Saturday, September 15, 2007

How do we know the Divine Will?

How do we know the divine will? Many times it has been invoked in order to justify war. The first crusaders, who attacked Jerusalem a thousand years ago, were promised salvation by Pope Urban II; the defending Muslims also strongly believed the Lord was with them. During the Gulf wars, both Presidents Bush and Saddam Hussein declared that God was with them. The Muslims who die in what they see as their jihad believe they will go to paradise and enjoy everlasting pleasures.

Quite a conundrum for God, it seems. How can he support everyone? So what is his definition of good and bad? It might be handy to know before we embark on any fierce campaigns.

A good place to start looking is scripture, though that, of course, is often the root of disagreement. Opposing parties usually have their different scriptures to quote in order to establish that followers of any other scripture are godless barbarians. My Muslim colleagues are tired of being told how wrong they are in contemporary Britain and demonized. So, whose book is right? Who is actually on God's side, doing his will? Perhaps Christ's instruction to judge a tree by its fruits is helpful.

If I am actually trying to please a person I love, then how can I hate others trying to please the same person, even if they are doing it in a different way? Hating others in the name of God because they are different - Muslim, gay or whatever - defeats the purpose of pleasing God. Rather than pleasure, it would be more likely to give the Lord pain, just as a father is pained when he sees his sons fight. And if I hold such hatred, I myself am not actually coming close to God.