apologetics, theology

An Authoritative Call: Remembering that God is God

“Who is God?”

“What does God mean to us?”

These are questions that are central to existence. If God does indeed exist (argued elsewhere, see here) then they are of supreme importance. There are no questions that can be more important.

God, being sovereign, could make demands on humans. Why should God choose to interact with humans who are in a state of rebellion against him? This is not legalism, rather it is an assertion about God. God is sovereign and could have plans for all humans. It seems that the God of Classical Theism does indeed have such plans for all people (perhaps citing verses like Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”). But the God of Classical theism is inherently personal, and this is a point that is often missed.

A God who is personal is necessarily relational. Thus, when one is pondering questions of God’s existence or purpose, etc., a valid question to ask is “What is my relation with God?” Why should God choose to interact with those who are scornful, mocking, or blaspheming Him?

I think this is vitally important to the question that precedes the two I began this post with: “Does God exist?” Those who are asking this may do well to ponder what the implications of God’s existence would be while they are thinking about this question. If one is asking such a question, while knowingly being biased against a positive answer, acting against what one knows such a God may demand (i.e. some kind of obedience), or outright rebelling or blaspheming against God, it may indeed be the case that a God who is morally perfect and sovereign could freely choose to withhold evidence. And this withholding would not be in order to keep God’s existence from a person, but as a teaching exercise, a means with which to shape a person as they continue to wonder about God’s existence or purposes.

This, I propose that the questions “Who is God?” and “What does God mean to us [me]?” should actually precede, rather than follow, the question “Does God exist?” Walls against evidence can be built. People can freely choose to deny any evidence for the existence of God or put the question up to a test of validity that no arguments could meet. Such attitudes should–must–be avoided. I’m not trying to preach legalism here, nor am I arguing that it is our actions that can somehow get us right with God (rather, it is Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sin that grants us entry into the Kingdom of God), but I am arguing that those who do not believe in God and honestly wish to pursue the question should think about one’s own attitude and purpose in such an investigation. If one approaches with a Russell-like attitude of “I’ll just tell God when I die that the evidence wasn’t good enough”, one should not expect any amount of evidence to sway them, simply because of such an attitude.

Again, God is personal and therefore relational. If this is the case, why should not evidence for the existence of God manifest itself in such ways? Why shouldn’t it be purposively available or such that it makes demands upon individuals? Why should evidence for God’s existence be sterile, lacking any kind of emotional interaction with the being that is its referent? If God exists, then this is exactly the kind of evidence we should expect: relational, interaction-based, purposively available evidence.

Now I think that we can get this interaction-based evidence in places like the Bible. I believe that the Bible is the book whose author is always present, a quote I’ve heard somewhere and can’t seem to find who it is from. If one were to read the Bible with a mindset open to God’s interaction rather than trying to find contradictions, inconsistencies, “evils”, and the like, one might find more there than meets the eye.

Thus, I argue, the question “Does God exist?” should be viewed in light of who that God may be. If the God of Classical Theism exists, if the God of Christianity exists, then one may do well to remember that this God can issue an authoritative call–a call to repentance, a call from the Holy Spirit to a right relationship with God in Christ. This God can and does make demands. This God can and does offer salvation. This God is relational. Whenever exploring the questions about God, we do well to remember that God is God.

This post came from the fact that I’ve still been contemplating Paul K. Moser’s book, The Elusive God and the questions he raises throughout the book. I think that I will probably rewrite my review at some point, because the more I think about it, the more important I think his points are.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author.

About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “An Authoritative Call: Remembering that God is God

  1. You might be interested in this little aside from J.N.D. Kelly’s book “Early Christian Creeds.” It’s the chief work on the history and transmission of Christian Creeds and their individual articles.

    One shift that took place was in the first article on God the Father. Earliest manuscripts use the Greek word Pantokrator (all-ruling, some might say sovereign). Later manuscripts (still early enough to be in Greek) went with Pantodunamis (all-powerful, Latin- omnipotent). While we often discuss God’s omnipotence and it certainly has support in the Bible, the earliest Christians felt it most important to confess God’s place in His relational interaction with His creation. Pantodunamis/omnipotent, while true, is exclusively qualitative, whereas Pantokrator tells us where God stands, how He works, and most clearly where we humans stand.

    Posted by Open2Truth | March 13, 2010, 2:25 AM
  2. I loved that line: “The Bible is the book whose author is always present..” šŸ™‚ You’re right, so many people, when talking or thinking about God seem to think about what He is or does, as if He were a What instead of a Who. God is Father. God is the Bridegroom Who loves Israel. Some folks never seem to think of God as Lover. But He is the Divine Lover, the Beloved, the One Who made our hearts. For Himself.

    Talking about God, thinking about Him is good. Entering into relationship (communion) with Him is even better.

    Posted by Disciple | March 13, 2010, 7:40 PM
    • Exactly. That’s a point that I’ve found very important. It’s all well and good to think of God in abstract terms, a trap that I fall into often, being a philosopher [or at least a layman philosopher ;)]. But God will not be bound by such limits. His existence demands interaction. People who want to know about God should realize that God’s existence is not just a question of “what” but “who” and how we should interact with this “who”. Thanks for the comment, Disciple.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 14, 2010, 12:12 PM

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  1. Pingback: What kind of evidence? | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - July 21, 2014

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