God is a Mystery

These words emerged in a discussion of God as koan in a comment thread here on this blog. I thought I’d turn them into images that can be shared.

  • Orc Orchard

    There are no gods and hence, no mystery.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I don’t see how one can reason in that direction, since what some mean by God is the cosmos, which by definition exists. Perhaps one could argue the reverse – if God or gods always involve an element of mystery, then if one could prove that there are no mysteries, then perhaps one could also say that there are no gods. But I am not persuaded that there are no mysteries.

      • beau_quilter

        Doesn’t the whole question of what God is (or whether He/She/It is a mystery), depend upon how you define God? I don’t think it’s a question of semantics. I think that, even if you limit yourself to Christians, there are a huge variety of “Gods” that people believe in.

        As you say, what some mean by God is the cosmos.

        James, what do you mean by God?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          For me, the word God denotes whatever the ultimate reality is, whether it be our universe, or a multiverse, or that which brought them into existence, or the context and framework within which one or more universes exist. I don’t claim to be able to perceive that reality directly, or know whether it has a will and if so what that will is. Hence my talking about mystery a lot. :-)

          • beau_quilter

            That sounds like the textbook definition of a pantheist, unless I’ve missed something?

            If God denotes all of reality, and you can’t perceive whether that reality has a will or not, why refer to God at all if it is simply another word for ultimate reality? What leads you to take on the name of a Christian?

            (I don’t mean the question at all cynically – I’m trying to figure out where you come from to see if it’s a place I might be interested in going.)

          • beau_quilter

            The images are beautiful, by the way.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              The main reason for considering myself a Christian is that I had a life-changing religious experience within a Christian setting, and although I don’t think about that experience in the way I did immediately after it occurred, it has still set the tone for everything that I’ve done since. I don’t think that, even if I were to adopt a different label, or even if I were to try to reject Christianity, I could escape from the formative impact it has had on me, both nominally in my upbringing and then later more personally and experientially.

              The main reasons I don’t self-identify as a pantheist are (1) I think of God as involving the transcendent, and so at the very least, that which emerges out of the entirety of all that exists and not merely the sum of the parts, as it were, and (2) I don’t know where transcendence ends, if indeed it is anything other than infinite, and so although part of our universe may be all that I can experience through the aided senses, I simply don’t know how far up or down the rabbit hole goes.

              • beau_quilter

                Thank you for this.

                Whether transcendent or not, I agree that we don’t know how far up or down the rabbit hole goes.

  • BrotherRog

    Equating the cosmos with God is a form of pantheism. And that’s fine and well.
    I happen to be a panentheist. Panentheism holds that God is fully transcendent from all of Creation as well as fully immanent within it. Seems to better jibe with my experiences. Peace.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Panentheism is the term I indentify with most as well.

  • progressivefan1

    God is Definately a mystery – why is he so silent – why do we ask questions and get no answers – maybe its just us ???

  • progressivefan1

    take enough LSD to find out ???

  • Jerome

    So if ‘God’ is a mystery without a solution and a question without an answer then what is ‘God’ supposed to be or why speculate about it in the first place??

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think the only reason to do so is dissatisfaction with simply not speculating, not wondering, not pondering. Even when the answer to a question is “we don’t know” we are often not content just to shrug and say OK. It is an expression of our own longing for transcendence, and to understand our place in the grand scheme of things.

      • Jerome

        Ok, fair enough. But if ‘God’ is such a mystery or such an unanswerable question then why assume the Bible describes any aspect of it?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Why indeed! In general, progressive and liberal Christians understand the Biblical texts not as descriptions of God but as expressions of the human search for God, and perhaps at times also symbolic pointers in the direction of God.

          • Jerome

            Fundie Christians must hate you for that! :D

            I’m not sure you could still call ‘progressive and liberal Christianity’ a religion then? Isn’t it more like a philosophy?

            Or do you have core theological dogmas that have to be taken on faith? That’s seems to be incompatible with ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ though, no?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              The notion that religion has to involve accepting dogmas on faith has never been universally accepted, nor has it gone unchallenged. Paul Tillich’s The Dynamics of Faith makes what I consider a very good case for Christians to understand faith very differently than that.

              Yes, some fundamentalist Christians hate me! :-)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X