Personal god

Personal god

The expression, Personal God, refers to the belief that God is - and can be related to as - a Person. The personhood of God is one of the characteristic features of monotheism. In the sacred scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, God is conceived and described as a person. In the Pentateuch, for example, God talks and instructs his prophets and is conceived as possessing volition, emotions (such as anger, grief and jealousy), intention, and other attributes characteristic of a human person. However, the conception of God as a person should not be equated with a simple anthropomorphism. Relating to God as a Father (as in Christianity) or a Friend (in Sufism) is only a way of approaching God and the intimacy possible with one's own maker.

Ancient polytheistic religions

The broadest definition of this term is a god who is a personal being, i.e. a being with a personality, including the capacity to reason and feel love, as in the cases of Zeus, Apollo and Athena and other deities common to European Pagan polytheism.


In monotheistic traditions of Hinduism, as for Vaishnavas personal God is not just as a local manifestation of the deity, but is of universal importance, as Lord Himself referred in Sanskrit as "svayam bhagavan", where the reality of God is always not in an idealisation, but the actual impact of God in the life of man.cite book |author=K. Klostermaier | other = Crotty, Robert B. |title=The Charles Strong Trust Lectures, 1972-1984 |publisher=Brill Academic Pub |location= |year=1997 |pages=206 |isbn=90-04-07863-0 |quote= For his worshippers he is not an avatara in the usual sense, but svayam bhagavan, the Lord himself.|doi= |accessdate= p.109]

Exclusive definition of god, as the personality both containing all, and at the same time being in the intimate relationship with his devotees, up to stage of personal involvement in the intimate care and dependence that can extend beyond the concept of denominational care to the realm of bhakti is found for example in monotheistic school of Bhagavata in India,cite book
author= Hastings, James Rodney
authorlink=James Hastings
others=John A Selbie
title=Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics
edition=Volume 4 of 24 ( Behistun (continued) to Bunyan.)
publisher=Kessinger Publishing, LLC
year=2nd edition 1925-1940, reprint 1955, 2003
quote= - Krishna considered to be the "founder of the monotheistic Bhagavata religion".
p.540] Placing it as the earliest example of personalism in relation to God in 4th century BC.


Christian theologian Alister McGrath writes that there are good reasons to suggest that a "personal god" is integral to the Christian outlook, but one has to understand that this is an analogy: "to say that God is like a person is to affirm the divine ability and willingness to relate to others. This does not imply that God is human, or located at a specific point in the universe." [Cite book |first=Alister |last=McGrath |authorlink=Alister McGrath |title=Christian Theology: An Introduction |pages=p. 205 |publisher=Blackwell Publishing |year=2006 |id=ISBN 1405153601]

In the case of the Christian belief in the Trinity, whether the Holy Spirit is an impersonal god--i.e. a "force...often likened to electricity" [] by some--or a personal one [] is the subject of a dispute; [] experts in pneumatology debate this matter. Jesus and Yahweh are the same personal god. [] Jesus is of the same 'ousia' or substance as Yahweh, manifested in three 'hypostasis' or persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These views are intended to challenge the concept of deity which is merely a guiding principle, a blind creative force or a philosophical ideal.

Nontrinitarian Christians dispute that Jesus is equal to Yahweh.

Past and present views

In medieval theology, God was frequently envisioned as behaving like a king, haughty and unconcerned with the fate of his vassals. Puritan theologians sometimes depicted God as a minister, openly disgusted with the sinfulness of his creations. By the twentieth century, however, most Liberal Christian denominations, shaped by Christian humanism, advocated belief in a personal god according to the second or third definition, depicting God as loving and caring.


A narrower interpretation of a personal god is a deity who takes a personal interest in the world in general and worshippers in particular. This view is intended to challenge a deistic outlook.

A still narrower definition would be a god whose personal interest in worshippers is so great that the deity communicates directly with them and actively intervenes in their lives through miracles.


The most restrictive interpretation of a personal god uses the term in a similar sense to that of "Personal Stereo": this is a deity that is solely concerned with its worshippers, having pity at best and animosity at worst towards non-believers. Jehovah, the jealous god of the Torah, was the personal god of the Jews. Most modern denominations believe that they have the clearest understanding of what God wants, but some modern literal religionists suggest that those who are not members of their church will experience damnation.

ee also

*Bhakti movement

Notes and references

External links


* [ The Holy Spirit - A Person or Power?]
* [ Who is the Holy Spirit?]

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