Few thinkers have made such a lasting contribution to Western Christianity as Thomas Aquinas (1225–74), who attempted a synthesis of Augustine and the Greek philosophy which had recently been made available in the West.
The God I believe in is hard to describe, at once inscrutable but very knowable personally. A God who is found in paradox beyond category and human concept but still imminent. The Jesuits “define” God thus:
God–Various titles or names are given to the Mystery underlying all that exists–e.g., the Divine, Supreme Being, the Absolute, the Transcendent, the All Holy-but all of these are only “pointers” to a Reality beyond human naming and beyond our limited human comprehension.
The following are phrases images that inform my concept of God but I stress that such a concept is, at best, a metaphor or pointer which by definition cannot exhaust God’s Reality.
I never believed in the Old Man in the Sky with the fuzzy white beard.
Ground of Being – God doesn’t exist within a set of dimensions. Existence and essence spring from “Him.”
Love – God is not loving. God IS love.
Mind – The God of physicists and mathematicians who see the way our universe works under the mathematically precise laws of physics, who cannot help but see how they point to a Mind that works mathematically.
Person – I have no idea how to relate to an impersonal force. I am a person who ultimately can only relate to another possessing intellect and will as a person.
Trinity – I didn’t like this at all back in the day. Learning the doctrine’s history, I found the it and the process that bore it repugnant. But as I learned about mysticism and theologies that show paradox is useful for “understanding” God, it became beautiful. Three in One is indeed nonsensical non-rational but apt since we Christians experience God as all three.
Good/Hope – Eschatologically speaking, God is my hope that on the cosmic scale, the Good prevails, despite the horror of the present.
Truth – God for me is True in every sense including the objective.
Jesus – The Master and example of what a human being looks like who is in intimate communion with God.
Religion has a lot to say and makes many claims on God. I do not take them at face value. In fact, I believe that to be a mistake. A metaphor for something doesn’t supplant the reality to which it points. A symbol can’t replace what is symbolized. The ancients knew this when they created myth and practiced ritual, earthly things meant to represent the heavenly. We as modern faithful would do well to remember this. It helps me to remember that my religion is how I live out my faith in this God not God Himself.
Right now atheists seem to be all abuzz about Yahweh, a.k.a The Volcano God, in some weird attempt to discredit The One we Christians, Jews and Muslims worship today. Ask any of us monotheists if we believe God is a god of volcanoes and the discussion will be cut short by weird looks and lots of laughter.
‘What Shall I Say to You?’ | Commonweal magazine: “What did that Latin quotation say to me that afternoon nearly half a century ago? It began, surely, in the notion that God was no mere Big Someone or Something outside of me, the anonymous Ground of Being. Rather, in the words of the great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, God was a fathomless, transcendent ‘Thou’ with whom, even in my moment of wavering, I was still wrestling. But what of it? What, really, did I hear, in the chanted Latin running through my mind that afternoon, to reverse the bleak intuition of the utter emptiness of myself and the mysterious absence of God?”
UPDATE: The post has been updated for clarity and to reflect an evolving understanding of my LBGT brothers and sisters.
Recently, I was taken to task about the morality of homosexuality gay individuals having intimate relations with their beloved and how the Bible “clearly” teaches such is a sin. Frankly, I never really believed that and having other priorities chose not to bother examining the issue other than cataloguing some verses. Other things are were important to me in my faith journey. But given all the proud bigotry I’m seeing, surrounding so-called “gay marriage” and the civil rights of LGBT persons, I decided to give it a look see.