Why I've learned to avoid the term 'God'

So in the past couple of weeks I’ve moved increasingly from the Bible towards a form of non-deistic philosophical theism, perhaps Unitarian Universalism (@gbrooks9), since I am able to see the virtues of variety of religious traditions, not only Judaism and Christianity, but also Islam, Atenism, Middle Platonism and Zoroastrianism.

My main reason for this change is the realisation that I couldn’t fit Christian or Jewish Orthodoxy even in it’s most liberal form, but I’ve also started to find issues with the term ‘God’ as a description of the First Cause.

I agree that the First Cause shares many qualities of the God of Abraham, such as intellect, necessity, and omni-qualities, but also that he shares the quality of incomparability, as found in Isaiah 44:6, and Surah Al-Ikhlas in the Quran. God, if I am correct is species unique, and is nothing like the spatio-temporal gods of pagan religions, David Bentley Hart has a well written chapter in his book ‘The Experience of God’, as to why the term ‘God’ is misleading. So I like to avoid use of the term God, and any term which could potentially demean the first cause, by comparing it to something to which it is incomparable to. Instead I prefer the neoplatonist term ‘The One’, or ‘Monad’, terms which emphasise it’s uniqueness.

Thoughts?

The most important realization I had in the last couple of weeks is that ultimately every positive describtion we want to use for God (“God is good”, “God is powerful”) are ultimately nonsense, since we can´t even coherently speak of that category of the divine, due to his complete and utter otherness and our lacking ability to even grasp the true nature of the things within our direct daily experience (consciousness, thoughts, free will). When we are trying to understand Gods nature, we should do this through negative theology. Following Maimonides, the highest form of praise we can give is silence.

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Well I guess my first thought would be that the word God, is often cloudy in modern paradigms and translations. It can mean a wide range of things itself based on language. The same word that we capitalize into the English word , God, was also used for people and the gods of other nations. God is more of a role or title than a name. It would be like if there was a mechanic who was the best mechanic ever. He was the mechanic or mechanics. But we still also had other mechanics and even used the word in various forms like this guy is mechanically inclined even if he’s not professionally a mechanic. But even with the mechanic of mechanics, his real name is not actually The Mechanic. That’s his position.

But beyond that I guess I just basically disagree with the entire thing. To me there is one God of Gods and he’s the god that revealed himself to Abraham, and became flesh as Jesus Christ and faced all of our battles like we would and more in order to become the needed sacrifice and fulfillment to reconcile us back with the creator through a new covenant. Other faiths , are not the faiths that follow the teachings of Christ including a universal type faith that attempts to merge the all together and throw out the parts they dont like.

So ultimately for me whatever you want to call the idea you worship is purely up to you and only relates to Christianity in the most loosely symbolic ways. By changing the titles, I think it can definitely help you differentiate it from christianity and Judaism.

https://biblehub.com/hebrew/430.htm

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@Reggie_O_Donoghue

Its hard for me to imagine the first cause being demeaned by any concept.

His self-revelation is key. If he didn’t want us to know anything about him, we wouldn’t – all our musings are as a dream and not worth a lot, in the big picture.

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I am not sure if we would or would not ever know about him if he chose to not reveal himself to us.

But the fact that he did reveal himself to us is why I don’t believe in other religions and that was my point on why the OP could lose the terminology god and it would negatively affect whatever he believes and preaches.

He could hinder us from knowing him, if he wanted, or even mislead us, if he were of a mind to.

Christians believe in an adversary, and that’s the sort the sort of person he is, “a liar and the father of lies”, a deceiver, even disguising himself as an angel of light (in some OBEs and NDEs, or counterfeit visions, e.g., Moroni?). That is why spiritists and mediums are not to be trusted, either.

He did send Ahab false wisdom through false prophets. I believe he reserves those kinds of actions though for people who are not seeking him. If you truly seek him he will lead you to him.

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I wonder in a case like that if it is not satan getting permission, as in the instances in early Job.

Could be but I believe satan was used for as a tester. I’m not even convinced to be honest Satan was the snake. That connection was not made for 4000 years until in the New Testament though the whole venus ( lucifer ) take for the king of tyre could be used as evidence. But I believe before the fall all angels had to be permitted by God after a heavenly host hearing of sorts to intervene in someway. The story of Ahab is just one of the few times God allowed us to see into that aspect.

In my view “God” is a common name that we give this being (and a name that this being has allowed to be attached to itself as a way for us to relate to it along with the terms “LORD” “Father” and “Holy Spirit”) Of course, God when encountering Moses said when Moses asked for His name said back to him, “I AM WHO I AM.” which shows that He is self-existent and has no need for a name but for our sake in order to better relate to Him He has given us many names to relate to Him by. God is a being that is far beyond from us and is beyond far our understanding but yet in a paradox He is a being that wants to relate with us and have relationship with us. Jesus Christ is the Image of the invisible God and thus He has related to us through the Son.

A first cause for the world of our experience of the greater world, yes. But for everything? I cannot imagine how that could be. From whence could come the who or what to provide that first cause and, whatever it may be, what has it been up to before that?

To me, it is less important what we call it than how we set about assigning its domain. Perhaps expecting so very much from it will prevent its revealing itself to you for fear of falling short of your expectations? Why not start with what we know, that we ourselves are dependent beings so there is something which makes our experience possible. Beyond that, what can we possibly have to say about it?

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You sound like you are in control of the situation and have it well covered.

I think this is in a way, a good devotion to contemplate what God would be like (or not like). However, by the nature of language, we need to use images to communicate and investigate. Even what my silence would be, is different from another’s.

I’m reminded of JI Packer’s “Knowing God,” in which he says it’s a sin to have an image of Jesus, the cross, or anything holy, for fear it would get in the way of our understanding of God–from the unknowable, it would be too trite. At one point I would have agreed with him; however, now I disagree with him. In times of our greatest need, He is our mother and father; I’m concerned that we can be too proud, almost gnostic, of our lack of imagery, to the point that we neglect that if He is the founder, what is, proceeds from Him and must bear His stamp.

But I do understand some of what you are saying, I think; and that, too, is part of the understanding of God. “In quietness and confidence is your strength”–and Jesus also went to the wilderness.

Thanks.

The idea of First Cause shares a few of the qualities of the God of Christianity, but I suspect they are the least important. I don’t believe at all in any quality of incomparability. All things are comparable and the only point I can see in a word such as “incomparable” is just to refuse thinking about things. I am not a fan of neoplatonism and related things such as Gnosticism so perhaps I should avoid the term First Cause. I think it represents the inevitable alteration of God which comes from proofs of “God’s existence.” I don’t like Monad any better since that sounds like one is buying into the Gnostic idea of Plato of an evil creator Demiurge. But I could go with other names such as Jesus, Elohim, and Adonai.

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I’m sorry, you ‘don’t’ think God is the first cause?

What I mean to say is that “God” is nothing like the spatio-temporal gods of pagan religions.

Well if recognizing I’m not fully in control is being in control then I suppose I am. Thank you.

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Some might say, and I would agree, that the biggest difference doesn’t involve what the gods actually consist of but rather how those who believe in them define them. As far as I know no one has ever collected the divine equivalent of a DNA sample. Aren’t we really comparing the conceptions held by each God’s adherents?

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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