How big is your God?

Here in the Grand Rapids area we have had an interfaith Thanksgiving service the past couple of years. It has been organized by GRACE (Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism), the Interfaith Dialogue Association and others. Last year, I participated in it at a Conservative Jewish temple. I played guitar with a Hindu group that did chanting. There were Moslems, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, etc.. I thought it was a wonderful evening. It was so well attended that more chairs had to be put out at the last minute to accommodate everyone. Most stayed for refreshments and fellowship afterward. I might dare say it was a taste of heaven.

However, this year some influential conservative pastors have criticized GRACE for having Christians pray with persons of other faiths who worship different gods or no god. GRACE is experiencing financial difficulties and fearing the loss of funds has withdrawn from the celebration. This is most unfortunate.

How are we ever going to learn to get along, both within this country and internationally, if we can’t learn to accept and respect our various faiths. If God is really God, there must only be one. However, that one God manifests in different ways to different people in different times and places according to their understanding. God becomes known by different names, with different attributes according to language and culture. Why just look at the widely differing views of God within Christianity. How can anyone claim to have a lock on God? God is unknowable except by revelation and even then only partially. No one can know God fully or it would not be God. Many Christians believe Jesus is the final, only and ultimate revelation of God. Even liberal Christians call this Jesusolitry. Jesus is one revelation among many. If you want to follow him, fine, but don’t deny others who want to follow other manifestations of God or Goddess.

I am happy to see many letters to the editor of the Grand Rapids Press refuting this narrow mindedness. Yesterday there was even a fair and favorable article by the religion editor about local pagans who held a festival here a couple of weeks ago. I also gave a workshop there. Of course, I don’t have a problem with different faiths (except those who’s view of God is too small) because I draw wisdom and inspiration from many of them. God’s grace and truth are still being revealed to us in many new and unexpected ways. Let us be open to God working in our lives and not try to limit God.

ShalOm,

Steve


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