|OCTOBER 2004||DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE||
LOVE, THE ESSENCE OF GOD IN THREE RELIGIONS
1. HOMOOUSION TO PATRI (OF THE SAME ESSENCE AS OF THE FATHER)
The most debated and controversial phrase of the Nicene Creed is the sub-title of this article. Arius objected to its use and St. Athanasius asserted its validity and the synod of Nicea accepted it. Today all those who consider the Nicene Constantinopolitan symbol (The Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches) as the central creed of the Church, recite it with the homoousion to patri (of the same essence or substance as of the Father), what is modern meaning of ousia or essence.
This brief article is a Theological discussion as to the meaning of ousia or essence. Is it omnipotence or omnipresence or omniscience? It is clear from the holy Bible that during the thirty-three and half years of His incarnation, He did not use these attributes of the power, but hid them in Himself like latent heat of energy. The one essence of Holy Trinity is divine love, the one essence of Triune God. He manifested Himself fully by His kenotic Incarnation. His teachings and His ministry, redeeming death, descent into Hades, resurrection and appearances. His Ascension and His promise of return, when "all knees in heaven, earth and Hades will confess His Lordship to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10) The Church Fathers agree that Christ came to die for humanity.
God is not faith or hope; "God is love" (1 John 4:8 & 16) Faith and hope are the essence of Man, Woman and Child. Love is the essence of God. Faith and hope are from below. Love of God is from above (1 John 4:7-12) Faith and hope has barriers, but divine love has no barriers. God's love gives rain to the just and the unjust. Christ, the revealer of the truth that "God is love" for those who crucified Him and descended to the Hades to save those who were punished for disobedience to repent according to the Sermons of Noah (1 Peter 3:18-20). Furthermore, the only criterion for sheep at the right hand was that they found Jesus in the form of the hungry, thirsty, naked and in prison. The only sins of the goats on the left side was that they were selfish and did not love and share for the poor and the needy (Matthew 25:31-46) There is a story that, Mother Theresa and other loving missionaries chose hell rather than heaven till hell is emptied. (Karl Barth). All humanity in hell must also be saved.
Of the same essence as of the father, thus means, of the same divine love as of the heavenly Father. In the O.T. Revelation through Moses the prophet is "You shall be holy as the Lord your God is holy [Lev. 19;21]The revelation through the eternal Son of God is "you shall be holy Love as the Holy Trinity is perfect Holy Love". A monad God can be holy, but only a Triune God can be eternal sharing love in eternity. Jehovah or Allah is exclusive unity. Trinity is inclusive Monotheism.
2. EKATHA, ADVAITHA AND THRAI EKATHA
In Kevaladvaithatha of Sree Shankaracharya the ultimate Brahman is ONE WITHOUT A SECOND (EKAM EVA ADVAITHIYAM). In semetic religion of Judaism, Jehovah is exclusive monotheism. Similarly Islam teaches; "There is no other God except Allah and Mohammed His prophet." It also adds that Allah is compassionate God. Hinduism is the most tolerant religion as it separates personal spirituality as superior to all religions. Islamic liberal Theologians are not fundamentalists but they do not give due importance to the attribute of compassion of Allah and believe what the Israelites believed during the days of the conquest of Canaan that all the heathens should be terminated by the command of Jehovah. We live in the third millennium, respecting the spirituality of all religionists and seeking out what is universally beneficial spirituality.
I beg to submit that while we dig deep, there is a quest for spirituality of love underneath all religions. We must examine the various scriptures with an open mind, not covered by selfish fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism is worse than secular fundamentalism. Bagavad Gita teaches Bhakthi Marga for the devotional types, Jnana Marga for intellectuals, and Karma Marga for active types. However, love of Isvara is a prerequiste for all. Sree Rama was an embodiment of love and compassion, by which he chose vanavassa, the way of the cross for fourteen years.
Sree Budha, of course, taught Ahimsa and love as ultimate ethic. Theoretically Budhistic spiritually is atheistic, but practically, Buddha takes the place of God. Although some claim that there is direct mysticism, all mysticism is mediatory. The mediator can be Jesus Christ for Christians, Buddha for Buddhists, Holy Quran or Mohammed for the Muslims, the Vedas or Upanishadic Sutras for the different Hindus or Jaina for Jainists, or Sree Narayana Guru for Ezhava or Brahman for Jeevan muktas, who claim they have emerged in to Brahma must have done so through the mediation Brahma or Nirguna Brahma as explained by particular gurus.
