I wanted to share some thoughts coming out of our conversations at the Loft LA. You can listen to the podcast of our gatherings here.
As we near the end of the ‘New Gear for the New Year’ series we have two final topics to cover: the Name of God and the End of the World (or the hope of a future).
If you have listened to the series, you will know that we have covered a lot of controversial topics like prayer, sin and conflict.
You might be looking at this week’s topic about the Name of God and think ‘it doesn’t seem to be as contentious as the rest of the topics in the series’.
You would be wrong.
In a post- 9/11 world there are some profound issues related to Name of God. In a positive sense we are going to look at more that 80 Biblical names for God and attempt to flesh out the beauty and depth that has been largely lost in our English translations of the Bible – where everything gets mashed down to either ‘God’ or ‘Lord’. We lose so much when that happens.
We then want to turn from the rich Biblical tradition and look at how it might inform some very real issues in our modern world.
You may have seen on the news last week that in both Indonesia and Malaysia that the courts made decisions about whether Christians are allowed to use ‘Allah’ as a name for God. In many Muslim countries around the globe, Christians adopt the name for God used in the Koran.
The question has to be asked “Is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the same for Jews, Muslims and Christians?”
We call them the ‘Abrahamic faiths’ but are they all praying to the same God? I am going to argue that it is even simpler than that. By looking at the old German god named ‘Gud’ (which is still used in Danish and Scandinavian), we can see how names for God work, evolve, adapt and migrate.
And while we are on the subject, we have to ask about using the masculine ‘He’ when referring to God. In what way are our words used to re-present an idea. Do our words simply stand in for the thing they are supposed to represent?
Are words like road signs? Think of the squiggly-line sign that lets us know that there are winding turns ahead. The sign is inexact in some ways – they don’t tell you the exact number or direction of the twists ahead. The sign is just a symbol that you learn to interpret as you proceed on the road ahead.
So I just wanted to let you know that this week’s topic will be no less complicated than the rest of the series – even if the title looks more docile or simple on the surface.