What is God?

Sunday Morning Musings: This week there were so many things running through my mind, it was difficult even to narrow down my musings.  I was very intrigued by a question I saw recently asked nearly 20 years ago by the late Marcus Borg.  Instead of the more tradition question, Borg asked: “What is God?”

At first I wondered how I might have a personal relationship with an object (i.e. a ‘what’ and not a ‘who’).   Almost since we began telling and recording stories about God, we have personified “God”.  At the very least we have given God the traits of a person (after all, man is made in the “image of God” so why wouldn’t God be more human like than anything else in creation?)

Oh, oh, I’ve done it now. Half the popular is going to be after me – let me tell the story I once heard about God creating man and having done so looked at this creator and said “I can do better than that and so created ‘woman’.  – Hopefully that should do it, or is everyone now upset with me?  Maybe I should just stop thinking.  Where was I?

What is God?  I have to admit that the more I mused about this question, the more I began to comprehend what I think Borg was getting at.  God, for many even today, is still up there in heaven and is seen as having very masculine traits – God is an old man with a long beard in the sky surrounded by angels.  This God looks down upon creation and sees and blesses the good while cursing and causing bad things to happen – sometimes without us even knowing what we have done wrong.  Even if we have been good (like Job) we still must have “sinned and gone astray”.   We were so bad that God knew that there was only one option left (even the flood wasn’t enough).  Jesus would come and be crucified for our sins – atonement was the only way.

Now that makes me ask: What is God?

Because I do not follow the theology of atonement in the sense that I have been taught – that is to believe that the only way to be at one with creator and creation is to believe that Jesus died because I was unredeemable, I have a lot of re-learning to do.  Firstly, I had to stop taking the Bible literary and wrestle with it (like Jacob) and how to understand it.  As an example, I can refer again to Jacob and Jacob’s ladder.  To me when I read this story the ladder represents the relationship that exists, that I am not separate from God.  Again and again the Bible tells me about the on-going connection of creator and creation.  When Jesus “cleansed the temple”, I feel that we are being told that God doesn’t just dwell in the temple or our churches, but everywhere there exists any attempts to marginalize anyone – which by the way is everywhere, even in our churches and mosques and synagogues…

After yet another mass killing in a school in the USA I say a t-shirt that said something along the lines that it couldn’t be God’s fault because God isn’t allowed in schools anymore.  I agree that killing is never God’s fault, but whether we want to admit it or not, God was there.  Not as a ‘who’ but as love and compassion.  God was there, God is everywhere good needs to be.  Without love there is nothing (1 Corinthians 13).  Without love there is no God.  What is God?  God is love.

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