Can you explain the “nature of God” and what that means to someone personally – how can I think about who/what God is to me.

I’m not quite sure what you’re asking here but here’s my best shot–tell me if this makes sense.

God can be “summed up” (as best we can) in three ways, I think:

1. God is beyond “us.” We can’t really fathom what God is but we know that He is kinda beyond what we come to know as human or “some-thing.” God is the ultimate “other.”

2. God is among us. God, for Christians, in the person of Jesus, is the God who is also “one of us.” For other religions(and in some sense for Christians too), God can be seen in nature, in creativity, in anything that exists and has movement. God is the source of creation and therefore God lives and moves and has being in all things.

3. God is within us. God is the “divine spark” that awakens us to the fact that we are alive. God embues us with our creativity, our gifts and talents, and our limitations as well. As we come to know ourselves and who we are as people we also come to know God–who knows us better than we know ourselves.

The great theologian Karl Rahner defined God as “the inexhaustible one.” He claimed that we can never completely and fully know all that God truly is. We never quite figure God out–which is what makes God-God and us human beings (AKA not God). Rahner even believed that after death God still remains “mystery,” leading us to believe that there is more to life after death.

There are certainly other images of God–some positive (healer, forgiver) and some slightly negative (judge, punisher) that have been used over time. But I think the three above pretty much sum up a good, healthy way to see God intimately working in our lives.

Please let me know if this helps or if you’re looking for something more specific.


Mike Hayes
Associate Director
Paulist Young Adult Ministries

[Mike Hayes fielded this question for Fr. Joe]