Quote of the Day

Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell. PHiLOSOPHY and LiFE blog

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reconciling different apprehensions of God

How can I reconcile:

  1. The God who seems to be so personal, personally loving and present; who is there when I "lift up my heart to the Lord with a gentle stirring of love, desiring him for his own sake and not for his gifts;" the God without whom life is desperate, depressing and meaningless?
  2. God, the Creator, which is enormous, awesome and terrifying; which is the Universe, which created the Universe; which saves us by ignoring us?
  3. The God who is not: the God of the apophatics which/who cannot be known; the God which does not exist; the God which is no-thing?

I need the personal God. He makes my life possible and gives me energy and meaning. He is my energy and meaning. I am no longer alone, unknown, without redemption. I am a hopeless case: unloving, uncaring, subject to addictions, so limited in my ability. Only God can help me; only God can save me; God is my only hope.

And yet, God is these other things as well, so far from the personal, the loving, the compassionate. So other.

On God's point of view

We often reduce the scope of God's concern to the scope of our own concerns. We are confused when we get ill and are not healed. We are outraged when a natural disaster - a so-called Act of God - is not averted. We commit acts of war or terror believing that God has commissioned us.

What if God's point of view is different from ours? Indeed, what if God's point of view is so different that we cannot remotely have any conception of that point of view? When someone dies, we see this as a great tragedy: what if God does not see it like that?

Whilst I believe that God cares passionately for each one of us (and by 'us' I mean all beings upon this Earth, not only us (relatively unimportant) humans), I also love the idea that God's ways are different and higher that ours (Isaiah 55.8-9). Perhaps caring passionately for us is not the same thing as caring for the continuing of the existence in which we currently are manifested. Perhaps, for God, illness and death are not disasters.

Of course, it is important to realise how wrong-headed and potentially damaged and damaging this language is. God is not a person: God does not 'care', is not 'concerned', does not have 'a point of view', does not 'see' - or at least, not in any way we would recognise.