Which God?

In a conversation with a student the other day, I learned that her mom is Muslim.  I asked if she was, she said no, that she wasn’t Muslim and “Don’t really consider myself anything.”

I am almost always curious about people’s self-identified religious persuasions, so I pursued this.  She explained that she thinks all the religions are pretty much about the same things anyway, so she wasn’t worried about identifying with any one of them in particular.  Then she uttered the phrase I love to pounce on: “They all serve the same God anyway.”

I asked her how she knows all religions are really about the same god.  She didn’t have an answer for me, but asked politely if she could take some time, at least a day, to think about it.  I happily gave her a day to consider how she knows (or why she thinks) all religions are about the same god.

What do you think?

I asked her “How do you know?” for a very specific reason.  Rather than tell her she is wrong or right, I really want to know why she thinks so.  I want to know why you think what you think about this, too.

A very modern answer would be either yes or no to the question of whether or not all religions follow/serve/worship the same God.  This is because modernity gave us the possibility of a generic god – a bland, albeit powerful being unseen and unseeable, ruling over all the earth.

I ask how you know that all religions do or don’t serve/follow/worship the same god because I contend, against modernity, that the only way we acn know if we serve the same god is to describe god; to tell stories about our god so that others might know if this is the same god they follow.

7 thoughts on “Which God?

  1. Two reasons I don’t think all religions are the same or about the same thing:
    1. I’ve looked at them. Of course, my “looking” has not been as deep or as broad as possible. But I’ve seen enough to determine that some claim there is some sort of god figure while others claim there’s not. Some describe the god figure one way, while others in a contradictory way. Some say the ultimate goal of humanity is a variant of eternal life. Others say the ultimate goal for humanity is avoiding any variant of human life.
    2. I interpret what other religions say charitably. In other words, if what they say sounds completely different than what I believe, I don’t interpret them as “really” meaning what I believe. If they describe the content of their beliefs in a way that contrasts with the content of my own I recognize that as quite possible, even likely.

  2. Have you read Soul Searching by Christian Smith? The movie or the dvd? I’ve been working with it to construct a parent seminar out of it and it has been very interesting.

  3. That’s a good question to consider. I feel like you could almost make the argument that there are groups in Christianity that worship a different God. Maybe it’s just their outlook or interpretation of the same God, but there are times when it seems like a completely different deity.

    One the one hand one group of practicing Christians says that God would vote for person B and never vote for person A, but another group of practicing Christians declare that God would never vote for person B and never vote for person A.

    The depth of research people can do into other faiths and religions can often times send us spinning in circles. My personal belief is that God made known to people other than Christians. Paul quotes the Greek philosophers at Mars Hill and links what they are saying to what God and Jesus said. The Greek philosophers weren’t followers of Christ but they still spoke Godly truths.

    I like to believe that I serve a God bigger than my religion who makes himself known to all people despite who they or others believe they are serving.

  4. I have no doubt God is bigger than my understanding or my religion. But, on the other hand, I do not understand how two groups who describe mutually exclusive attributes of god ought merely to slough off their understandings in favor of their being just one god.

  5. One of my favorite authors, L.M. Montgomery, tackled this in her little novel, “Emily of New Moon.” (She also wrote “Anne of Green Gables”, for those of you for whom the name doesn’t ring a bell). Emily conceptualizes God as being a different God according to what the person believes about Him …

    I think that it is no more true to say that just because two different faiths are monotheistic, they must be worshipping the same God, than to say that the Norse gods and the Hindu gods are all interchangeable (although some that study such things have suggested that, too).

    Monotheism just makes it harder to conceptualize the split. If you are polytheistic, you can just say, “Oh, that’s just another god we don’t know about” (isn’t that what they said at Mars Hill?) but if you’re monotheistic, and declare that your God is almighty, omniscient, etc., that doesn’t leave any room for “adding on” to a pantheon. SO the choices become “either/or” or “it’s all the same God.”

    That said, I do believe that Judaism and Christianity serve the same God.

    I think that the phrase, “well we all serve the same God” most of the time means “I would prefer not to commit to any system that requires something of me.”

  6. I think “all religions follow the same thing” usually means “I’ve given every religion the same amount of non-consideration, so they all seem the same. They all involve some kind of faith and some kind of action, the end.”

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