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Philosophy 1000: Bridging Course

Pre-Finals Application Paper: Relationships with God


The philosophical question within the article, “Relationships with God” by

Michael D. Moga is, “What is the religious experience with God?” One can infer this
as the philosophical question because Moga shows in the article that the traditional way
of both the philosophers and theologians’ attempt in describing the said experience, God
as encounter with an object that is to be known is not permissible. He finds the method
which seeks the universal definition of the human experience with God a challenge for
beyond it exists a multiplicity of human-divine relationships. He believes that traditional
western philosophy only deals with the experience objectively like some basic facts and
ideas, whereas there is a real need to clarify the contextual relationship with God. He
stresses the models for human-divine relationship which pertains that our relationship
with other people defines our relationship with God.


Moga shows that man’s objective analysis of what is his or her religious
experience with God is when he or she views his or her religious experience as an
objective, manipulative, or functional relationship. He deduces that this relationship
begins when one stands a distance from God, developing certain concepts about him.
Through the objective relationship with God, one simply thinks of God as a perfect
creator, completely different compared from our own creaturely existence. Thus, there is
no religious faith in this relationship for God is viewed as an entity who determines our
The manipulative relationship with God, very much like the objective
relationship places God at a distance and labels him as a separate being from our very
own. Man, as Moga implies looks at God as an object to attain his or her goals and
desires. Due to our separateness from him we try to move God through sacrifices, rituals
and prayers to get what we need and desire. Moga establishes the thought that we forget
God when we are satisfied and seek him out when we need something.
The functional relationship with God has a notion of a basic togetherness due to
the roles that we play. According to Moga, we see God as who is close by, “with” us and
identifies with us as “we”. But, even with a certain sense of unity there is still this space
between God and man because we are isolated by the role we play. Our relationship with
God here is bonded by the idea of building and developing a religious community it does
not go beyond that, it fails to understand a person’s relationship with God in a full way as
Moga stated in the article. In totality, all of these relationships in some way or another
creates a distance between man and God, one’s experience of God now becomes a
separate subject.

Moga shows that man’s subjective analysis of what is his or her religious
experience with God is when he or she can live a personal relationship with God,
this achieved when one goes beyond dealing with God as an object which simply
serves our own self-interest. That is the point where one transcends from the
objective, manipulative, and functional relationship which in some way is ego-
centric. There is this notion of an expansive relationship with God, where we experience
a “with-ness”, where we share our life with God which is lived “in” him and that he is
“in” our lives as said by Moga. This living will grant us unity with God to the point the
you and him is considered as “we”. This relationship with God does not separate us from
him but rather we are known and valued in a true way where we move beyond our
limited self-awareness and accept our true-selfhood.
This religious experience with God does not stop from knowing but also takes a
form of guidance and invitation. He becomes absolute and unconditional which means
that he is not objectified or in anyway manipulated. According to Moga, this relationship
gives a sense of identity and challenges us to live to certain expectations. Then, there is
also this idea of “giveness” where prayer is not simply for petition but rather an
expression of our concrete relationship with God. Thus, this type of relationship states
that our religious experience of God is based on our personal initiative to seek a personal
relationship with God. As stated by Moga, this form does not objectify God or looks at
him as a distant concept but rather this relationship gives us a personal identity and thus
subjectively defines our religious experience with God.

Moga, Michael. 1989. “Relationships with God.” From Paths Toward Religious
Experience (Makati City, Phils.: St. Pauls Philippines., 2010), pp. 135-146