TWO VISIONS (MODELS) OF GOD AT WAR IN OUR WORLD
by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca) Kingston, Ontario, August 2006
How can visions be at war? The explanation is that it only takes a small minority of those committed to a vision to engage many followers in battle. The ideal would be to let the model prove itself in practice, but men and women are impatient and they prefer to have something to fight for.
What makes our two models so different? And what is the logic of those who are willing to kill for their faith?
In any language the word ‘God’ has no content. This is true whether we speak English (God), French (Dieu), German (Gott), Latin (Deus), Greek (Theos), Hebrew (Elohim), Urdu (Khuda), Hindi (Parmeshwar). In each case content is added by means of metaphor - God is the Creator, God is Almighty, God is eternal, God is loving like a father.
Thinking people all tend to agree about the oneness of God. But there are two ways in which the metaphors added to the name of God are arranged to give shape to the model. In a mathematical model of oneness there can be metaphors such as Eternal (not limited to time), Indivisible (cannot be in parts or divided in any way), Immutable (cannot ever change). The words Loving or Living can never be part of such a model.
The Personality of God is expressed by saying that God is a Living God, like us humans, only more so and far more loving. The definition in the first chapter of Genesis gives us this model of the humanity of God for the remainder of the Bible. "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness . . . So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:26-28). Evidently this statement could never be made if we adopt a mathematical model of God.
Where God is viewed as the Living God, as we find throughout the Bible, you can allow for a great complexity in the way he loves and relates to us in our daily lives. The vision of God as a Trinity enables us to picture three eternal Persons held together by love. That gives us a family vision of the eternal oneness of God. That also helps us to see how we can be drawn into such a loving family relationship.
Obviously this kind of love relationship is impossible if we adopt a mathematical model of God. We can say that God is almighty, eternal, unchangeable, the creator, the judge of our world. In a mathematical vision of God, such as in the pure form of Islam, we can never say that God is love, and God delights in a warm love relationship with humans.
In the past there have been Christians who have engaged in crusades, but God’s love does not use the killing of enemies as a way of persuading them to adopt a vision of love and being loved. We do need to defend our families, and we need a police force and military to defend our nation, but wars of religion are never part of what God has in mind.