The Nature of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

 

 

God is infinite; without beginning or end and is the ultimate origin of all things. God is  ineffable, which means indescribable and unknowable. It is therefore important from the outset to recognise that all attempts to define God are but human metaphors. They should be seen as such and not be considered as absolute truths. 

 

 

 

The English Folk Church proclaims there to be one eternal God, who is unchanging and exists within and beyond our world. God is pure spirit; eternal essence and uncreated energies, a single entity without division. God’s eternal essence transcends the created cosmos and exists outside of time and space as we know it. But the uncreated energies are immanent in the created world, existing within and throughout all matter. In this, the EFC is Panentheistic.

 

 

 

 

 

We hold that God is the ‘Ultimate Reality’ and ‘Eternal Law’ that was known to our ancient North European ancestors and remains the ‘God’ to which they continued to worship even after they became Christian. We believe that this is the original Indo-European understanding of God, shared by the ancient Druids, Northern Godhi, Iranians and the Vedic religion of India. For instance, in the Hindu Vedic tradition, Brahman is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists, the highest Universal Principle and ‘Ultimate Reality’. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes.

 

 

 

The nature of God is love, order, creativity and justice. It is literally God’s Law, the natural law which governs the creation. Our ancestors called this, Wyrd or Orlog, which literally means the primal law. The way we interact with it affects the unfolding of creation, both positively and negatively. In this way, our past actions collectively and individually affect our present and future. It is our spiritual and moral duty to align ourselves with God’s nature to lead positive lives and to help the positive evolution of creation.

 

 

 

The EFC also sees God as Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer in a similar fashion to the Hindu ‘Trimurti’, the cosmic functions of creation, sustenance and destruction. Godas Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver (or Sustainer) and Shiva as the destroyer or transformer. The role of transformer is similar to the orthodox view of ‘Redeemer’, the role God plays in destroying evil and transforming all to Good.

 

 

 

 

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The uncreated energies of God are manifested through a process of unfolding and emanation, creating a multiplicity of spiritual energies or divine attributes known as Aeons. These are created in male-female pairs and embody different elements of the divine reality and being. This totality of divine powers is called the ‘pleroma’, a Greek word meaning fullness or totality.

 

 

 

These divine attributes are reflected imperfectly in our world of form, although the EFC does not hold our world to be evil or to have been created by an evil ‘demiurge’. It is essentially good, but imperfect and incomplete. Its perfection and completion will be achieved by becoming ever closer to the true reality that exists in the pleroma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first emanation is the Divine Mind, Logos, Thought or Reason, which Plotinus called Nous, a word we still use today meaning ‘common sense’. We associate this with the Christian Logos or second person of the Trinity, although as an emanation, we do not see the Logos as co-equal and co-eternal with the father. From Nous or the Logos, proceeds the World Soul, which we associate with the Holy Spirit. Plotinus subdivides into upper and lower, identifying the lower aspect of Soul with nature. From the World Soul proceeds individual human souls, and finally, matter, at the lowest level of being and thus the least perfected level of the cosmos.

 

 

 

Whilst physical matter, including our own bodies, is the least perfected level of the cosmos, it is not evil – just imperfect. Furthermore, our true human nature is spiritual rather than material. We have a soul or spirit, which contains a spark of the divine, and which seeks to be reunited with the father and our ancestors in the heavenly realm. It is through the World Soul, or Holy Spirit, that we see all of creation as being in some way alive and connected to the Creator and all other parts of creation, including ourselves. The Spirit is the divine spark that lights our souls, it gives comfort and wisdom and may also manifest as nature spirits or wights. These beliefs are sometimes referred to as ‘Christian Animism’.

 

 

 

Furthermore, the Old Testament refers to a Divine Council ruled over by God and to which the lesser gods are appointed as Guardians over the different peoples of the world, Yahweh being appointed to Israel. Whilst we do not equate Yahweh with the supreme Creator, we do recognise that all tribal Guardians are hypostases of the Creator and to some degree at least are windows to the Creator and can be seen by their Wards as the supreme creator itself. The EFC believes that the Guardians appointed to the English and other Germanic peoples are the old pantheon of pre-Christian gods and goddesses.

