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Can we define God? March 9, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, faith, God, Religion, spirituality, Theology, Uncategorized.
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How can one define God? The very definition of God is a being who is infinite. How can we define infinity? For generations we have struggled to define God. Over the years, each culture has developed their own view of God. The God as defined by a small group of desert nomads in the Middle East dominates the Western World. However, is this who God really is?

Every definition of God can and will solicit questions. In this blog, I will attempt to raise many of those questions, not to disprove God, but to show that whatever definition we can come up with, it is impossible to create a nice little package that explains it all. In fact, I have spent a lot of time trying to package God into a formula that is logical and consistent. No matter what, I’m always left over with a few pieces of the puzzle that doesn’t fit anywhere.

In the end, I gave up and decided we will never really know. I was taught that faith is a “knowing.” However, I’ve discovered that faith is really a choice that we make to believe in something in spite of a lack of evidence or in spite of an abundance of factors we cannot explain.

Some days, it’s easier to believe than others. Some days the evidence points to one definition and the next it changes.

The ironic thing is that many may view me as being lost. However, I believe I’m closer to the truth now that I’ve decided that I’ll really never discover the truth in this lifetime.

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1. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - October 28, 2005

This should be interesting, if anyone replies. I’m curious to see how someone (of the Xn. persuasion) might define the “almighty” without using biblical reference. It would be MORE interesting to read what folks of other faiths think instead of the usual “cook-cutter” Xn. responses.

Sorry Roopster, had to throw that out there.

2. MMM - October 31, 2005

God is not a cookie, Baron. So there.Nor is He as I may define Him. I only know my experience of Him, and that has changed almost as fast as I can blink sometimes. I can, however, state that God is known to me by a way that He is not known to anyone else. He is the same God, and He does not change, but because I do, my vision of Him changes.Every day, I am Earth older.Every breath, I am closer to my physical death.Every heartbeat, I hope to be coming closer and closer to Him.I see, I love, I follow. But do not follow MMMe.

3. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - October 31, 2005

mmm,

I’m sorry, I wasn’t comparing [the idea of] God to a cookie. The vast majority of Xns. proclaim a deep, rich, and PERSONAL relationship with the unseen, unheard, and unmanifest “El Supremo” that comes across as no more than wishful thinking or euphoric expression (or both). Maybe the use of the word “define” is inappropriate. What about this…
When you experience God what do you see, feel, hear, taste, smell (sense)? Once again it’s like asking someone to describe the color blue. Some see dark blue, some light blue, and others somewhere in between. Some experience it as dark and cold, others light and cheerful.

I don’t believe God can be defined or experienced by a book (any book). The individual experience (individual relationship), I think, would be based upon what “you” have had first-hand witness of.

4. BruceA - October 31, 2005

Roopster, I agree with you. Any definition we invent for God will be inadequate. I like these words from the Tao Te Ching:

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the true name.

Replace the word Tao with God, and that’s my definition.

5. MMM - October 31, 2005

Well, He’s STILL not a cookie. :)I think the vast majority of Xns, as you call them, have these experiences and own them, and just because they turn out to be similar doesn’t mean they are invalid. Consider: Since there’s no new thing under the sun, God COULD be wishful thinking and He COULD be euphoric expression, and has been both, to MMMe, at different times. Right now He is surprising me with something I call the “Ta-DAAAAH” mode. And I’m liking it. And it does encompass wishful thinking, which I believe can be reality, and euphoric expression, which I use at times. Count me among the vast MMMajority, if you must. I won’t care. I know Him. And wish I knew MMMore.

6. Paco - October 31, 2005

I was out today in the early am elk hunting. The moon was a faint and tiny crescent on the eastern horizon. The Milky Way was visible overhead with familiar constellations making their October appearances. The coyotes were howling and elk chirping with an ocassional bugle piercing the pre-dawn darkness. The sun rose and illuminated the range of mountains to the west, taking my breath away.

Define God?

He’s “better felt than telt”…

7. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - November 3, 2005

brucea wrote:

“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the true name.”

Is it possible that the Taoist (or some other easter religion) have the the “actual” truth of God, and/or the keys to our own spiritual awakening? Is it possible?

8. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - November 3, 2005

Okay, who is God? How is he “defined?” Answer: In many different ways, by many differing points of view.

No for something totally different (that will most likely be disregarded).

So, Jesus cures a man of dropsy on the Sabbath. The Pharisees weren’t amazed by the miraculous healing, but were troubled by the fact that it took place on the Sabbath. So what does this mean? Did this mean that miracles weren’t a big deal then? Or it is a flawed description of what actually took place, and/or how certain people reacted? (There’s also a third possibility, but I’m almost positive someone else (of Xn. reasoning) will bring it up.)

9. MMM - November 3, 2005

Sorry, Baron, not biting. Explain your third possibility, please. Don’t wait for someone else to bring it up. I want to hear it. Please.

10. BruceA - November 3, 2005

Baron Del –

Is it possible that the Taoist (or some other easter religion) have the the “actual” truth of God, and/or the keys to our own spiritual awakening? Is it possible?

I think that we all have a little bit of truth, and that we can often find the keys to our spiritual awakening in what may appear to be unlikely places.

11. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - November 3, 2005

brucea,

Yep. I think that if there is a God (and I really “hope” there it) that you probably have the clearest picture.

