What do people understand by the word ‘God’?

This quote from Eckhart Tolle would seem to be a suitable starting point:
“The word ‘God’ has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. I use it sometimes, but I do so sparingly. By misuse, I mean that people who have never even glimpsed the realm of the sacred – the infinite vastness behind that word – use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is that they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions and egoic delusions, such as ‘My (or our) God is the only true God, and your God is false’, or Nietzsche’s famous statement, ‘God is dead’.

The word ‘God’ has become a closed concept: the moment the word is uttered, a mental image is created – no longer perhaps, an old man with a white beard, but still a mental representation of someone or something outside you . . . and, yes, almost inevitably a male someone or something. Neither God nor being nor any other word can define or explain the ineffable reality behind that word. So the only important question is whether the word is a help or a hindrance in enabling you to experience that towards which it points. Does it point beyond itself to that transcendental reality, or does it lend itself too easily to becoming no more than an idea in your head that you believe in, a mental idol?”

It was Richard Holloway (the former leader of the Episcopal Church in Scotland) who suggested that the symbol ‘God’ is one of the most ambiguous of human inventions.
Richard had a big impact on my thinking in 2010 as I have explained in “Broken Myths”.

  • How much do we know about God? 
  • How well do we know God?
  • Do we really know what we believe?
  • How did we come to believe in this God?
  • To what extent were we influenced by our own culture?
  • If God exists how would you describe the purpose of life?
  • Christian faith presupposes that we can talk to God, but what does that really mean? 
  • What place prayer and worship?

There are so many assumptions hidden in the word GOD.
Many are asking questions – many are angry, frustrated and disappointed – a sense of loss – injustice – rage against the world as it is – bitterness that life is not better – resentment – specific losses.
Where was God when . . .
Why didn’t God stop that . . .
Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
Does God really exist?
All very real questions!

Some people talk about when God showed up – others just wonder what that means. Can we learn something from other people’s stories?
It is said by some that when we move towards others with love and grace that our eyes are opening to the divine presence.

Just a brief reflection of my own thoughts and feelings at this point  in time:
I have been attracted to the idea of the Ground of Our Beingthe electricity of God that everyone can be plugged into!
Are we moving from God up there somewhere to God as source or that from which everything flows.
Communications with others that resonate – feelings of being connected to everything – to nature – a deeply divine presence – a strength that is available beyond self?
Are we moving from God being somewhere else (who may or may not be involved from time to time) to the God who is right here with us?

I mentioned in my introduction that I had wanted to make the question, “Where is God?” the foundation of my blog. What do you think of this?

What was it that Barbara Brown Taylor said when she was asked, “What do you think when you use the word God?” See here.

What can we learn from ‘Christians’ who no longer attend church?
Here are my notes of a Nomad podcast entitled, “The Invisible Church – Stages of Leaving”.

How’s that for a start?