free-thinkers typically get wrongly categorized as we humans try to make sense of the world. You are blessed with an openness towards others that surely causes them to identify with you. What a wonderful asset for communication. Of course, you probably get your share of those who are shocked to find out with further discovery that they just can’t mash you into the box of their own making.

        Never thought about wearing a yarmulke. My head’s just to big for a skull cap. Would end up looking like a decorated egg.

        Merry Christmas! Keep confusing the masses. It’s good for us.

        Like

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s