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"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believers in him should not perish but have eternal life." (NIV: John 3: 16)
"The human mind is part of the infinite intellect of God." - Spinoza
Discussion on non-Christian or non-Monotheistic ideas of "god" here :
God may, or may not, exist; if existant, he may, or may not, conform to the template which is generally ageed on by Christians. One compelling argument as to why God must either not exist or not look like the Christian God is TheProblemOfEvil.
I do not believe that theology should begin with a discussion of mankind.
AR: Admittedly being the first person to define and use this page means I have free rein. When human beings try to produce a definition of God, that definition will always be inadequate. (I don't know how I'm supposed to "Edit God" exactly!) God is far bigger than any box we could put God into. Christians believe in one God. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One of the attributes that the Bible assigns to God is that of love. God is love and one of the ways we see that love is by examining the Trinity. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and the Father loves the Spirit and the Spirit loves the Father and the Spirit loves the Son and the Son loves the Spirit. Perhaps that could be said better by saying that love is not something that God does, but something that God is. (see GodIsLove)
AR: Christians believe that God's love manifests itself in the world by the fact that God sent Jesus Christ into the world. We do not see God as Aristotle might have done. Aristotle's God was one who created the world and set the world in motion and then left it to its own devices. God as Christians understand him is involved with continually sustaining the world. I like to see God as so involved that (metaphorically speaking) he did not mind getting his hands dirty and entering our world, full of its bickering and war and fights and arguments. God did not just sit around watching mankind make a mess, but entered the fray and set an example. Some theologians would like to say that all Jesus did was set an example for human beings, but I think that this is a mistake. If one takes seriously Jesus' actions then one should take seriously his claims.
AR: Athanasius said "God became man than man might become God". This does not mean that a person literally or ontologically becomes God or that a person stops being a person when one knows God like this. Alternatively, NIV: 2Peter 1: 4 says "through these [promises] you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature". All that it means is that mankind may possess a vision of who God is and have a relationship with the Father, Son and HolySpirit. This doctrine is known as Theosis.
AR: I intend to come back and edit this page to say more about God, but this is a start.
AR: I should like to quote a large part of a George Herbert poem to capture the way I feel about loving God...
"Oh God, I love thee, I love thee—
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails and lance,
Mocked and marrèd countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesu so much in love with me?"
Ow... that forced metre is painful, and as for the trite rhymes... That degree of cruelty to language is a crime.
AR: :-( You don't like it? Oh well...
I wonder in what way, other than the poetic, to 'possess a vision of who God is and have a relationship with the Father, Son and HolySpirit' could be said to be 'becoming God'? That quotation seems not only to be confusing but actively misleading; perhaps a reference, or some other context, would help?
- AlexChurchill: I also have found it confusing in the past, the way theologians talk of humans "becoming God". I think it's a set phrase, like OnceUponATime, which has been separated from the actual meaning of the words in it. AngelaRayner or any other Theologian?s, feel free to step in and correct me.
"Becoming God" is another way of saying that we become partakers in the nature of God (2 Peter 1:4). That is, we are not said to become the same being as God, (we don't stop being creatures), but we are said to take part in the life of God. I've searched the web repeatedly for a better explanation than I can give and the best I've come up with is from another wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis The paragraph that deals with this best is directly under the heading Theosis in Orthodox Christianity. AR
AR: OK. What I have done, by accident, is to confuse part of the Christian Doctrine of God with the Christian Doctrine of Salvation (theosis). The way Christians understand God is through relationship with him. I've not distinguished enough here between God and Christians' relation to God. I will set out at some point to unravel that mess and rewrite some of what I wrote at the top.
- I'm no authority on this kind of thing, but I've always understood phrases like "becoming God" to be linked with the New Testament teachings which say that we should try to be as much like Jesus as possible in the way we live our lives, meaning to love everyone as he loved everyone. Maybe that's not what it means, but I still think that it's a good template for the way we live our lives. **Embarassed shuffling of feet**. --PHL4IVI3R1D3R
Discussion of "definitions", "Defining God is impossible", and "God is love" hidden at Revision 23. Discussion of GodIsLove moved to its own page.
