God in Abrahamic religions
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes called Abrahamic religions because they all accept the tradition of the God (known as Yahweh in Hebrew and Allah in Arabic) that revealed himself to the prophet Abraham. The theological traditions of all Abrahamic religions are thus to some extent influenced by the depiction of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, and the historical development of monotheism in the history of Judaism.
The Abrahamic God in this sense is the conception of God that remains a common attribute of all three traditions. God is conceived of as eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and as the creator of the universe. God is further held to have the properties of holiness, justice, omni-benevolence and omnipresence. Proponents of Abrahamic faiths believe that God is also transcendent, meaning that he is outside space and outside time and therefore not subject to anything within his creation, but at the same time a personal God, involved, listening to prayer and reacting to the actions of his creatures.
The Bahá'í writings describe a monotheistic, personal, inaccessible, omniscient, omnipresent, imperishable, and almighty God who is the creator of all things in the universe. The existence of God and the universe is thought to be eternal, without a beginning or end.
Though transcendent and inaccessible directly, God is nevertheless seen as conscious of creation, with a will and purpose that is expressed through messengers termed Manifestations of God. The purpose of creation is for the created to have the capacity to know and love its creator, through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to humankind. God communicates his will and purpose to humanity through intermediaries, known as Manifestations of God, who are the prophets and messengers who have founded religions from prehistoric times up to the present day.
The Manifestations of God reflect divine attributes, which are creations of God made for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment, onto the physical plane of existence. In the Bahá'í view, all physical beings reflect at least one of these attributes, and the human soul can potentially reflect all of them. The Bahá'í view rejects all pantheistic, anthropomorphic, and incarnationist beliefs in God.
Christianity originated within the realm of Second Temple Judaism and thus shares most of its beliefs about God, including his omnipotence, omniscience, his role as creator of all things, his personality, Immanence, transcendence and ultimate unity and supremacy, with the innovation that Jesus of Nazareth is considered to be in one way or another, the fulfillment of ancient prophecy or the completion of the Law of the prophets of Israel.
Most Christian denominations believe Jesus to be the incarnation of God as a human being, which is the main theological divergence with respect to Judaism and Islam. Although personal salvation is implicitly stated in Judaism, personal salvation by grace and a recurring emphasis in right beliefs is particularly emphasized in Christianity, often contrasting this with a perceived over-emphasis in law observance as stated in canon Jewish law, where it is contended that a belief in an intermediary between man and God is against the Noahide laws, and thus not monotheistic.
For most Christians, beliefs about God are enshrined in the doctrine of Trinitarianism, which holds that the three persons of the trinity are distinct but all of the same indivisible essence, meaning that the Father is God, the Holy spirit is God and the Son is God yet there is one God as there is one indivisible essence. The doctrines were largely formalized at the Council of Nicaea and are enshrined in the Nicene creed. The Trinitarian view emphasizes that God has a will, and that God the Son has two wills, divine and human, though these are never in conflict but joined in the hypostatic union.
In the Mormonism represented by most of Mormon communities (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), God means Elohim (the Father), whereas Godhead means a council of three distinct gods; Elohim, Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit is a spirit and does not have a body. This conception differs from the traditional Christian Trinity; in Mormonism, the three persons are considered to be physically separate beings, or personages, but united in will and purpose. As such, the term Godhead differs from how it is used in traditional Christianity. This description of God represents the orthodoxy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), established early in the 19th century.
In Islam, God is believed to be the only real supreme being, all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular (tawhid). He is unique (wahid) and inherently one (ahad), all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Qur'an there are 99 Names of God (al-asma al-husna lit. meaning: "The best names") each of which evoke a distinct characteristic of God. All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine Arabic name. Among the 99 names of God, the most famous and most frequent of these names are "the Most Gracious" (al-rahim) and "the Most Merciful" (al-rahman).
Creation and ordering of the universe is seen as an act of prime mercy for which all creatures sing his glories and bear witness to his unity and lordship. According to the Qur'an, "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things" (Qur'an 6:103).
God in Islam is not only majestic and sovereign, but also a personal god. According to the Qur'an, he is nearer to a person than that person's jugular vein. He responds to those in need or distress whenever they call him. Above all, he guides humanity to the right way, the "straight path".
Islam teaches that God is the same god worshipped by the members of other Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Judaism (29:46). This is not universally accepted by non-Muslims, as Islam denies the divinity of Jesus Christ as a son of God, Islam views that God does not have any offspring or descendants, he created all things including prophets such as Jesus Christ. Most Muslims today believe that the religion of Abraham (which now split into Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are of one source, which is The Almighty God.
Judaism, the oldest Abrahamic religion, is based on a strict monotheism, finding its origins in the sole veneration of the ancient predecessor to the Abrahamic God, Yahweh.[n 1] The idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical in Judaism - it is considered akin to polytheism. "[God], the Cause of all, is one. This does not mean one as in one of series, nor one like a species (which encompasses many individuals), nor one as in an object that is made up of many elements, nor as a single simple object that is infinitely divisible. Rather, God is a unity unlike any other possible unity". This is referred to in the Torah: "Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One".[Deut. 6:4]
God is conceived of as eternal, the creator of the universe, and the source of morality. God has the power to intervene in the world. The term God thus corresponds to an actual ontological reality, and is not merely a projection of the human psyche. Maimonides describes God in this fashion: "The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought into being all existence. All the beings of the heavens, the earth, and what is between them came into existence only from the truth of His being."
- Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
- Hatcher, William (1985). The Bahá'í Faith. San Francisco: Harper & Row. p. 74. ISBN 0-06-065441-4.
- Britannica (1992). "The Bahá'í Faith". In Daphne Daume; Louise Watson. Britannica Book of the Year. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. ISBN 0-85229-486-7.
- Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 111. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
- Hatcher, John S. (2005). Unveiling the Hurí of Love. Journal of Bahá'í Studies. 15. pp. 1–38.
- Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
- Hatcher, William (1985). The Bahá'í Faith. San Francisco: Harper & Row. pp. 123–126. ISBN 0-06-065441-4.
- Saiedi, Nader (2008). Gate of the Heart. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 163–180. ISBN 978-1-55458-035-4.
- The term with its distinctive Mormon usage first appeared in Lectures on Faith (published 1834), Lecture 5 ("We shall in this lecture speak of the Godhead; we mean the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."). The term "Godhead" also appears several times in Lecture 2 in its sense as used in the Authorized King James Version as meaning divinity.
- Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Quran
- John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22
- John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.88
- "Allah." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica
- Bentley, David (September 1999). The 99 Beautiful Names for God for All the People of the Book. William Carey Library. ISBN 0-87808-299-9.
- Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Allah
- Annemarie Schimmel,The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic, SUNY Press, p.206
- Britannica Encyclopedia, Islam, p. 3
- F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
- Maimonides, 13 principles of faith, Second Principle
- Mishneh Torah, book HaMadda', section Yesodei ha-Torah, chapter 1:1 (original Hebrew/English translation)
- While Yahweh is indeed the Abrahamic God, this specifically refers to the ancient ideas Yahweh once encompassed, such as living on mountains or controlling the weather. Thus, in this page's context, "Yahweh" is used to refer to the ancient idea of the Abrahamic God, and should not be referenced when describing His modern worship in today's Abrahamic religions.