The major difference between Hindu spirituality and Christian spirituality is that the former is personal and later is social. The mystery behind is the difference between advaitha Brahmin and Social God. In Hinduism, plurality is due to subjective avidya (ignorance) and its objective maya. In Christianity divine love is unity with the eternal Father, eternal Son, Logos=Christ and eternal mother, the Holy Spirit. As there is unity in sat, chit and ananda, in Hindu Vedas, the unity in the Triunity of Triune God is the Ousia or essence of divine love. Even if we take an earthly example the love of parents demands the child. Parents without a child is very unsatisfied and unhappy till a child is born or at least adopted. Love of giving and receiving alone is imperfect without unselfish sharing.
3. EXCLUSIVE OR TRUINE MONOTHEISM
Jurgen Moltman of Tubingen University writes as follows in his famous book, trinity and Kingdom of God(SCM PRESS, London '81) The monotheistic God is the lord of the word, he is defined simply through His power of disposal, over the property, not through personality, and personal relationships. He really has no name - merely legal titles. But the Triune God represents an inexhaustible life, a life which the three persons have in common, in which they are present with one another, for one another and in one another. What the doctrine of trinity calls perichoresis was also understood by patristic theologians as the sociality of three divine persons" (P, 198)
I may add that the essence ousia of the Triune God as agape is the unity of the Trinity. Agape of the Son and Holy Spirit is one. It was St. John Damascus who first popularized the word perichoresis to explain the commonality and interdependence of the functions of the Triune God. Creation, for example, is the work of the Father through the Logos Son and the perfecting by the Holy Spirit. There are no watertight compartments in the functioning of the Holy Trinity. After the controversy about the sameness of the ousia of the Son with that of the Father was settled, Macedonians urged that the ousia of the Holy Spirit was different from that of the Father, but St. Basil in his classical treatment Spirit Sanctu established that the Holy Spirit also is homoousion to Patri. It is worthy of note that in Gal 5:22, the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit are enumerated, not in plural, but in singular, "fruit of the spirit in love". The earlier passage dealing with the works of the flesh are rightly enumerated in the plural. This indicates that if we have love, the essence of God, other eight fruits will follow naturally. A monad God cannot be love with none to share the love, the essence of God. Similarly, a dualistic God can only give and receive love like a husband and wife, without a child to share love together. This exclusive monotheism must enlarge its theism to an all-inclusive Trinitarian monotheism, which alone can understand the depth of GOD IS LOVE.
4. BRAHMAMIC OM, CHRISTIAN LOGOS=CHRIST, ISLAMIC COMPASSIONATE ALLAH
This title is very misleading to the devotees of popular Hinduism, also who claim that Brahman is the God of Hindus alone. Jesus Christ is the God of Christians alone and Alla is the God of Islam alone. My understanding of God is that God has no part or parties, He is eternal, omniscient omnipresent omnipotent Creator, preserver, the ultimate origin and destiny, the living Father of all things visible and invisible, with the image of the creator of the human beings, the crown of creation, the universe being the indispensable cradle for humanity.
Of course there will be difference between the Semitic doctrines of creation exnihilo, and from emanation from Brahman. Faith and philosophies are different from the religion and even from one person to another and from one sect to another. Giving a large margin for such difference all theologians of theistic religions will agree with Paul Tillich, that religion is ultimate concern and that God is the Ground of Being. My conviction is that the Ground of Being is the same as OM of Advaitha Hinduism, Orthodox Christian Logos incarnate Christ, who revealed God as triune Love and liberal Muslims who believe God as compassionate, as written at the beginning of every Surah of the Holy Quran. Is not compassion the same as love? The Nicene Creed asserts that "Jesus Christ is very God of very God". In the book of Revelation Jesus Christ is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, or OM.
There are those who believe that religions are relative and personal spirituality is ultimate putting the personal above socialism is a Capitalistic Myth and pitting a social above the personal is a socialistic myth. Adam is not a proper name but a common name including male and female (Gem 5:2 ff). Without the unity of two a child will not be born as Holy Trinity unites singularity and plurality, It is OM and compassionate Allah and advaita is not Monism. It is the mystery of Triunity of Godhead in the bond of divine love. My thesis is that the Father's love and that of the Son and that of Holy Spirit is the essence (Ousia) of divine eternal love.
May I conclude that this millennium beckons us to consider the thesis of this article that Holiness and Love are the essence of God who is Compassionate Allah, OM, Triune God of Holy love Whom we must all worship adore and emulate.
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