Thursday, November 30, 2006

But How Do We Know Who God Is?

Having argued that there is a God. Who is God? Which of all the god’s or God’s is the true God? Or can we conclude that all god’s are essentially the same? For us to know who God is requires some revelation of who God is. I believe that there are sound reasons to believe that there is a God and that this God has been revealed in Jesus Christ.

1. Knowledge of God from creation
While creation does not tell us who God is specifically, it points to certain characteristics.

i. The intelligence of God: We know from the order of existence that God is a brilliant thinker, artist, designer, scientist, engineer and builder.

ii. The daring of God: We know from the created order that God is daring, prepared to create a context in which he allows evil and volitionally free creatures to dwell.

iii. The vision of God: We know from our understanding of the size of the universe and the possibility of many universes and dimensions that God’s vision is utterly amazing and beyond anything we can imagine

iv. The power of God: We know from the size, variety and wonder of creation that God’s power is absolute.

2. Knowledge of God from revelation in history
All religions claim that at some point God has revealed himself dynamically and decisively in history. Hindus claim that there are many revelations of the gods. Buddhists claim that Buddha is the revelation of God. Jews, Muslims and Christians all claim a common revelation of God in the OT to Abraham, Moses and others. Jews await further revelation from their long-awaited Messiah. Muslims claim that revelation was experienced by Mohammed and that God is Allah. Christians claim that God revealed himself through his Messiah and Son Jesus. I suggest that the quality and veracity of each supposed revelation needs to be examined to assess which of these and other claimants points to the true God. For me there are sound reasons to argue that the revelation of Christ is most likely to point to the true God.

i. Fulfillment of prophecy: One of the most extraordinary reasons to know that Jesus is astonishing is the way in which his birth (Is 7:14; 9:6; 40:3; Mic 5:2; Hos 11:1), ministry (Is 35:5; 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 61:1-2), death and resurrection (Ps 22; Is 52:13-53:12) fulfilled the prophetic expectation of the Old Testament.

ii. Virgin birth: The possibility of Jesus conception without sexual intercourse is rejected by some as an impossibility and thus a myth. However, the biblical account does not have any doubt, Jesus was conceived miraculously. If so, then Jesus from the beginning, was something very special indeed (Mt 1:21 cf. Is 7:14).

iii. Flawless ethics: As with Jesus conception, some rule out the likelihood that Jesus lived a flawless life. However, again the bible record is unanimous that Jesus was a perfect man and without sin. If so, then he was utterly unique (Heb 4:15 cf. 1 Kgs 8:46; Rom 3:9-12, 23).

iv. Teaching: Believers and unbelievers alike agree that Jesus ethical teaching was brilliant and if adhered to would lead to a wonderful world. He advocated love of God and of fellow-humanity, non-violence, forgiveness, tolerance, goodness, marital fidelity, sexual purity and so on. These principles stand him apart (see especially Matt 5-7; Lk 6; Mk 12:29-31).

v. Miracle: There are many who claim to perform miracles. However none have multiply witnessed and recorded miracles to the extent of those attributed to Christ. These included power over sickness through healing (e.g. Mt 8-9), power over creation through controlling weather and walking on water (Lk 8:22-24; Mt 14:22-26), power over poverty (Lk 9:10-17), power over death seen in resurrection (Lk 7:11-15; 8:49-55; Jn 11; Matt 28) and power over evil seen in deliverance of demons (e.g. Lk 8:26-39).

vi. Resurrection: The resurrection of Jesus Christ stands him apart from all other supposed revelations. Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith etc are all deceased and there is no suggestion that these people rose from death. Jesus was seen on 10 occasions (Matt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 210-21; 1 Cor 15:6-11).

