What do people understand by the word ‘God’?

As I said in the introduction, I have learned so much about why Christians believe(d) what they believe(d), often as a result of divisive, denominational theology, but are quite unable to agree among themselves on the place of Jesus.
It occurred to me that it might be helpful, especially for some of those who might be considering just walking away completely,  if they had the chance to consider, not the place of Jesus, but what some of us understand by the word ‘God’, and even “Where is God?”.

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.

  • What is the Purpose of Life?
  • Does life have any meaning?
  • Who, what or where is God?
  • Is God present and active in the world today? 

I was told recently that I shouldn’t even ask the question, “Who, What or Where is God?” because it is unanswerable.
I now sense that “Where is God?” may be one of the most significant questions we could consider. Do you agree?

  • 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?
  • Christian faith presupposes that we can talk to God, but what does that really mean? What place prayer and worship?

The following notes are loosely based on a three part podcast by Rob Bell in 2015.

There have been endless efforts trying to figure out why this God who is apparently somewhere else intervenes down here from time to time!
How do we get God to come to us here?

Consider this critique of Christianity:
Because there was a problem here on earth, God had to send his son from somewhere else?
Was it necessary that God’s son had to be killed so that there would be less violence in the world?
Peace would only come if God killed someone?

How many of us resonate with atheists (or agnostics) who reject some or all of these views of God?
A/theismagainst theism – maybe against a three tier system that puts a divine being somewhere else?
It’s surprising to me how many Christians still believe in that “Grandfather in the sky”.
Who else doesn’t believe in this God that we don’t believe in?
Are we witnessing the death of a way of thinking about God.
Is it fair to suggest that few things have caused more atheism than Christians clinging to ways of viewing the world that now sound crazy?

Time to move on?

Why for example is there so much fear, guilt and shame associated with Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity?

It is a sad fact that Christians can’t agree amongst themselves, even about what they believe about the place of Jesus. Some people see Jesus as their ‘boyfriend’ while some see Jesus as God!

I want to end this first part with a brief reflection of my own thoughts and feelings at this point  in time.

There has been a resurgence of interest in the work of Paul Tillich and 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. God with us? Our experience as an echo of a larger sound?
Communications with others that resonate – feelings of being connected to everything – to nature – a deeply divine presence – a strength that is available beyond self?
These all describe ways of putting God right here with us.
Why do we have this power to direct our attention to the well-being of others?
Why for example have we moved beyond slavery?
Is humanity in a process of becoming?
Begin with what we see around us.

How do you summarise in a few words, a journey through Christendom that started as an adult over 60 years ago?

How’s that for starters? End of Part 1.

Diana Butler Bass wrote another book in 2015 entitled, “Grounded”. I’ve made some notes of three podcasts where she was discussing the content of the book that was all about “Where is God?”.

Any thoughts?

See here for Part 2.