Archive for God

Anglican fundamentalists: fundamentally different

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 25 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

Liberals in the Anglican communion continue to approach the current controversies as though the two sides agree on the basics and differ only on superficial matters.

On the contrary, on most superficial matters, they agree: bishops in palaces, priests leading services in church buildings, structures of authority, congregations, collections, salaries.

It is on the most basic matters that they differ: the nature of God, first of all, and everything that follows on from that.

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Don’t call me moderate, don’t call me liberal: why people of faith have to learn to be dogmatic in their rejection of bad religion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 25 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

Too many people – even people of faith themselves – work on the assumption that a little bit of religion (producing moderates and liberals) is a good thing, but a lot of religion (producing extremists and fundamentalists) is a bad thing.

But it isn’t about a little or a lot: it’s about good religion versus bad religion.

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The first and most important commandment: never claim to know the mind of God

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 24 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

In the top ten commandments, before murder, adultery, theft and perjury; ahead of covetous envy, and family duty; before the wise advice to take a day to unwind, comes this commandment, greater than them all: never but never presume the authority to speak in the name of God.

So much harm and evil has been done by taking that liberty, making that presumption, to claim to speak on God’s behalf.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”.

This familiar commandment is not about putting ‘OMGosh’ instead of ‘OMG’.

It is about presuming to know the mind of God, and presuming to dictate to others on that basis.

That is taking the name of God in vain.

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The God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 19 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

‘The God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist’.

That’s Abbot Christopher Jamison in the final part of the BBC’s The Big Silence.

All five of the participants in the show had found ‘spirituality’, but three of the five still couldn’t cope with classic images of God or religion.

Father Christopher suggested – in the quote above – that the God they couldn’t believe in doesn’t exist anyway.

What they had found: that is God.

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‘God is love’ – or ‘Love is God’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 19 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

One of the Old Testament names for God is Elohim.

It has the form of a plural: ‘the gods’.

The surrounding cultures had gods for everything: every hope and every fear.

The Hebrew bible promotes the idea of a benevolent God – Elohim – who contains all the people’s hopes and ideals.

For many, the word love sums up all that is most right and precious. For them, whilst ‘God is love’ may still sound hollow, ‘Love is God’ sounds like an ultimate truth.

By defining our terms, ‘God’, as Elohim, now exists – as the sum of all our/your ideals.

The argument is not over whether or not this God exists, but over the nature of God, and how we should live as a consequence.

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‘God exists’ – or ‘Existence is God’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 18 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

The atheist is right: the God defined by the atheist does not exist and cannot exist.

But if we move beyond childhood concepts of a Santa in the sky, we see that existence itself remains a mystery to be explained.

This mystery can be called ‘God’ – if we so choose.

And this is actually the official teaching of the church, in item 34 of the catechism.

It is also biblical: the name of God in the Old Testament – ‘Yahweh’ – means Existence or Being.

By defining our terms, ‘God’ now exists – as the mystery of Existence or Being itself – and the argument is not over whether or not God exists, but over the nature of God.

And that is one giant leap already.

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Islam: God is not a person

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 18 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

My two Muslim students tell me that in Islam it is explicitly forbidden to think of God as a person.

For some, God may still be a warrier king, bent on vengeance against the unbelievers.

But at least some mosques are teaching even ten-year-olds that whilst God may be called ‘he’ for convenience, and given person-like attributes such as justice or mercy, it is entirely wrong to think of ‘God’ as a person: the concept is far more subtle than that.

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