 

 

 

The Logos, God’s inner voice of thought, reason and logic is the ‘light that shone in the darkness’, the inner voice that whispered to our ancestors, who sought to guide them through mythical tales before His incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth, and who continues to speak to us today. Jesus taught the word and natural law of God that had been handed down to the Israelites and which we believe were also understood by other peoples such as the Druids and Gothis of Europe, the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians and the Brahmins of India. He frequently sparred with the Pharisees, the precursors of modern day Rabbinical Judaism, who had corrupted the ancient Israelite law with their emphasis on literal interpretation and embellishment of meaning through the oral tradition which was to become the basis of the Talmud. Many Christian Churches have followed this approach with their emphasis on a literal interpretation of scripture rather than a contemplation of what Christ’s teachings really mean in the context of our modern world.

 

 

 

The Holy Spirit, referred to in the Nicene Creed as "the Lord, the Giver of Life”, is also known as the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth and the Paraclete or Comforter. The Spirit is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Holy Breath’ or Ruach and the Spirit of Wisdom. In traditional Christian imagery, the Spirit is depicted as either a dove of peace or as fire. The ancient Greeks called God’s word the Christos or ‘Spirit of Truth’, who spoke to the ancient seers and prophets. They also called the Spirit ‘Sophia’, meaning wisdom. Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophers also called the Spirit, the ‘World Soul’ or ‘Anima Mundi’, the intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet, being that inner light or divine spark within us. This is a similar to the Indian concept of Prana which is the life-force or cosmic energy that permeates everything. In the 19th Century, Baron Karl von Reichenbach equated this force or spiritual energy with Odin and referred to it as the ‘Odic Force’, representing both power and wisdom. This understanding of God’s Spirit permeating through all of creation leads us to a recognition that all of creation has a life force of some sort, a position that has come to be known as ‘Christian Animism’. This is a fundamental element of Folk Christianity as it is one of the main linkages between Christianity and our old folk beliefs.

 

 

 

The Spirit is the breath of God that blew across the wide, empty void of the Ginnungagap and which was breathed into us by Woden, Will and Weoh. It is through the Holy Spirit that the Volvas of old made their prophesies. And it is the Spirit that lies within each of us and leads us to seek a return to God.

 

 

 

 

The ancient religion of Israel, at least initially, saw the divine presence that resided in the Temple as feminine; Ashera, the female consort of the male God El. When Ashera worship was banned, her presence evolved and she came to be known as the ‘presence of God’, or Shekinah, which literally means ‘God who dwells within’. Hebrew tradition tells that when the Israelites went into their various exiles, the Shekinah went with them as a comforter. This has direct parallels with the Christian notion of the Spirit as Paraclete, or comforter. Shekinah is seen as divine wisdom and it is she who is called Sophia which simply means ‘wisdom’ in Greek. She is the embodiment of wisdom, love and healing – often depicted as a dove.

 

 

 

 

 

Another ancient Hebrew name for the Spirit of God is Ruach, or Ruwach, meaning wind, breath or inspiration. This word is also grammatically feminine. The Greeks translated the Hebrew word for spirit as ‘Pneuma’ which is grammatically neutral. The underlying meaning of the name Ruach (wind, breath or inspiration) reminds us of the Odic force, Odr (or Od), which derives from the proto Indo Germanic word Wat and is related to the Sanskrit word Vat, meaning ‘to blow’. The EFC believes that our understanding of the Odic force (see article on All-Father Odin in the mythology section) is simply our north west European take on an older Aryan belief that also influenced the ancient Israelite concept of Ruach. This Odic force is part of the divine energies of the One God. The Odic force is the underlying essence of Odin, associated with wind, breath, inspiration and wisdom.

 

 

 

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