Thursday, 24 July 2014

*Why* worship God? (And is 'worship' the best word?)

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We might worship God (one God) because of His power, greater far than the power of any other entity - greater far than any 'other god' (as it gets phrased in the Old Testament); indeed, so much greater as to be immeasurably and greater.

This worship may be based upon fear of such power, and the hope that worship will be understood as a submission and a propitiation.

This sees the primary reality as legalistic - in other words, the universe is structured by relationships - and the relevant type of relationships are those which pertain in a 'state' - the relationships between a monarch and his subjects, and the relationships between subjects (of various ranks and roles).

To disbelieve in this concept of God is an act of rebellion against the legitimate monarch; and an anti-social act. 

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We might worship God because he created everything - including the other gods - which is perhaps an extension of worshipping God because of His power.

However, if we were to worship God because he created everything out of nothing, this potentially induces a different flavour to worship. Worship may then be akin to a recognition of fact. The recognition that everything is from-God, part-of God, sustained-by-God.

This is perhaps analogous to recognising and acknowledging that we are inside God. 
So 'worship' may get a more scientific ('physics'-like) flavour - of stating, swearing-to and living-by quasi-scientific propositions that represent this reality.

To disbelieve in this physics-like concept of God is seen as a factual or logical error, due to ignorance or insanity or a lie: a denial of what actually IS. Its harm comes from its dysfunctionality.

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The idea of God as Love is qualitatively different from the above - because it implies that we should love God because He loves us. But why love Him, and why Him above others and as God? What makes love of God different from love of a specific Man?

The answer comes from Him being our Father and us His children,and the value attributed to this primary fact - so, by this 'argument', family relationships take on and replace the 'structural' role which used-to come from God's creation of everything from nothing, or the relationships of monarch and subjects in a state.

To disbelieve in such a God - God as Loving father - is therefore primarily to exclude oneself from God's family - an act of self-exile - a decision to 'go it alone'.

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Whereas a God who is creator of everything from nothing 'ought' to be worshipped as an acknowledgement of the reality that everything depends on Him and everything is inside of Him; and God as legal monarch 'ought' to be worshipped as a matter of good order and proper deference; God as loving Father 'ought' to be worshipped as an acknowledgement of the reality that derives from relationships.

In other words, when God is (primarily) Love; the universe is conceptualized as structured by family relationships. These family relationships become the primary reality and the reason for doing things.

For Christians who regard God as Loving Father, it is relationships which provide the 'ought' that used to be provided by power or status.

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All metaphysical reasoning involves a decision or choice, whether that decision recognized and explicit or unconscious and implicit. the choice is to put some assumption at the root of things: and that fundamental assumption cannot be analyzed or critiqued exactly because it is the primary assumption, and everything else is secondary to it.

When it comes to understanding and conceptualizing God, we are in the realms of metaphysics; and the advent of the Christian revelations of God as Love led to a metaphysical revolution - with the transformation of God as Power, or God as Monarch into God as Father.

And the ultimate rules of this new Christian universe were not physics-like structures, nor were they like laws - but they were like the relationships in a family. 

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So, the primary, bottom line understanding of the structure of reality for a Christian is now family-relational, rather than quasi-scientific or national-legal. 

And the 'worship' of God naturally takes on a different primary flavour - because the proper attitude to God who is primarily understood as our loving Father, is different from the proper attitude to a monarch, or to an infinite power.

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