Tell me all your thoughts on God
Tell me, am I very far?
– Counting Blue Cars, Dishwalla
When talking about issues of religion, faith and questions of God, it is of utmost importance to consider our view of God. This seems patently obvious, but I doubt that most people, even Christians, really have a good, solid grasp of what they believe about God, or how they even arrive at their concepts of God. Many people have vague, mythological, and outright bizarre notions of who God is, that are not only inconsistent with the Bible, but may be inconsistent with their own beliefs. For example, it has been a focus (too much, in my opinion) of some counseling methods that our view of God is directly related to our relationship with our fathers. Then, many people are influenced by their theological upbringing, especially those raised Catholic or Fundamentalist/Holiness traditions.
For many people, there is a major confusion about God as they see a contradiction between the God of the Old Testament (the mean, vindictive, warrior God) and the New (the nice, loving, “meek & mild” God). Or, they see Jesus and the Father as “good God, bad God.” However, both the Old and New Testaments are clear that God does not change. Malachi 3:6 says, “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” James affirms “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” It’s odd to me that as the issue of God is so terribly important (to both believers and serious atheists), people don’t take the time to at least try to figure out who God really is. Of course, I suspect that many people actually like the confusion, as it allows them to believe whatever they want. “Virtual reality” is not something limited to computers – people have been creating their own virtual realities for thousands of years.
So, how are we to figure out who God is? And perhaps more importantly, can we figure out who God is?
I am currently reading Victor Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis, which, by the way, is really trying my patience; it is one of the most ridiculous books I’ve tried reading in some time. My point in mentioning this, however, is that as he begins he presents various philosophical arguments for the non-existence of God, that he seems to accept without question. Most of these arguments are good examples of “straw God” arguments – they present a God that no one claims to believe in, and disproves their existence. It’s all fairly foolish, and I’ll talk about them at some point. Of all of the arguments against the existence of God, I haven’t heard one which actually deals with the God of Christian Orthodoxy.
Now, there are differing viewpoints within Christian Orthodoxy about God, which is to be expected. My son, Isaiah, believes that this is one of the more convincing things about Christianity. If someone wanted to make up a religion, they’d make it a whole lot tighter than Christianity is (this, by the way, tends to explain fundamentalism). Like science, theology is a journey toward knowledge. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t things we can know, and proper methods to use.
Stay tuned for more…