It feels rather against the spirit of the above to attempt to put God into any box at all. Far be it from me to attempt that. However, I would like to link this page about God to others on related issues by inserting this tag:
- Mainly because I can I will object to this that not all discussion of 'God' need be Christian. Hmmm? --Vitenka (my first, and probably last, venture into this aspect of the wiki)
- Hehe... that's the great thing about Wiki: you can venture into discussion on things you wouldn't normally touch. You are indeed correct - Christianity does not have a monopoly on discussion of God. However, since Christianity undoubtedly does discuss God, I think the Categorisation below should stand. (Along with the additions :) ) --AlexChurchill
- Well, yeah - but I can't think of anything I can post anywhere in the whole topic of ReligiousMatters? that would not be (rightly) interpreted as FlameBait?.
- Hmmm.... God in a Box. There's got to be a joke in there somewhere... --Edith
- God is a gas
- Alan Partridge
Hah. This should show how provincial I am. I was, like most people, surprised by the recent (horribly unscientific) study showing that a quarter of people in this country who openly expressed a preference did not believe in god. However, my reaction was "Only a quarter didn't? I thought it was more like only a quarter did." So most people that I know are religious. I guess just most of them aren't particularly loud about it. --Vitenka
- (PeterTaylor) I think the census results showed that 70% of Britons claim to be Christians. I believe approximately 5-10% of Britons attend church more than once a year. Draw your own conclusions.
- As I said, not a very scientific study. It would be nice to have accurate numbers of real categories, rather than a 'what the man on the street answered' - but I guess such things are hard to get. Perhaps the really interesting part is how many people admit to being non-religious, rather than how many people basically are. Then again, the radio had this incredibly smug humanist on going on about how people may not believe specifically in a christian god, but they still tend to be mystically minded. Thus giving me a new belief - I am a hunt-down-the-smug-humanists-ist. --Vitenka
- (CorkScrew the Humanist) Eeeep... :(
I also like the discussion that a non-religious country is a great experiment in human society. And obviously, those living in it mostly think that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out, I guess. --Vitenka
- (PeterTaylor) USSR? China? Or is that not what you mean by "non-religious country"?
- Suppression of religion from the top has indeed been tried. Suppressing it from the roots upward is the new thing. --Vitenka
- In my view a non-religious country is one where no-one tries to use religious ideas to make laws. I really don't care what stupid tenets the people down the road adhere to, but don't want to be told that I have to obey rules set down by some god I don't believe in. - Naath
- What are you happy to have used as a basis for the laws that those who have authority in your country set over you? Are rules set by a God you don't believe in any worse than rules made up arbitrarily by people you disagree with? (This is a minor point compared to other recent discussions, but I'm interested) --AlexChurchill
- Yes, because rules set up arbitrarily can be argued with. Rules based on belief can't be - almost by definition, belief is independent of logic. Basically, you're less likely to get burned at the stake for questioning non-religious laws. - CorkScrew
- "Are rules set by a God you don't believe in any worse than rules made up arbitrarily by people you disagree with?" - that seems to be an excluded middle. To someone who doesn't believe in the same god as the person setting the laws, there is no distinction between basing the laws on "god" and making them up arbitrarily. Most people want rules to be justified in a way that isn't completely arbitrary. - MoonShadow
I can't remember where I read it (possibly it was even on this wiki) but there was a great quote along the lines of "When you can explain why you don't believe in other Gods, you will understand why I don't believe in yours". In the spirit of this, I'd like to put forward the Aztec pantheon as a plausible alternative to the Christian God - can anyone explain to me why I should believe in the latter but not the former? - CorkScrew
I submit that the myths of all religions have the same level of historical accuracy. It is just as likely that Herakles killed the Hydra as it is that Joshua ben Joseph rose from the dead - myths are written by the people who believe in them, they are written with the assumption of divinity and *then* the are copied and embeleshed by people who believe but weren't there - adding in bits that look cool but didn't happen (OK, compare LotR? to PJ's film right - many many changes and yeah, maybe it's because it looks better that way... it is no harder to accept that religeous texts have been changed by people who were trying to make it look better, trying to make a better dramatic impact?) - Naath
