“And one of the most important things that we [members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] emphasize about God when we talk about God is the fact that God is a person like us; fingers, toes, eyes, nose. And that’s important, I think, with respect to doctrine. But when we try to talk about what it’s like to experience God – that’s not my experience of God. People may experience God that way, but I don’t have any experience in which I’ve been exposed to God as a person. What’s it like, then? What does it mean to talk about experiencing God if I’m not experiencing God as a person?”Adam Miller – Transformations of Faith, The Mystic and the Philosopher: Introduction / God
One of the thoughts that have rattled on and on in my head is, “Is there a God”? Then, due to the friends I have in my life, the question expands to, “Are there Gods/Goddesses?” Most Christians would take umbrage at the 2nd question. The first question surely is acceptable. The second? No, no, no. That is pagan heresy! There are probably even members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that would be offended by the second question, even though the theology of Deification is widely accepted.
Some have claimed to experience God through vision ( or dream), entheogens, mediation, near-death experiences, etc., and it seems to me that God (or the Gods) exists.
That makes me a theist, right?
I’m probably akin to an agnostic mystic or some other label that hasn’t arisen in consciousness yet. You see, I have experienced the Divine in my life. There are too many coincidences, too many miracles, too many “answered prayers” for me to claim “there is no God.” However, if you ask me, “Do you believe in God?” I am forced to reply, “What do you mean by God?”
I know. I know. How very Dr. Jordan B. Peterson of me. The thing is, it seems to me that nearly everyone has an individuated idea of who/what God is. How can I say that I believe in God when I don’t know what you mean by that word?
“Have you thought about what it means to be a god?” asked the man. He had a beard and a baseball cap. “It means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people’s minds, like the tune of a nursery rhyme. It means that everyone gets to re-create you in their own minds. You barely have your own identity any more. Instead, you’re a thousand aspects of what people need you to be. And everyone wants something different from you. Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable.” […] “It has a cost,” he said. “Like I said. You have to be all things to all people. Pretty soon, you’re spread so thin you’re hardly there at all. It’s not good.”Gaiman, Neil. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (p. 642). William Morrow. Kindle Edition.
As far as I can tell, God (Gods) are real. They are, at a minimum, real in the dramas they enter. The Bible is a drama, a story, and Jesus is the God and Savior of that story, at least in the New Testament. If you or I experience God, or what we attribute to God in our drama, which we call our life, then God is real. If He appears to you in a vision, trance, dream, whatever, then that is enough to call Him real. Does that mean He exists in Tim’s or Dorthy’s drama? Not necessarily. And, even if God exists in others’ drama, She may exist and manifest differently. The Gods exist as you exist: in the stories of your life and others.
So, while it may be important to the Latter-day Saint narrative, essential to the doctrine in that drama, whether or not God has a body matters little to those who experience God in the pause between each breath, in the laughter of a child, in the breathtaking sunset, in the warm embrace of a loved one. Or, in the silent serenity of experience and experiencer being one, God and man at-one.