vii. Claims of Christ: In addition Jesus utilizing the terminology of his day, claimed to be Christ. This he did by claiming the ancient name Yahweh (‘I am’) in discussions with other Jews (Jn 8:58). That this was a claim of deity is confirmed in the Jewish desire to stone him in response.
viii. Claims of others: It is extraordinary that radically monotheistic Jews (who believe in one God) claimed that Jesus was God. Such a claim would potentially lead to their death for blasphemy. However, these Jews refused to budge in their conviction that Jesus was divine. These claims are found in the writings of John (Jn 1:1, 14, 18), Paul (Rom 9:6; Phil 2:9-11; Col 1:15-20), Matthew (Mt 1:23) and Hebrews (Heb 1:3-5, 8), on the lips of Thomas (Jn 20:24-31). While it is possible that the attribution of the names ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God’ to Jesus may be otherwise explained, the most likely reason these terms were attributed to Jesus was that he is the Lord of the OT come to earth, and that he is the divine Son of God the Father.

viii. The experience of millions: There is also the testimony given by millions of Christians from all ages who have met Jesus through personal revelation and believe unwaveringly on the basis of that experience that he is God the Son!

For me then Christianity has the best claim among religious perspectives to ultimately reveal God. Supremely God has been revealed in the person of Jesus who came as God the Son to save humanity. So the answer to who is God; he is the God of Jesus, Yahweh who has come in human form.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Is there a God?

I have called this blog "godztuff"? But is there actually a God who has stuff? Good question. This of course is one man's opinion for what it is worth. Then again, it is also the opinion of the vast majority of humans that there is some being out there who we call God.

For me there are some reasons to know there is a God.

In one sense we cannot prove that there is a God. That is, in the absence of incontrovertible evidence we cannot be absolutely certain that there is or isn’t a God. However there are a number of reasons to suggest that the best explanation for existence as we know it is some all powerful, all knowledgeable deity we term God.

1. Majority belief: if we look at the question democratically, then the majority of humanity living today and in known history have believed in the existence of a God or gods.

2. Explanation of existence: The fact that anything exists at all can lead either to the existence of an uncaused intelligent being or an infinite regression of causes. You see, we know from our experience that everything that exists has a cause. Hence when we trace back in time we come to either an initial uncaused cause or to an never ending regression of causes. While in one sense the answer to this either/or question precedes our experience so cannot be known, combined with other evidences listed here, the better explanation is that there was an initial uncaused cause i.e. God.

3. The order of the universe and our world: The wonderful order, beauty and interconnectedness of our world as we see it is a strong evidence of design and so an intelligent creator. Certainly there is disorder, death and chaos as well. Hence any explanation which includes a God or god’s must explain this disorder as well. The Christian explanation for this is the existence of evil centred on a personal force, Satan, whose desire is to destroy God’s world. Hence, God is not evil in any sense or the author of evil, but allows evil to exist. Similarly this makes less likely arguments that our existence is a result of chance (the only alternative to the God-theory).

4. Personal experience of the divine: There are millions of people from across all cultures and races who state that they have in some way encountered God or god’s. To argue that there is no God or god’s means these must all be explained away as misguided, deceit, hallucination or lunacy.

5. Common morality: While there are differences across cultures concerning details in regards to morality, there is undoubtedly a common agreement that human life, property and relationships are of value. The word that best sums this up is ‘love’ which holds across all cultures. This points to some form of common basis for this morality. We would argue that this is God.

6. Science: Some seek to drive a wedge between belief in God and science. However, I would argue the opposite is the case. Science points to an ordered world with definite scientific principles which explain this existence. Science and the scientific method then confirm the existence of order and point to a creator.

For me then, it is not only reasonable to believe that there is a God but that it is the best explanation for our existence. I agree that the existence of God is obvious on the basis of the wonders of creation that people who do not recognise his existence are without excuse (Rom 1:20 cf. Ps 14:1). That being the case, this does not answer the question of who or what God is. This requires further analysis.


In the beginning godztuff... I have decided to blog. Why? I don't know really except to say, "why not?" Pathetic! Ah well; why does anyone do anything creative? For me it is a chance to put some thoughts out there; maybe one or two of them are of use. I hope someone in the universe finds it of use and if not, the one who made the universe might get a kick out of it.

In a way it is rather arrogant to take the first four words of Genesis and appropriate them to begin this venture; what I am doing is hardly going to make the impact he made. But He is my inspiration and I am sure won't mind me borrowing the first few words of his message to this part of his universe. Anyway, I have begun and that is enuff at this stage.

So if you stumble over my thoughts and find them useful feel free to read them and interact. Shalom...