Also, you are 100% correct in the “deleted” message summation.

I always enjoy your refreshing postings.

mmm,

I believe the third (and I guess there could be a fourth also) possibility is that eventhough Jesus performed miracles, the Pharisees, so consumed with there own self-righteousness and self-importance, were blinded to his deity and authority, and could only see the law of their Sabbath.

paco,

I once went hiking with Roopster at a large state park. We hiked to the top of a very high, tree-covered hill and rested. I remember looking over at the valley below, seeing a hawk glide over the tree tops. I was so overcome by its natural beauty and majesty that I was compelled to say to myself, “God, are you here?”

12. MMM - November 4, 2005

Funny, Baron, that sounds like XN thinking to me! :)But yes, I agree that God is found in places we aren’t really looking. Oh, and God’s answer?YES.

13. Roopster - November 4, 2005

BD,

We need to go on one of those hikes soon. Northern VA has some great trails but I do miss those Rockwood Reservation trails…

Paul

14. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - November 4, 2005

mmm,

I figured you’d think that. Way back when I made the “God, are you here?” statement, I was a searching neophyte, exploring the possibilities of a Xn. life. Over the years I’ve went back and forth with it, and have never been able to really get behind it (in any semblance of contemporary Xnty.). By the way, when I asked that question, I didn’t get an answer. I was just lost in the moment, which there have been many since.

Roopster,

There are alot of things we should’ve done. When (if) I get back from “over there” we’ll have to do something like we used to.

15. Paco - November 6, 2005

Paul, you need to come to Montana for a visit… I can show you some trails!

Baron, you’re welcome too (and anyone else)!

16. MMM - November 7, 2005

Nobody’s asking you to get behind a Christian life, Baron. Christ says Follow Me. It is certainly your choice to do so or not. I follow Him. But I can assure you there are folks who doubt I do so, for His path for me has led me straight through hell…and back. My point? Choose or not, it’s up to you. If you choose to follow Him, then abandoning all you may hold dear may follow, and probably will. I have found Him worth it. You may not. Come on out to the Desert of the Real, and see Him in the burning sands and bright unyielding sun. Or don’t. It’s up to you.Like I said before, I see, I love, I follow. But do not follow mmme.

17. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - November 7, 2005

mmm (and others),

I am searching for spiritual truth, for something (the only thing) genuine to believe in. I will, no, I do believe in God. The God that is the only God. I believe Christ came with a message of hope and love, and fulfilment of God’s intention. However, I don’t know if I’m a Xn. But, what’s in a name? It doesn’t matter. If I can focus on just Christ’s simple message, I think I’ll be okay. Not perfect, but okay. I still reject the NT writings beyond Christ, the rantings of Paul, etc. as being divine direction.

18. Paco - November 7, 2005

Baron, ever read any CS Lewis? I’m particularly thinking of “Suprised by Joy”… I’d geniunely be curious to hear your take on the book.

Paco

19. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - November 7, 2005

paco,

I’ve only read from my “Quotable Lewis” book, and that was years ago. I’ll take a look at it some time, however, I have mixed emotions about Lewis.

20. Roopster - November 7, 2005

If someone was to corner me and ask me what I believe in reference to Christianity, here’s how I would respond:

1) The O.T. is the chronicles and stories of a culture’s view and experiences with God. It may be a credible book historically but not every spiritual concept is accurate. For example, God did not say or direct everything he’s given credit as directing.

2) Jesus came on the scene and attempted to correct their view of God. His message was pretty simple in that he focused on the state of the heart, being compassionate, etc.

3) However, a measuring stick has to be used to determine what in the Gospels should really be attibuted to Jesus since they were written by folks who had a bone to pick with the Pharisees, and who were trying to fit Jesus into the Messiah mold as described in the flawed O.T.

4) “Christianity” really is defined by the Epistles. However Paul’s journey was one from a legalistic religion (Judiasm) to a follower of Christ. Along the way, he said some whacky things. Philippeans pretty much is a good book as to where Paul ended up in his beliefs and it actually was reflective of Jesus’ teachings. It should be noted that not everything attribued to Paul was really his as I don’t believe, for example, Paul put down women. Those passages were later additions.

5) So bottom line I accept the Bible as Holy Scripture but do not view it as “The” Word of God. It contains it of course. I subscribe to a small sampling of teachings of Christ that I posted in this post http://seekism.blogspot.com/2005/05/teachings-of-jesus.html That is pretty much my “Bible”.

Paul

21. MMM - November 9, 2005

“I don’t know if I’m a Xn. But, what’s in a name? It doesn’t matter. If I can focus on just Christ’s simple message, I think I’ll be okay.”I think so too. 😉

22. avoiceofreason - March 13, 2007

I have a feeling we all tend to define God in our own image. Maybe that is fair, since God made man in His own image.

23. Stewart MacLean - March 16, 2007

You stated that faith is a choice; is it that simple?
Personally, I would have to say faith is more about trusting then choosing. Or as the Bible defines it: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
In the case of Christianity it is an all or nothing package: either you trust that the Bible is the inerrant and complete Word of God (i.e. faith in Jesus); or you don’t and suffer the consequences (i.e. hope that your personal view is correct). Either way its faith… its all about where you have placed your trust.


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