English: God Saman
God Saman by Freelk via Wikipedia

There are at least three main and possibly interrelated ways of conceptualizing God, as well as three main ways of relating to the deity.

Conceptualizing God

First, in monotheism, God is generally seen as an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good transcendent but immanent (God dwells in creation but is also beyond it) being that created and rules over all of creation (e.g. Christianity, Judaism and Islam).

Second, one form of pantheism also known as polytheism boasts many gods, often ruled over by a master deity (e.g. the Greek Zeus).

Some non-Catholics say that the Catholic saints degrade Christianity with a form of polytheism. But this is a misunderstanding. Catholic saints mediate through contemplative prayer, not unlike people living on Earth who pray for one another.

Also, some say the Christian Holy Trinity is polytheistic. But this, too, is a misrepresentation because Christians generally agree that the three persons of the Trinity share a unity of substance which is One.

Meanwhile, some say that the Hindu gods and goddesses are polytheistic. But most Hindus point out that they are manifestations of the Brahman, an unmanifest ground of All That Is.

The third main way of conceptualizing God is expressed in naturalistic pantheism. Here, the forces of nature (and usually the cosmos) are identified with God. Some believe that monotheism and polytheism may coexist within a hierarchy of value. On the individual experiential level, that would mean progressing through a belief in The Many to discovering a (usually described as higher) level of monotheistic worship.

Stamp description / Briefmarkenbeschreibung De...
Stamp commemorating the 100th day of birth of Martin Buber (1878—1965) via Wikipedia

Relating to God

The monotheistic approach to relating to God is aptly described by the Jewish theologian Martin Buber as an I-Thou relationship. This is experienced as a

  1. feeling of awe
  2. healthy fear of offending the deity
  3. keen sense of personal humility

Another way of relating to the deity is seeing oneself as potentially identical to God. This second way is divided into three types:

  1. mythic identification
  2. mythic eternalization
  3. mythic inflation

A third way of relating to God is more about phenomenology, that is, about a person’s unique experience. Michel Henry (1922–2002), for instance, talks about God as the “essence of Life” experienced by the individual. His view of God doesn’t go much beyond that because phenomenologists believe we can’t really know much (if anything) beyond ourselves.

Related Posts » Agnosticism, Atheism, Deism, Mythic Dissociation, Mythic Subordination, Ontological Argument, Panenhenism, Panentheism, Panpsychism, Theism

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