Sunday, 11 June 2017

Conceptions of God

At this time of year our thoughts move in the direction of God, if they are not already there.  Once a year we celebrate and worship the Trinity, I believe the rest of the year we celebrate and worship...well perhaps God the father or Jesus God the Son (probably more often than not) and rarely God the Holy Spirit, once a year on Pentecost.  We have one way or the other seem to have forgotten that God is three in one which is the real difficulty that other monotheist religions have with Christianity.  How can we say that we worship one God but have three who are one?  A definite paradox that we all struggle with at some point in time.

The presentation of this paradox has been enunciated most clearly by the various early councils of the Church as they struggled to define the reality of faith in which they lived.  The challenge for us today is that we hardly understand the meaning and thought processes that went to formulate what we know as the doctrine of the Trinity.  The result is that we focus our attention on specifics that we can understand rather than the whole that we cannot understand.  In this way we may focus our lives on an understanding of Jesus as being the Son of God or Christ.  We celebrate this in the incarnation and the story of the Resurrection. Or else we celebrate the Spirit and turn our attention to the spiritual gifts as given in scripture.  We concern ourselves with the fact that we are speaking in tongues or are evangelists and if we are not then we are not 'true' Christians.  In using our limited expectations in this manner we are able to cope but forget that we are sent out to make disciples and then to baptise in the name of the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28.19).  One way or another we will focus our proclamation on one of the three and not all three; we will make disciples who follow one of the three not all three; we will teach about one of the three not all three.  How can we do it any other way when we do not understand it in the first place?

It is fascinating to obtain an understanding of Aboriginal cultures around the world and fantasy genre.  The reason for this is that there is a ubiquitous understanding of relationship that is found when interacting with these topics.  I would say that all aboriginal societies are soundly based on a concept of relationship and community rather than the individual.  Most fantasy genre literature enunciates the struggle between the two in some form or another, usually with the community/relational aspect being the favoured outcome.  In coming to understand God we need to overcome our more individualistic tendencies and strive towards a holistic understanding of the nature of God.  It is only when we turn our attention to a more holistic approach to our faith that we will begin to understand or have a glimmer of understanding of what it means to worship God.

Only in relationship is the whole perceived

Each of us has a preference as to how we interact and perceive God and we would be foolish to let our prejudices inflame the rifts and arguments over God.   All that this means is that we become 'Jesusians' or 'Spiritians' or 'Fatherians'.  We should be able to at least acknowledge that God is more than we conceive.  Just as in the scientific disciplines, where we have a tendency to narrow the field of study, it does not mean that the narrowed field of study is the full story.  Each aspect must be seen in conjunction and as part of a greater whole, one that we only glimpse of in our halfhearted attempts to explain a Trinitarian God.  Today as we turn our thoughts towards God we turn our thoughts towards a complex community in relationship that leads us towards the formation of complex interrelations in our own lives.  If we focus only on one aspect we will tend to isolate and wither our lives to the detriment of our own communities.  Just as the Aboriginal culture sees the worth of the individual in relation to community so we need to understand that the worth of our conception of God (Jesus, Spirit or Father) is only made whole and holy when formed in relation to the other.  Only then should we go out into the world to make disciples and baptise and then teach otherwise we will skew our worship of God and will not be doing as God has commanded.

No comments: