In Search Of God

Have you ever wondered how we came about God, or vise versa ? How much or little do you know about God ? Where did your knowledge start from and where is it taking you ?

God has not always been known as “God”. In fact God is a Germanic name for deified reference to the unitary concept of deity — which is in simple terms described as an intelligent consciousness of infinite spiritual substance. It has for ages been accepted that “God”, under many local aliases underlies or permeates through the whole natural and physical universe, and is therefore said to be both its “creator and ruler.” We worship God; daily we seek “His” favours ; and we believe that it is important to have a direct or mediated relationship with “Him.” However, it is really impossible to observe God much
beyond the limit of our separate cultures and that is why separate cultures have developed distinct and particular concepts of faith and worship, which are the foundations for the world’s various ethnic-traditional belief systems.

Concepts of God varies widely, despite the use of the same term for them all, and these conceptual differences are the fundamental distinctions between various religious definitions. According to monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or (in critical context) the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, God may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction: as a powerful, human-like, supernatural being, or as the deification of an esoteric, mystical or philosophical category, the Ultimate, the summum bonum, the Absolute Infinite, the Transcendent, or Existence or Being itself, the “ground of being,”that which we cannot understand, etc. The “universalists” view God as available to all, though often only through particular methods and traditions. Most ethnic religions believe in a “supreme being” but may hold sharply ethnocentric views of God’s “nature” and God’s “plan.

The noun God is the proper English name used for the deity of monotheistic faiths. Different names for God exist within different religious traditions:
§ Allah is the Arabic name of God, which is used by Arab Muslims and also by most non-Muslim Arabs. ilah, cognate to northwest Semitic El (Hebrew “El” or more specifically “Eloha”, Aramaic “Eloi”), is the generic word for a god (any deity), Allah contains the article, literally “The God”. Also, when speaking in English, Muslims often translate “Allah” as “God”. One Islamic tradition states that Allah has 99 names while others say that all good names belong to Allah. Similarly, in the Aramaic of Jesus, the word Alaha is used for the name of God.
§ Yahweh, Jehovah (Hebrew: ‘Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay’, ??-?? ) are some of the names used for God in various translations of the Bible (all translating the same four letters – YHVH). El, and the plural/majestic form Elohim, is another term used frequently, though El can also simply mean god in reference to deities of other religions. Others include El Shaddai, Adonai, Amanuel, and Amen. When Moses asked “What is your name?” he was given the answer Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, which literally means, “I am that I am,” as a parallel to the Tetragrammaton Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay. See The name of God in Judaism for Jewish names of God. Most Orthodox Jews, and many Jews of other denominations, believe it wrong to write the word “God” on any substance which can be destroyed. Therefore, they will write “G-d” as what they consider a more respectful symbolic representation. Others consider this unnecessary because English is not the “Holy Language” (i.e. Hebrew), but still will not speak the Hebrew representation written in the Torah, “Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay”, aloud, and will instead use other names such as “Adonai” (“my Lord”, used in prayer, blessings and other religious rituals) or the euphemism “Hashem” (literally “The Name”, used at all other times). Another name especially used by ultra-Orthodox Jews is “HaKadosh Baruch Hu”, meaning “The Holy One, Blessed is He”.

§ Elohim as “God” (with the plural suffix -im, but always used with singular agreement); often used to present the Holy Trinity
§ The Holy Trinity (one God in three Persons, the God the Father, the God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit) denotes God in almost all Christianity. Arab Christians will often also use “Allah” (the noun for “God” in Arabic) to refer to God.
§ Deus, cognate of the Greek ?e?? (Zeus) is the Latin word for God, and will be used in Latin portions of Roman Catholic masses. [2] It is also used to denote God by some Deists, Pandeists, Pantheists, and followers of similars non-Theistic beliefs.
§ God is called Igzi’abihier (lit. “Lord of the Universe”) or Amlak (lit. the plural of mlk, “king” or “lord”) in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
§ Jah is the name of God in the Rastafari movement.
§ Jinjo
§ The Maasai name for “God” is Ngai, which occurs in the volcano name Ol Doinyo Lengai (“the mountain of God”).
§ The Mi’kmaq name for “God” is Niskam.
§ Some churches (United Church of Canada, Religious Science) are using “the One” alongside “God” as a more gender-neutral way of referring to God (See also Oneness).
§ Ishvara is the term used for God among the Hindus. In Sanskrit, it means the Supreme Lord. Most Hindus worship the personal form of God or Saguna Brahman, as Vishnu, Shiva, or directly as the Supreme Cosmic Spirit Brahman through the Gayatri mantra. A common prayer for Hindus is the Vishnu sahasranama, which is a hymn describing the one thousand names of God. Ishvara must not be confused with the numerous deities of the Hindus. In modern Hindi, Ishvara is also called Bhagavan.
§ Baquan is a phonetical pronunciation for God in several Pacific Islander religions.
§ Buddhism is non-theistic (see God in Buddhism): instead of extolling an anthropomorphic creator God, Gautama Buddha employed negative theology to avoid speculation and keep the undefined as ineffable . Buddha believed the more important issue was to bring beings out of suffering to liberation.

