Whorled View

July 26, 2007

My God vs. Your God: a mainstream oxymoron

Filed under: Uncategorized — lullabyman @ 4:09 pm

I realized something obvious today. At least in retrospect it seems obvious to me, though I don’t know why this concept alludes others. It happened while I was hopelessly searching for a decent radio station to listen to in the garage, and in the process happened upon a “Christian music” station where they were singing some song about how great their God was. It wasn’t about “God” in general, or “the” God, but they consistently used the term “my God” with as much or more gusto on the word “my” as they did on the word “God”. I then thought – if you believe in only one God why even mention “my”, or “our”? The phrase “my God” implies that there is more than one God. That’s an oxymoron if you’re a monotheist (someone who believes in only one God).

“The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.”

I’ve also heard so many times from many (but not all) religions people claim that their God is better than another person’s God. As a Mormon person I hear this a lot from mainstream Christians directed toward me. I’ve always responded that we worship the same God, although we understand the physical/spiritual nature of the Godhead to be different from their concept. To which they usually respond vehemently that no way is our God the same being as their God. The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.

The only logical rationale I can imagine for this implicit contradiction is that they consider “God” to be a concept rather than an actual being. I don’t think that is what they’re doing though since they, like me, claim that God lives, not that He’s just some kind of philosophical construct to make people feel better. So I must conclude that they’re just trained to reinforce this implicit contradiction, which if corrected could engender greater understanding and mutually beneficial communication.

“…most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him.”

If one is literally referring to God with the intent to compare religions the best thing they can say is “our understanding of the nature of His being and power are different”. Of course, the implied meaning is “You’re wrong about God’s nature and power, and I’m right”, but at least it’s plainly understood that there is only one God.From time to time I’ve heard the interesting accusation (from people of all religions, including my own) that certain people “don’t worship the true God” or variations on that theme. Although this is very offensive, I don’t think it is as dangerous as pitting one God against another, and besides this accusation abides by the rules of a monotheistic perspective. Of course, it is an extremely presumptuous accusation to say someone simply isn’t worshiping the true God because they don’t understand the nature of God’s being and power. Its also irrational to suggest that misunderstanding something about the object of worship instantly disqualifies the worshipful actions, making them null and void, and there are no scriptures I know of to back up that absurd claim.

“… but can all worship the same God by simply doing good and appreciate each other for it”

It’s also obvious that making such presumptuous and irrational accusations alienates others and engenders spite between religious groups. It can be reasonably argued that most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him.  If the middle-east Jews, Christians, and Muslims accepted what an irrational idea that is, and that they all believe in the same God, but only interpret Him and His nature and purposes differently, then the idea of the “heathen” and the philosophy behind “Jihad” would suddenly dissolve. The challenge there is that so much of their scriptures do seem to refer to a plurality of monotheistic Gods, so that isn’t likely to happen without a new interpretation of those verses.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen as long as religious leaderships continue to senselessly pit their monotheistic Gods against each other as the Greeks or Romans did. Fortunately, those of us in the civilized world can be rational and realize we all worship just one God, the Creator of the earth, – just differently. Admittedly some might be more accurate that others in their ideas about God, but can all worship the same God by simply doing good and appreciate each other for it.

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