The Names of Gods or of the One and Only God?

I was taking my early Friday morning walk at the mall recently when I passed the men’s barber shop, one of the few places that was already open. I couldn’t help noticing a lone book on a shelf inside–The Names of God.

I’m not familiar with that book, so I’m neither praising nor criticizing it, but it did make me do some thinking. With a name like that, it could mean either of two things.

The book could be about the  various names given to the Christian God of  the Bible. If you want to see some examples of what I’m talking about, check this website.

Or it could mean the exact opposite. Many religions refer to their deities as “god.” Probably billions of people not only believe all of them are valid, but that every path leads to their “god” and that he’s essentially the same as everybody else’s god.

Christians often take heat from non-believers about our intolerance of anything but Christianity. And our refusal to accept every religion as a legitimate pathway to God.

We have a friend who considers himself both Muslim and Christian. Jesus plays an important role in Islam, but He’s not the Son of Allah or anything more than a very important prophet. Our friend believes that all ways to God are good–and asks that we not try to proselytize him. He thinks he’s fine in his beliefs.

Despite his study of the Bible, he apparently doesn’t understand that Christians base our “one God” theology on what Jesus Himself says in the Bible. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.”

That’s pretty clear cut, don’t you think?

One other thing I’d like to mention while I’m thinking about it. Christianity is not actually a religion. A religion is a belief system in which followers must live up to whatever standards their whatever-called deity has established. Standards that are necessary to please the deity and attain whatever rewards fulfilling them results in.

Trying to be “good” is admirable, but trying to be “good enough” to earn God’s favor is something else: Impossible.

That’s because Christianity is a relationship. Each believer has his or her own relationship with God through faith in Jesus as the only one who could ever be “good enough” to make us acceptable to God. That’s how we become “Children of God.”

Is that relationship aspect of Christianity something you’re already familiar with? Does it make sense? Please leave a comment, even if you disagree with anything I’ve said.

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“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

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Best regards,
Roger

 

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2 thoughts on “The Names of Gods or of the One and Only God?

  1. um… I do not know what to say. To confess Christianity, in all it’s rainbow hues, is not a religion is very tall grass to wade through. Whereas I do not recognize some purported religions as real (think Mormonism as a good example), Christianity is, in fact, a religion. Some folks may want to call it relationship based, but that is just one facet of it’s belief system.
    There are definite things, let’s call them principles, that must guide a Christians’ life. Love thy neighbor as onesself. Do unto others… etc. To think that one can just willfully ignore these precepts given to us directly from Jesus and say, nope, I’m saved, I dont even want to bother with that because I have a relationship with god, is wrongheaded.
    As in any relationship, one who knows his partner will do things to make him/her happy. Not by obligation out of love. This same thing should be manifest in one who confesses a relationship with god.
    It is unseemly to me to see so many people who say I’m not perfect but forgiven as if they have a real excuse for doing what they please. I don’t know… This is one of the reasons I’m so turned off by so called Christians…

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  2. Tom, I’m really thankful for your response and the chance to talk a bit about what you’ve said.

    Yes, there are principles that ought to guide a Christian’s life and, yes, Christians should obey them out of love rather than obligation. In the Christian relationship with God through Christ, the Believer should be continually seeking to grow more Christlike. Not because he can ever become good enough to pay God back for what He’s done, but out of gratitude.

    You’re certainly correct that some so-called Believers use God’s forgiveness as an excuse to keep on sinning. Protestants tend to view the idea of going to confession as the Catholic method of excusing sin and continuing to do it. I mention that mostly because of your childhood background.

    One of the New Testament authors specifically condemned continuing to sin and using as an excuse that God has already forgiven the Christians’ sins, so why shouldn’t they? I’m afraid I know some Christians who ignore that teaching.

    What further complicates things is the fact that some Christian denominations have gotten away from the relationship nature of Christianity and made themselves rules-based. They seem to have forgotten that Jesus freed them from the Old Testament law and established love–love for God, love for other people–as the law that stands above all others.

    The relationship factor of Christianity is two-fold. A person becomes a Christian by admitting his own sinfulness and accepting Christ’s redemption. That’s the Savior relationship. But what too many people fail to do is accept the Lord relationship–letting God be in control of their lives.

    Failure to do that doesn’t keep them from being “saved,” but it certainly cheats them of the real joy of Christianity and serving God because we want to please Him.

    Take care, Tom. I pray for you daily, my friend.

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