Enlightened ones are called Arhats or Buddha (e.g, the Buddha Sakyamuni), and are venerated. A bodhisattva is an altruistic being who has vowed to attain Buddhahood in order to help others to become Awakened (“Buddha”) too. Buddhism also teaches of the existence of the devas or heavenly beings who temporarily dwell in celestial states of great happiness but are not yet free from the cycle of reincarnations (samsara). Some Mahayana and Tantra Buddhist scriptures do express ideas which are extremely close to pantheism, with a cosmic Buddha (Adibuddha) being viewed as the sustaining Ground of all being – although this is
very much a minority vision within Buddhism.
§ Jains invoke the five paramethis: Siddha, Arahant, Acharya, Upadhyaya, Sadhu. The arhantas include the 24 Tirthankaras from Lord Rishabha to Mahavira. But Jain philosophy as such does not recognize any Supreme Omnipotent creator God.
§ Sikhs worship God with these common names Waheguru Wondrous God, Satnaam (True is Your Name), Akal (the Eternal) or Onkar (some similarity to the Hindu Aum). When reciting these names, devotion, dedication and a genuine appreciation and acceptance of the Almighty and His blessings is essential if one is to gain anything by the meditation. Just mechanical reciting of the words brings little advantage to the devotee. Help of the Guru is essential to reach God.
§ In Surat Shabda Yoga, names used for God include Anami Purush (nameless power) and Radha Swami (lord of the soul, symbolized as Radha).
§ The Bahá’í Faith refers to God using the local word for God in whatever language is being spoken. In the Bahá’í Writings in Arabic, Allah is used.

Bahá’ís share some naming traditions with Islam, but see “Bahá” (Glory or Splendour) as The Greatest Name of God. God’s names are seen as his attributes, and God is often, in prayers, referred to by these titles and attributes.
§ Zoroastrians worship Ahura Mazda.
§ To many Native American religions, God is called “The Great Spirit”, “The Master of Life”, “The Master of Breath”, or “Grandfather”. For example, in the Algonquian first nations culture, Gitche Manitou or “Great Spirit” was the name adopted by French missionaries for the Christian God. Other similar names may also be used.
§ Followers of Eckankar refer to God as SUGMAD or HU; the latter name is pronounced as a spiritual practice.
§ In Chinese , the name Shang Ti ?? (Hanyu Pinyin: shàng dì) (literally King Above), is the name given for God in the Standard Mandarin Union Version of the Bible. Shen ? (lit. spirit, or deity) was also adopted by Protestant missionaries in China to refer to the Christian God.

Most theologians attempt to explicate beliefs; and some merely express their own experience of the divine. Theologians ask questions such as, ‘What is the nature of God?’ ‘What does it mean for God to be singular?’ ‘If people believe in God as a duality or trinity, what do these terms signify?’ ‘Is God transcendent, immanent, or some mix of the two?’ ‘What is the relationship between God and the universe, and God and humankind?’
It is also important to note that most major religions hold God not as a metaphor, but a being that influences our day-to-day existences. This is to say that people who have rejected the teachings of such religions typically view God as a metaphor or stand-in for the common aspirations and beliefs all humans share, rather than a sentient part of life; whereas organized religion tends to believe the opposite. The limit of such concepts is undelined in the book
“Everything The Religions Know about God” -(http://tinyurl.com/nw077 )

What are the most popular bodies of belief about God’s in relation to the world ?
Theism– holds that God exists realistically, objectively, and independently of human thought; that God created and sustains everything; that God is omnipotent and eternal, and is personal, interested and answers prayer. It holds that God is both transcendent and immanent; thus, God is simultaneously infinite and in some way present in the affairs of the world. Catholic theology holds that God is infinitely simple and is not involuntarily subject to time.

