Wednesday, April 24, 2013

God's Outstretched Arm (part 3)

One of the reasons I embraced Islam is that I have a strong, personal dislike of the anthropomorphic versions of God found in many other religions. That being said, I feel that trying to grasp The Divine without using ANY 'personhood' references is next to impossible. We are physical beings in a physical world and, as hard as I try, I can't avoid using personal pronouns when referring to God or using human ideas and emotions to describe God's being.  For example, when I say things like "God hates this," I don't think God really hates in the way that we do, but trying to discuss God without using any of this kind of language can make the discussion cumbersome and esoteric.  So it doesn't offend me to read or hear God being referred to in this way. I think we're all trying to understand The Divine and we're using whatever faculties we have to do so. Perhaps, the closer we get to understanding God, the less we need to rely on anthropomorphic representationswhether mental or physicalof God.

Amanda originally wrote her response in the comments section of Tziporah's post. Grace responded last week with a Christian perspective. Please share your thoughts in the comments section this week. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

God's Outstretched Arm (continued)

The outstretched arm of God is a powerful image in Christianity, too. Witness Michelangelo’s beautiful “Creation of Adam” painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!  Unlike our Jewish and Muslim cousins, Christians are comfortable imaging/imagining God, yet without worshiping the image itself or losing sight of the reality that God cannot ever be imaged/imagined in all God’s fullness and glory.  We believe that God has created every human being in God’s image, and that, in the person of Jesus Christ, we can see that divine image fully revealed. For this reason, we seek to conform our lives to the life of Christ—not just to the prophetic teaching of Jesus, but to the very being of Christ—by loving wholly, unconditionally and limitlessly.  The term “Son of God” is not understood by Christians as a reference to Joseph’s or Mary’s son; like other monotheists we believe that God is One and undivided. “Son of God” is simply a way for our finite brains to conceive an eternal relationship through which God gave and gives to us God’s very self to be with us in our joys and in our suffering, and to offer us the redemptive Grace of an ever-deepening awareness and experience of God. That is why the historical Jesus, a Jewish man situated in time and place, can be understood as the eternal Christ—of one being with God—who can be seen and embodied in every person. Depictions of Jesus Christ, the Icon of God, can thus be windows for us through which God’s presence, and God’s forever outstretched arm, may be revealed.

This is a response to Tziporah's post of March 20th. Please share your thoughts about using anthropomorphic terms to talk about God in the comments section.