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Will the real god please stand up? September 16, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Religion, spirituality, Theology.
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In Hinduism, there is a multiplicity of gods including Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Sustainer), Krishna (Love, destruction of Evil), and even Shiva (Destroyer). In the Judeo-Christian faith, we claim to believe in ONE God yet there are great inconsistencies in the Bible concerning the description of God.

In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth. Elohim is a plural word for God and is used over 2,500 times in the Old Testament. The root of Elohim is El which is used 250 times. Other variations include El-Shaddai, El-Elyon, and others. God is also referred to as Jehovah or Yahweh almost 7,000 times in the Old Testament. There are also many variations of Jehovah including Jehovah-Jireh. However, my question does not relate to the many names of God.

Many of us have struggled with the Old Testament’s portrayal of God vs. the loving father image as portrayed in the New Testament. Many of us have also struggled with the concept of Jesus being God and with the concept of the Trinity being ONE God. However, my question does not relate to the Trinity or to the reconciliation of the characteristics of God between the covenants.

What then is my point? I would like to focus on the way God is portrayed in the Old Testament and even in the Pentateuch which was supposedly authored by one man, Moses.

If one reads the Pentateuch, they cannot help but notice that God is portrayed in many different ways. For example, Abraham’s God walked into his tent, consulted with him , and even bargained with him. This relationship with God even translated to his grandson actually wrestling with God (is that even possible?).

By contrast, Moses’ God was holy. One could not look on his face and live. He was present in a burning bush and spoke in thunder and lightning from a holy mountain. We could carry this study beyond the Pentateuch to the prophets, psalmist, and others and recite many other examples where the nature and characteristics of God are radically different.

So my question is this: Is God showing us different aspects of himself and how he related to different people in different ways or is the Old Testament simply a collection of holy scriptures containing different men’s views of God and specifically how they related to him based on their environment and outside influences at the time? More specifically, is the Bible God’s Word to us or our word about our perception of him?

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1. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - August 27, 2005

Maybe God is (and appears as) what is needed for each moment, and each individual. The perceived inconsistency (here we go) might just be in the documentation of the event, or the way someone today might read it compared to many years ago. OR…maybe it’s all just a nice story, like every other religion’s stories. OR…maybe it’s part of a “higher-power” divide-and-conquer strategy. Hell, it could be for a number of reasons that aren’t even discussed here, beyond Christian vs. “Seekism.”

2. Andrew - September 15, 2005

Just to clear somthing up, Hinduism IS a monethestic faith, using different icons to describe the qualities of its all incompasing Brahaman. Next, I’d like to point out somthing about the ‘human condition’ as so many like to call it. Think about the last time you went to a movie with someone else. When the movie got out, haven’t you ever noticed how diferent that other person percieved it? Its almost as if they didnt even watch the same film. This could also be true when people try to describe God and the stories about him. Don’t you find it just a bit coincidental that there are such striking simularities in the major world religions, yet also some very striking differences? I personally believe that God gave us hints and nudges, trying to get us to live our lives the way He intended, yet each time we misunderstood his hints a little, and so God finally came down, in Jesus Christ, to SHOW us what he meant. Many of these blogs are so focused on the Old Testament, when in all reality, the New Testament is the more profound of the two.

3. doc - March 16, 2007

This question was asked:
“More specifically, is the Bible God’s Word to us or our word about our perception of him?”

Answer: To me it is both God’s Promise and the way humankind has interpreted that promise.

To me, the Bible perfectly reflects man’s spiritual journey from birth to death and to life: From innocence to shame and suffering to the seeking and final joy of complete oneness.

And as we spiritually evolve in our journey of life, we will perceive what God is telling us based upon how able we become to hear and to see His Truth.

IOW, God always speaks the truth to us, but we are often blinded by our own ability to understand the totality of that truth. But what truth we do gain is perfectly suited to our current understanding.

4. Stewart MacLean - March 16, 2007

To answer a question: Yes, God is displaying revealing aspects of His character in the New Testament which are a continuation from those in the Old.
However, your comment about the OT God not being one of love I strongly disagree on. I believe that the Law of Moses points directly to grace. Think about it this way, why was the Law given? To create a set of rules which cannot be violated; or to protect the Jews… hint: it wasn’t the former.
God gave the Law so that His chosen people could prosper in the wilderness and then form a nation. The laws in the wilderness were different from the laws once the temple was built; there is a very valid reason for this. The wilderness laws (moral, ceremonial, and dietary) were implemented to keep the Hebrews focused on God; and to point toward a permanent temple. Their function: protection – Therefore, a God of love. The same is true of the Law once they settled into a nation; the Law was set up to protect Israel and keep them focused on their God.

Anyway, I could go on but this post would be huge 🙂
My point is, while on the surface there are clear differences between the dispensations of Law and Grace, but in the end they all come from an unchanging God.

5. Did God condone and order mass killings? « Seekism - June 17, 2007

[…] Bible, church, spirituality, Christianity, faith, Religion. trackback In a previous blog “Will the real god please stand up?” I explored the different portrayals of God within the Hebrew Bible a.k.a. Old Testament. […]


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