Most theists hold that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, although this belief raises questions about God’s responsibility for evil and suffering in the world. Some theists ascribe to God a self-conscious or purposeful limiting of omnipotence, omniscience, or benevolence. Open Theism, by contrast, asserts that, due to the nature of time, God’s omniscience does not mean he can predict the future. “Theism” is sometimes used to refer in general to any belief in a god or gods, i.e., monotheism or polytheism.

Deism – holds that God is wholly transcendent: God exists, but does not intervene in the world beyond what was necessary for God to create it. In this view, God is not anthropomorphic, and does not literally answer prayers or cause miracles to occur. Common in Deism is a belief that God has no interest in humanity and may not even be aware of humanity. Pandeism and Panendeism, respectively, combine Deism with the Pantheistic or Panentheistic beliefs .

What are the most popular beliefs about the entity of God?
Monotheism– holds that there is only one God, and/or that the one true God is worshipped in different religions under different names. It is important to note, however, that monotheists of one religion can, and often do, consider the monotheistic god of a different religion to be a false god. For instance, many Christian fundamentalists consider the God of Islam (Allah) to be a false god or demon. However, theologians and linguists argue that “Allah” is merely the Arabic word for “God,” and not the literal name of a specifically Muslim God (this is more clearly shown by the fact that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews refer to God as “Allah” with no problem whatsoever). To Muslims, the Bible is a holy scripture and Jesus is a Holy Prophet, so Islam is considered a
continuation of Christianity. Many Jews consider the messiah of Christianity (Jesus) to be a false god and some monotheists (notably fundamentalist Christians) hold that there is one triune God, and that all gods of other religions are actually demons in disguise (as in 2nd Corinthians 11 verse 14).

Eastern religious believers and liberal Christians are more likely to assume those of other faiths worship the same God as they, just under a different name and/or form. Muslims believe that Jesus, although the Messiah and one of the holy Prophets, is not the son of God, because relating God to any partners or spouses or offspring is considered blasphemy and apostasy.

Pantheism– holds that God is the universe and the universe is God. Panentheism holds that God contains, but is not identical to, the Universe. The distinctions between the two are subtle, and some consider them unhelpful. It is also the view of the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophy, Hinduism, some divisions of Buddhism, and Taoism, along with many varying denominations and individuals within denominations. Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, paints a pantheistic/panentheistic view of God – which has wide acceptance in Hasidic Judaism, particularly from their founder The Baal Shem Tov – but only as an addition to the Jewish view of a personal god, not in the original pantheistic sense that denies or limits persona to God.

Dystheism– is a form of theism which holds that God is malevolent as a consequence of the problem of evil. Dystheistic speculation is common in theology, but there is no known church of practicing dystheists.

Nontheism– holds that the universe can be explained without any reference to the supernatural, or to a supernatural being. Some non-theists avoid the concept of God, whilst accepting that it is significant to many; other non-theists understand God as a symbol of human values and aspirations.

Now where is your belief (or unbelief) likely to eventually land you ? Religions that teach about heaven differ on how (and if) one gets into it. In most, entrance to Heaven is conditional on having lived a “good life” (within the terms of the spiritual system). A notable exception to this is the ‘sola fide’ belief of mainstream Protestantism, which takes emphasis off having lived a “good life” and teaches that entrance to heaven is conditional on belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ assuming the guilt of the sinner, rather than any other good or bad ‘works’ one has participated in. Dual-covenant theology is a variant of this belief that exempts Jews from having to adopt Jesus as savior as a condition for entry to Heaven. Many religions state that those who do not go to heaven go to a place of punishment, Hell, which may or may not be eternal . A very few (the followers of universalism) believe that everyone will go to
Heaven eventually, no matter what they have done or believed on earth. Some religions believe in other afterlives.

The Bahá’í Faith on the other hand regards the conventional description of heaven (and hell) as a specific place as symbolic. Instead the Bahá’í writings describe heaven as a “spiritual condition” where closeness to God is defined as heaven; conversely hell is seen as a state of remoteness from God.

Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, has stated that the nature of the life of the soul in the afterlife is beyond comprehension in the physical plane, but has stated that the soul will retain its consciousness and individuality and remember its physical life; the soul will be able to recognize other souls and communicate with them.

In summary, there are almost as many descriptions of heaven, or the afterlife destination as there are local names and descriptions for God. But which one is true , which one is a prime representation of the atributes of God. The truth is that only God knows.

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