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This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

Why is my God, or your God, better than someone else’s God?

Thomas Ryan, CSP Answers:

Q. There are so many names for God, Allah, Yazad, Harvesp-Tavaan ect. why is my God or your God better than someone else’s God? Who is the true God?

A. It’s not surprising that different cultures of the world in different historic contexts come up with different names for God. Words — names for God — are essentially just pointers to the Divine. Words and their meaning are shaped by culture and historic context. What is significant, though, is that Jews, Christians, Musims, Zoroastrians, all agree that there is only one God. So it is not that my God or your God is better than someone else’s God. It is rather that each religion has the conviction that it has received a special, fuller revelation from that one God and that its followers are called to be faithful to what God asks of them in and through that revelation.

And it’s not as though those experienced revelations are asking diametrically opposed things from them. If you look at the major religions of the world, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Native religions along with those mentioned above, you will also see that they are more similar than dissimilar in how they understand the spiritual quest. The aim of the quest is the same: union with God and with everyone and everything else. In all these great spiritual traditions the path to union is understood as coming through love and compassion. Further, they all teach that happiness and joy are a byproduct of something else — of trying to create joy and happiness for someone else. As St. Francis of Assisi put it: it is in giving that we receive.

And all these spiritual traditions agree that the spiritual journey will be partly mystery. The God we meet cannot be contained in our words and images and is ultimately indescribable. So should it surprise us that the peoples of the world living in different cultural and historical contexts employ different words and names to describe their experience of the one, true God who is, ultimately, Mystery.

 
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The Author : Thomas Ryan, CSP
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in Washington, D.C.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • StOoPiD_MoNkEy

    If you god is ultimately indescribable, then how do you know there is a god? See the problem. If it’s a mystery then how can you even say to know anything about it. If you know nothing about it then how can you even begin to say it exists?

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