(Catholic Online) – There has been a lot of brouhaha surrounding the 2012 Democratic Party platform and the removal of any reference to God from it.  Following the politically-embarrassing revelation in the media, and the clear hay the Republicans were making from it, the Democrat leadership engaged in damage control.

The effort was, like most democratic things, a little messy.  After Ted Strickland (OH) moved to change the platform language, there came the embarrassing vote on the floor, and the forced and plainly heavy-handed tactics of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who was chairing the convention. The vote to change the platform was thrice put to a voice vote, and three times to any objective observer there was a more-or-less even call of "Ayes" and "Nos."   A two thirds majority of "Ayes" was required for the platform to be amended, and–when it was apparent that it was not forthcoming–Villaraigosa exclaimed that, in the "opinion of the chair," two thirds had voted "Aye," and the motion carried. 

Whether Villaraigosa’s defective hearing was the result of deafness or was result-driven, only he knows; but were I a betting man, I would say it was plainly the latter.  There were audible boos, cat-calls, and groans from the crowd.  Whether these were because of the amendment itself or the way the amendment was undemocratically foisted upon the Democratic convention, it is hard to tell.  Whether the complaints were more of Jerusalem being declared the capital of Israel or human potential being declared "God-given," it is hard also to tell.  Probably, what we witnessed was a combination of all these things. But as one might expect, the Republicans interpreted the booing as evidence of Democratic apostasy so they could capitalize on it.  If this be apostasy, I imagine they are thinking, make the most of it. 

For the Democrats, the whole display was sort of like wiping egg off your face by putting more egg on your face.

In any event, now we know–through the tendentious fiat of the chair Antonio Villaraigosa that there was a two-thirds majority among the Democratic delegates at the Time Warner Cable Arena who voted for it–that the Democrats believe that our "potential" is not our own, but "God-given."

The "God" of the Democrats had to be foisted upon them.

But all that glisters is not gold, wrote the bard.  Likewise, a document that says "God" does not necessarily mean the God. 

In a number of his writings before becoming pope, Pope Benedict XVI distinguished between three fundamental notions of God that are based upon three different approaches to theology: political, mystical, and natural.  Depending upon whether our approach to theology is political, mystical, or natural, we will find ourselves with three different understandings of God.

The first two approaches rely on the social structures of men, either political structures or cultural structures, to learn of God or to understand God.  The last seeks to discover God by understanding his nature, his essence. 

There is therefore the God of politics.  There is the God of "mysticism."  And there is the God of nature or the God of philosophy.

The "God" of politics is nothing less than the "God" that is derived from the cult of the State, the worship of power.  Some people, unfortunately a great many more than we would like to think, find "God" in power.  The great prophets of this "God" are Hobbes and Marx and Nietzsche and even the mild-mannered Rawls.  Some of the great worshipers of this "God" of politics include Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, but there are a great number of worshipers of this God that seem (and only seem) to be of liberal, gentle manner as Leo Strauss observed in his Natural Right and History

The "God" of mysticism is perhaps more innocuous and less bloody than the "God" of politics.  The "God" of mysticism identifies self with God.  It does not see God as a Person that stands, and always will stand, wholly "other" from us.  This view sees "God" not as Creator; rather, it tends to see creation and "God" as one.  The "stuff" wherein this "God" is found is in the ebb and flow of human experience, in myths we construct, even if it be the "myth" of pure reason.  Humans are the ones who seek and "find" this mystical "God" in the things of man.  This God is the invention of men.

This view of "God" comes to us in different forms–deism, pantheism, panentheism.  In Eastern forms–Hinduism, Buddhism, and the like–this view of "God" ultimately results either in us being this "God," or in becoming this "God," almost always through a sort of cycle of rebirths.  In Enlightenment forms, this "God" is viewed as being some sort of mpersonal force that is not particularly interested in man and the world; ultimately, this "God" of the philosophes, of secular liberalism, is irrelevant to anything in public life. 

The "God" of mysticism does not judge.  This notion of "God" is that "God" is passive.  It is a live and let live "God."  This "God" does not intervene uniquely in history and concern himself with men.  This "God" has few, if any absolute norms that we can know.  This "God" is infinitely tolerant because this "God" is all things and all things are this "God." 

This tolerance is confused with love, and is sometimes called love.  But tolerance is most definitely not equivalent to love, because love requires two, an "I" and a "Thou," both active partners. 

In contrast with tolerance, love–if it is really love–is jealous because it wants to protect the bond of love which it sees as good.  Is there really a love relationship between a husband and wife if the husband tolerates his wife’s constant infidelities?  Doesn’t a love relationship call for a mutual fidelity which necessarily takes us out of tolerance into intolerance?

The notion of "God" in both political and mystical forms is different from the God of nature.  The Greek philosophers sought to discover this God of nature, and identified him as Plato’s demiurge or Aristotle’s the First Cause. 

But the God of nature, the God of the philosophers, has been superseded by what Pope Benedict XVI calls the "monotheistic revolution."  It started with the "leap in being" as Eric Voegelin phrased it, of God erupting into human history by revealing himself to the tiny nation of Israel, and erupting into history in full and plenary glory when God Himself became incarnate in Jesus Christ. 

As Pascal famously put it, the God of the philosophers and scholars pales compared to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of monotheism.

Unlike the "God" of mysticism which humans seek and which does not seek humans, the God of monotheism seeks us, and has "found" us.  Because He has sought and "found" us, and only because He has sought and "found" us, we can now seek Him.

The God of the "monotheistic revolution" involves a God wholly different from the "God" of politics or the "God" of mysticism, or even the God of nature.  

The God of monotheism is a God that is wholly other, not identified with any human self.  The "stuff" wherein this God is found is in his revelation of Himself, a historical event where He interrupts and speaks to us or shows Himself to us. 

The God of monotheism is active.  He judges.  He has definitively intervened in history.  This God has communicated to us–in nature and by revelation–absolute moral norms that we can know and which He expects us to abide by.  This God is not infinitely tolerant–he is a "jealous God" and hates idolatry–because this "God" is infinitely separate from all things.  It is things that become idols.  He knows that he is the ultimate reality, and the things that are made are all realities contingent upon Him.  Indeed, this God has made known to us that things were created out of nothing by Him.  This God is intolerant because He loves, because He knows that loving things more than loving Him means that we exclude Him from our love and our love from Him, and love requires two, an "I" and a "Thou," both active partners.

Now, here’s the rub.  The monotheistic God has revealed to us in no uncertain terms that abortion is an "unspeakable crime," and that homosexual activity is a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.  This, of course, is in complete contradiction to two essential parts of the Democratic platform which are accorded much more room than this voted-in "God" who gives persons "potential."

Now it’s clear which God Cardinal Dolan was praying to when he directed his prayer to God in the closing benediction.

The God Whom Cardinal Dolan invoked was the God "of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son Jesus Christ."  This God has provided us with "inalienable rights," which includes "the gift of life," including "those waiting to be born."  This God wants these "waiting to be born" to be "welcomed and protected."  This God is the founder of marriage, that institution given by God "for the nurturing of life and community."  And this God expects us to respect "the laws of nature and of nature’s God."  It is this God’s will that we "resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making," which is to say He is a jealous God.  This is the "monotheistic God" for sure.

So back to the "God" of the Democratic platform: what "God" are we dealing with?  A political "God," a mystical "God," a natural "God," or a "monotheistic God," the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ?

I’m sure of which God it’s not..