Theology and Christian Faith
Science and Faith (Epistemology)
Who is God supposed to be?
The starting point of this question is the question behind the question: what you mean by the term "God?" Let's rephrase the question as, "What does the term 'God' refer to?" The problem is in the different things people think when they use the term "God."
Thus the term "God," and its equivalent in other languages, refers to that ultimate which allows everything to work, the source of all things.
What is that ultimate? Whatever it is, that is what we mean by God. It does not make sense that there is not something summing up everything. Thus God is referred to as Creator, among other aspects.
Different cultures and religions have different concepts of the Ultimate and the relationship of the Ultimate, or "God," to the visible world around us and our experience in it.
Let me state a very general concept of God in Western philosophical terms in the Christian context. God may be defined as "That without which nothing else would or could exist."
Another way of stating it is "God is the basis of whatever exists." There is a good rational support for the belief that a Creator created the universe (by whatever process), and a common English term for this is "God."
Extensive philosophies or theologies are on record with various scenarios discussing the details of such a concept.
The next step is the personal aspect. The recorded experience of hundreds of millions in the history of the world indicate that there is a personal, not just an intelligent and powerful, aspect of "God."
Various faiths deal with the final aspect of the relationship between us as finite parts of the universe to this ultimate personal aspect that holds it all toghether. This is the declaration that God, as the ultimate "person," is able to relate individually to every individual part of the creation.
This is a unique ability, which is a further definition of God: The only part of the whole of reality which can relate directly to every other part of reality.
This leads to concepts of relationship, or attunement to this ultimate, personal and unique "person" of the universe. This ability defines God's uniqueness -- as the only entity able to relate to every part creation this way.
This relationship model accounts for the aspect of utter uniqueness and "otherness" in regard to aspects of personal character we can relate to. This relationship model deals with the contradictions (or continuums) of universal-particular, impersonal-personal, different-same better than traditional description models based on Greek philosophy and modern rational approaches.
These concepts of relationship, we may talk of in terms we understand from human relationships: attunement, forgiveness, acceptance, love, guidance, help, correction, salvation, comfort, etc.
First addressed on an Internet discussion group in April 2001
Article finalized and posted 12 September 2005
Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 2005
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Other rights reserved.