The paradox of how to address G-D

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Photo cred @beholdcreators from @oaklifechurch #didyouseefeel lent series

I recently had a conversation with some one about the concept of God.  God is this idea that things are created and that there is some sort of being above and beyond all of reality.  The friend that I was talking to used to have a very thought out understanding of this God and how God operated in relationship to our world.  But then through life circumstances, both the highs and lows, they saw the finish and veneer of that deity-portrait begin to fade and crack like a centuries old piece of art.  The words and ways through which they knew God just didn’t seem to be holding water any longer.

In our culture, God is largely filtered through our language, which is inherently sexist in that it operates in a binary, specifically male/female language.

But does the Cosmic Cause and Source of All have a gender?

It’s complicated.

The more I read from the wisdom and imagination of folks who have spent their life trying to listen to and understand God, the more I realize that God is inherently other (holy).  God is beyond our categories and transcends all language, art and metaphor.  This is why in many traditions like apophatic theology, God is described by realizing what God is not. Essentially as soon as you find words to help us understand God, you must unsay those words, because they could never come close to fully encapsulating the divine.  This is also why in Hebrew tradition, which all Christendom is indebted to,  God’s name is not even spoken or written.  With this sentiment an author I’m currently reading  ambiguously identifies God as, “gracious mystery, ever greater, ever nearer”.

So yeah, God is beyond what our brains can cognitively hold.  But there is another angle to this as well.

The same God who is beyond my potential comprehension…..

Is also, somehow, deeply personal.

This same God comes near to us, and is talked about in intimate terms like “Daddy” or “Father”.  This God suffers with us, enters into our mess, and promises to never leave us or forsake us.

So there is tension.

On one hand, God is beyond, but on the other hand God is nearer than anything or anyone.  And so I find myself trapped.  I mentally know that using masculine language to describe God is inaccurate, but I can’t help but use the words that are at least somewhat closer to what my spirit tells me God is: with me like a unconditionally loving parent.

Sometimes when I look up at the stars or hear some beautiful music, I feel a sense of wonder and awe that we even exist and that we are privileged enough to behold life.  In those times God can’t possibly be named or captured with my words.

Other times God is crying right beside me, helping me carry the burdens I’m weighed down by, and even though I can’t explain it, He is near, and He is a loving Father who knows me intimately and deeply.

So like many things with the life of faith, there is paradox.  Two seemingly mutually exclusive truths, both as true as possible, at the same moment.  God can’t possibly but be named, yet God is Abba.

How do you describe/sense/understand/know/un-know this thing we call God?
What words, songs, feelings, movements, pictures, sensations, titles, help you walk through the mystery of faith?

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One thought on “The paradox of how to address G-D

  1. Pingback: ‘Consider’ and Other Clues to Being Fully Human. | Chris Scott

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