Skip to main content

Allah or Abba

"Allah or Abba"

These are the two fundamental ways of looking at God. Regardless of religious faith or persuasion the answer to this question will shape your life.

Let me explain...

The term "Abba" was first coined by Jesus in the New Testament.  Prior to that, the term was never used by the Old Testament Jews.  What made this so revolutionary was the fact that it greatly humanized God.  God was no longer some distant, fearful figure.  This was scandalous to the Ancient world.  God was all of a sudden human.  He could bleed, he could suffer, he could cry, he could understand what it meant to be human.

The term "Allah" was popularized by the rise of Islam.  This term was the opposite of "Abba" in that it signified a total submission of one's freedom to Allah, who was God.  God viewed from this angle was authoritarian; there was no free will, there was only Allah's will, that was it.  In Christianity God was fully human, fully God. In Islam God was all powerful, worthy only of total submission.

However, this dichotomy isn't just relegated to the religious spheres.  These two opposing views can impact
how one lives their life in general.

Let's take for example parent/children relationships.

Most psychologists and philosophers agree that children form their views of God from their parents, specifically their fathers.  So if a child is brought up to view their father as Abba (Daddy) he will view the world radically different than a child who views their father as Allah. The child who is brought up to view God as Abba will not feel uncomfortable being open and seeking forgiveness. In turn this openness will lead to a greater tolerance of others who have also fallen short.  While a child who is brought up to view God as Allah will not approach their father as an equal, but rather as a master. One view glorifies mercy, while the other view glorifies submission. 

I was recently talking to friend who was telling a story about his authoritarian, imposing father. My friend was profoundly affected by his father's boundless need to control and intimidate his children. He said something impactful: He said, "Unfortunately my dad was too much Allah and not enough Abba.  As a result our adult relationship as father and son still suffers."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include: Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life, and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&#…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is famous scene in the bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He in fact encouraged this honesty and o…