- I don't believe in other gods because they don't exist, would be the simplistic answer... ^_^ But to answer properly. I can feel that Someone is listening when I pray; I can see God's hand in his Creation if I look hard enough. When I read the Bible, I feel that it's right. I choose to attribute this to the Holy Spirit, because the message I get therefrom is that of the Holy Spirit as put out in the Bible. I define this to be faith. Basically, the only answer I can give is - I believe because I believe. It's not something I can easily articulate without sounding utterly crazy (see last few lines). But see my comments on /MultiTheist. I'm afraid that the most coherent answer I can give is 'Because the Christian God exists, and the Aztec pantheon doesn't.' I'm also aware of how incoherent that is. Can someone take over who's better than I am at this? Because I'm incoherent, and I have to go and revise. --Requiem
- Deary me. Just because your god answers your prayers (good for him, doing something usefull at least) in no way means that my gods do not answer my prayers. If you are willing to accept 'I have a feeling' as a reason for your god existing then you damn well ought to accept it when I say 'I have a feeling' as evidence that my gods exist. If you are going to say 'but my god appeared to me in a dream and said...' then I am just as entitled to say 'well, Eris appeared to me in a dream and she said...'. I accept your experience, I accept that the god to whom you pray may indeed be listening, that doesn't mean that gods to whom you are not trying to talk are not listening to the people who are trying to talk to them. -- Naath
- So the Aztec pantheon is inferior to the Christian pantheon because you're a Christian not an Aztec? (I'm using Aztec to refer to the religion not the race) That's not gonna convince an Aztec to convert, I'm afraid. I'll stick with my "Nanahuatzin saves!" bumper sticker :) - CorkScrew
- There's only one response which springs to my mind. There may be others which haven't occurred to me. But my answer (barring experience) is this: that Christianity has its roots in history, in events that it claims really happened. There was a figure in history called Jesus. I flnd the historical evidence that he rose from the dead compelling. As this is a fairly unusual occurrence, I conclude it would be worth taking a serious look at what he said. I discover that as well as the teaching of his that's popularly repeated and a lot of other stuff, he made some extraordinary claims: to be able to forgive sins, to have seen God in a unique way, to be present always, and other things that add up to a claim to be the divine Son of God. This must be either true, or an honest delusion, or a deliberate lie. (This division is also known as the "Mad, Bad, or God" argument.) If one concludes it's most likely that he's neither Liar nor Lunatic but Lord, then they have an answer to your question. --AlexChurchill
- Re the historical-data side of things: so why aren't you a Mormon? The Book of Mormon is even more recent, and has at least as much backing from the people of the time. Anyway, we don't know whether the Aztec beliefs are rooted in history - it's too far back to tell. However, if we are allowing the possibility of "miracles" occurring, Aztecism would not seem any less likely than Christianity - CorkScrew
- Re the Mormon thing: briefly, because of things like one of the authors of the Book having later confessed to newspapers that all the stuff about golden... plates or whatever was a lie. I've been claiming historical reliability of the resurrection, so I hope it's fair to apply the same standard to other faiths.
- But the main point is about miracles, and I guess the thing is most miracles don't have so much riding on them as this one. One thing where I do agree with the stereotype Evangelical line is that the central question to be answered is "what do you say happened to Jesus?" The question each one has to be able to answer to their satisfaction is whether or not he was raised from the dead. If he was, then you have to come to a conclusion on his claims to be divine: was he deluded, lying, or telling the truth. --AlexChurchill
- If we ignore the scientific context that I use to make reliable decisions, I would say that I don't have a clue what happened with Jesus as I wasn't there. Do you know what happened with Nanahuatzin? (Aztec god who supposedly sacrificed himself to create the sun) - CorkScrew
- Wheeeeeeeee sun god sun god ra ra ra. Can't we use an example more people know more about? Because I can't remember much about Nanahuatzin...
- Well, we can prove that the world wasn't destroyed by massive supernatural jaguars.
- No, we can't. They, or some other supernatural power, might have completely re-built it to the last detail. --ChessyPig
- More info coming soon at AztecGospel/Stories - CorkScrew
- Agreed - CorkScrew
See also [Hitherby].
CategoryChristian | CategoryHeathen | ReligionMatters