I was recently asked what my working definition of God is, particularly in connection with trying to get other people to relate to Him.
It's a tough question to answer, because as any sincere spiritual seeker can tell you, the more you try to 'know' God, the more you come to understand that God is unknowable.
When you're happy to trot out pat definitions of God, that's usually because you have absolutely no idea about what you're really talking about.
Yes, 'God is love' - on a very deep level - but try telling that to someone who's experiencing terrible suffering or bereavement. 'God is great' also works, partially, but again, it's like trying to describe an elephant by telling someone it's big. Clearly, there's a lot of the picture missing.
Judaism recognises that God can't really be defined in human terms, which is why it doesn't try to describe God at all; it just describes some of the ways that God manifests Himself in the world.
The Hebrew word Elokim, for example, is describing God when He's acting with strength and judgement. The name YKVK describes God's attribute of unconditional loving kindness and mercy, and so on and so forth. Judaism has loads of different names for God, but even those are only used on the firm understanding that humans can't really grasp, define or understand the Creator of the world.
So where does all this leave me, and my working definition? after some pondering, I decided that the best way that I could even approach a definition of God would be by defining what He is NOT. So here goes:
There's always more to say, because God is infinite and unknowable, but without writing a whole book on the subject, that will probably do for now. What do you think? What's your working definition of God?
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