- Published on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 07:40
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 3008
The big appeal of religion to many Christians is the idea that god (or Jesus) is a person - someone who you can have a relationship with - someone you can love and who will love you. In fact, there are many times when the conversation you have with a Christian is all about this - dogma and morality are hardly mentioned. So it is inherent in most Christian's thinking that God is a person and not the essence of life or of nature that Hinduism and Buddhism teach.
The ideas of being all-knowing and all powerful also require that god be a person. But at the same time, Christians will say that god wants to be worshipped and we must do that. Worship seems to mean that we acknowledge our inferiority and become fully subservient to god. How can we love such a being? Worship obviously derives from the fact that in ancient times, everyone lived under the rule of a "Lord" of some kind who demanded obedience and in fact subservience. God was simply the "Lord of all Lords". But there was no illusion that the Lord loved anyone. But then of course, along came Jesus who said that he wanted to be worshipped but also loved everyone - well at least everyone who loved him. It seems to me to be an oxymoron - a "Loving Lord". Perhaps they mean like a father - demands obedience yet loves us. OK, but how many fathers would condemn us to hell if we disobeyed? How many fathers want us to worship them?
Some philosophers and theologians and many Muslims, dispute this idea of a personal god. Being a person exposes god to being fallible and less than perfect. You don't hear Muslims going around talking about being saved by a loving Allah!
But if we say that God is not a person - it's just a useful analogy - then all the emotional attraction disappears. Yet the Christian religions that are growing are the fundamentalists that rely on this concept. When you remove the emotional content, you start to look at it rationally and inevitably end up with either atheism or some form of mysticism such as Buddhism. Some people do manage to find a way to retain their emotional content while convincing themselves that at least some of the Christian teachings are valid - but such custom religions seem to be intellectually dishonest. You are effectively saying that your particular collection of beliefs (which suit you) are right and everyone else in the world is wrong. Very arrogant to say the least.
A variation of this is found with people who say that "all religions are wrong"; people should just "follow Jesus" as described in the bible. Again, the appeal is emotional and attached to the person who claimed to be god.
So there is clearly a conflict between the concept and need for god to be a person to provide emotional content and the need for god to NOT be a person to allow him to be worshipped and have god-like attributes.
But then most Christians do not think much about any of this - they rely on their pastors and theologians to have an explanation for all these conflicts. Jesus was right on one thing - many people are like sheep and he is their shepherd.