God the Father
This section is often known as Theology Proper since "theology" is the study of God, and this is the section that matches that term most directly. We learn about God the Father, first person of the trinity, from His natural attributes as well as moral attributes displayed throughout His writings. We also learn about Him from His names, those that He Himself has used to describe Himself to us, and those that are use of Him by humankind as they annotate their discovery and experience in relationship with God the Father.
Humankind, as we will see later on when we study sin, has found it difficult to communicate with God. This comes from guilt, selfishness, and a desire for control caused by the sin nature, and also from a denial of accountability to a Being higher than ones self. God Himself has revealed to us that it is possible to know Him, and that revelation of Himself comes in specific ways that God Himself has defined. For us to express otherwise is an act of disobedience, a denial of justice and judgement, and an act of self-importance, all of which drive us farther from Him.
Several antitheistic paradigms are found throughout the world. Prominent among them are atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, and deism.
Scripture speaks of atheism in Psalm14:1:
"Fools say to themselves, 'There is no God.' They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right."
"The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks, 'God won't hold me accountable; he doesn't care.'"
"You were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world."
"Without God" in this verse is the translation of the Greek word atheos or "atheist."
Agnosticism is a transliteration of the Greek word agnostos which is "not knowledge" or "not knowable." They don't know if there is a God or don't think He is knowable.
Pantheism believes that everything is God and God is everything, and that there is no personal God. "Pan" is the Greek word for "all."
Deism comes from the Latin word for God. Deists do not deny the being of God or that He is personal, infinite and a Holy creator, but rather that He is distant, uninterested in creation, made it self-sustaining and abandoned it. They ignore Colossians 1:17 and Hebrews 1:3.
Another classification is theism. While these believe in the existence of a personal God who is the creator and preserver, they depend more on reason and nature and pay little attention to revelation and Jesus Christ. We have seen in previously cited Scriptures that it declares the importance of knowing God through the person of Jesus Christ.
God's own revelation declares how we are to come to Him and how we are to learn of Him. He has taken the initiative to inform us and we do well to follow His instruction rather than come up with our own believe system.
There is objective revelation. God is fully known through Jesus Christ. John 14:6: "the way" and "by me"; Christ also said He is "the door." 1 Timothy 2:5 (one mediator between God and humankind); John 1:1-2, 14-18; Colossians 1:15-17; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-3.
There is subjective revelation. This is revelation by the Spirit that communicates with our spirit. John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-15.
There is our own experience. This will be difficult to use as "evidence" of God to others, except that many will be able to see God as our lives conform to the image of Christ. People who deny the significance of Christ as important to their theology are certainly quick to point out when we might not be very "Christ-like." If that is the standard, why don't they follow it themselves!?
Who is God?
The Westminster Assembly Catechism states that Man's concept of God is gained through his constitutional (thinking, reasoning, observing) powers supplemented by the revelation of God of Himself through nature and the Holy Scriptures.
The WAC also states that God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness justice, goodness and truth.
This can further be expanded. God is the Supreme and infinite personal being, triune in nature, who is the ground and end of all things, and one in whom finite beings may have perfect dependence, to whom they owe perfect submission, and with whom they may have perfect communion.
These summaries are all derived from specific revelation within the Scriptures. The Scriptures do not give us a formal definition of God, but only speaks directly of God in three words.
- God is Spirit: John 4:24
- God is Light: 1 John 1:5
- God is Love: 1 John 4:8
The Personality of God
God's personality consists of these combined attributes: thinking, feeling, willing, self-consciousness, self-determination.
God has told us that we are created in His likeness and in His image. These qualities are essential in humankind, so they must be present in God's personality.
Anthropomorphisms are characteristics of God stated in human terms.
Everything we know about the personality of God we learn from His revelation, which includes the fact that this personality is reflected in humankind as well as in Jesus Christ.
Proofs of the Existence of God
The Bible does not seek to prove God, but takes God's existence for granted. God is speaking revelation to us, so why should he try to "prove" Himself.
We believe in god on the basis of Scripture and our experience. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1.
Faith is a higher form of knowledge. It rests upon the testimony of our rational knowledge and the revealed knowledge of God. Hebrews 6:11: "Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
Rationalistic theistic arguments have their place. God has created humankind with the capability of choice. God always leaves the opportunity for choice open. Choice toward God always includes obedience and faith. And the verse above indicates that without faith it is impossible to please God. A person who insists on withholding faith will always miss coming to God. Therefore that person is forced into finding a naturalistic solution.
These are the major rationalistic arguments. Rationalistic arguments are not "proof" but they are reasonable and consistent with an understanding that God exists. They are confirmations that what He has revealed to us is true.
The Cosmological Argument. From the Greek word "kosmos" which means an orderly arrangement of creation. Behind an orderly arrangement there must be a creator that is a person with a causal purpose.
The Teleological Argument. From the Greek word "telos" or "end" which looks at the end purpose or design purpose in nature and creation. It shows an intelligence in the design and structure toward that end. This has become known as intelligent design.
The Anthropological Argument. From the Greek word "anthropos" which is humankind. This concerns the nature of humankind, the intelligence, sensibility and will, and that these qualities must have come from a creator possessing these qualities. Humans are moral beings and therefore reflect a creator that is a moral being. Conscience recognizes a moral law, a feeling of worth and protection, a feeling of justice and fairness.
The Religious Argument. Throughout the world humankind is found to to feel the necessity to worship some power outside of himself. Animals do not do this, only humankind. The moral character and power of these objects of worship were always defective. God has revealed that He is the ultimate in holiness, power, and character and rightly the object of true worship.
The Ontological Argument. This argument suggests that humankind have the idea of a perfect being, therefore there must be a perfect being. This is a very weak argument seeing that most people don't think of their "god" as a perfect being, but more as an imperfect being that perhaps is more approachable or contactable.
God Himself, in His revelation to us, has declared that He is knowable and He invites us to come to Him in worship and adoration and to bring our requests and petitions to Him. He has revealed to us the things that would be mysterious, and clarifies for us His desire to be in a relationship with us through love, mercy and forgiveness. It takes faith to act on this, but it is not a "leap into the unknown," it is a trust that what He has told us is true and that He will be faithful in keeping His promises toward us.