Is God one thing, 3 things, 99 things, or what?

Sometimes I think that if more Christians and muslims got together to discuss religion, the better off we’d be. Think about this, every muslim I have ever talked to is unable to comprehend the trinity. They have been taught from a very early age that the trinity is equivalent to three distinct gods. Many muslims have told me that God can only be one thing, not three. I’ve always found this silly, after all God can be whatever He wants to be. If He chooses to present Himself in three ways, what’s to stop Him? What I also found interesting was that even though they were adamant in their view of God being one thing only, they regularly think of Him in many different ways.

Curiously enough, many Christians do claim that God is only one thing. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “God is love.” For the record, I think that anytime someone says that God is “x,” you can follow it up with “Yes, but…” Anyway, whereas many Christians say that they have a single, tripartite God that is one thing (love), muslims have a single, monotonic god that is at least 99 things!

In Islamic tradition, there are 99 names of God. Yes, “the Lover” is included in there along with “the Majestic,” “the Vast,” “the Truth,” and more. Interestingly enough, there are also names like “the Avenger,” “the Destroyer,” and “the Bringer of Death.” I really do think that muslims have a broader view of God than most Christians do. They have both the nice and frightening aspects of Him in mind.

In the Christian world, there is a split. Typically, the evangelicals and more conservative Protestant groups concentrate in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. This shows God as wrathful, jealous, judgmental, and lots of other scary things. On the other hand, the more moderate and liberal churches tend to concentrate on the Gospels only. That shows God as a forgiving, loving one. I find it rare to meet a Christian that can keep both views in mind at the same time.

That’s really just a long winded way of saying that people are funny when it comes to how they think about God. We swear that He is one thing, and then proceed to break HIm into three or think about Him in 99 ways. In truth, there are an endless number of attributes to God. It would be nice if we could all talk together and appreciate how the other “side” thinks.

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