Do "God" and "Spirit" equate?
I personally have trouble with “God” for oft-cited reasons. Most come from ingrained Biblical references to judgements, damnation, patriarchal superiority, cloud dwelling, gray beards and retribution.
To me, they make “God” hard to love. So I'm a "Spirit" person.
When I’ve talked with fellow Quakers about our varying terminology for something which is ultimately ineffable, I get assorted reactions. To be sure some welcome the discussion, but others signal discomfort with visual signals (a raised eye-brow, a hardening around the mouth, a blank stare). In effect, they are saying, “Don’t go there,” or “It’s irrelevant,” “Been there, done that” or “How much time do you have?”
One, long-time Friend abruptly dismissed the substituting of “Spirit” for “God.” “It isn’t the same thing,” she insisted. That comment has stayed with me and begs to be put to the test.
So here’s the test, or at least a test. I’ve taken several familiar references to “God” and substituted “Spirit” for them. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether “God” and the “Spirit” equate. Are we talking about the same thing? Can you read beyond the words to the meaning? Or do words fail us — literally?
“A mighty fortress is our God.”
A mighty fortress is our Spirit.
“God, the father.”
Spirit, the father.
“God — our rock and our salvation.”
Spirit — our rock and our salvation.
“Fear God and his Commandments.”
Fear the Spirit and its Commandments.
“The Kingdom of God is within you.”
The Kingdom of The Spirit is within you.
“With God, all things are possible.”
With the Spirit, all things are possible.
"In God we trust"
In the Spirit we trust.
“Our Father who art in heaven...”
Our Spirit which art in heaven...
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see the Spirit.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of the Spirit.
I’m tempted to launch into an analysis of what this little exercise reveals, but for now I’m more interested in where it takes you. For one thing, you might want to add your own quotations to the list of “God” references to see whether they meet the “spiritual” test.
Next, I’ll post some “Spirit” quotations and substitute “God” for “Spirit” to see where that takes us. (I have now posted it HERE)