Article in Stretton Focus, May 2015
The title of my piece sounds like an obvious question to ask. But I had been in the ministry for 40 years before I began to ask it. You may think that was a bit late in the day, and so it was! Those of us who are brought up in the Church just take God for granted, and get on with ‘doing the religion’, without asking awkward questions.
When you do get round to this particular question, it isn’t easy to find an answer. Whoever or whatever God is, is beyond reach of any form of words to describe. Religions generally agree with that, but then they go on to write endless volumes of theology, which is a word meaning ‘knowledge’ of God! And they talk about God in personal terms, as if God were somebody, somewhere out there. Not only that, but addressing God in masculine terms as He, Father, King, Lord.
Different religions have names for their God: and there are different stories of God’s comings and goings and activities here on earth. These stories are to be found in what religions call their Sacred Scriptures. These reveal what God is thinking, and what is going to happen to this world and to the people who live in it.
It seems to me that religions have worked themselves into a deep hole, where they have now got stuck.
What is patently obvious is that any concept of God must be a projection of our own thinking here on earth: it couldn’t possibly be otherwise. Some of this projection is good and helpful; some of it not so. Some of what these gods are said to think, and to have done, are unworthy to say the least.
But where they are projections of what we as humans regard as ideal (eg Goodness, Truth, Beauty and Love) they can act as an inspiration and a magnet to draw out all that is best within us.
We can never find a definitive answer to the question who or what is God? We can only say what we think the word God means (and if we didn’t have the word, we’d only have to find another one!)
It’s no good looking up into the sky for any God to come and put everything to rights. But ‘God’ could be the word we need, to generate the energy required to fulfil the potential we have, to become God-like.