doctrine for the rest of us: introducing God
3/12/2006 01:54:00 AM
Who is God? According to the The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, God is:
  1. A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.
  2. The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being.
  3. A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.
  4. An image of a supernatural being; an idol.
  5. One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god.
  6. A very handsome man.A powerful ruler or despot
This is a complicated question. I don't think that anyone can really define God based on our limited knowledge about him. Rather than trying to define God, I think it best that we describe him. There are basically two ways to describe God. The first is describing him based on his attributes. I describe people I know their attributes: the color hair, their age, their name, the kind of job they have, what kind of clothes they wear, what they read. These attributes are exclusive to that person. The same applies to God. I can describe God based on who he is apart from anyone or anything else. Likewise, I can describe God based on how he relates to me. I do the same for people I know. If a guy was born from the same mother I was born from, he describes him as my brother. That is an exclusive relationship that I have to him that nobody else can have. People can say that he is my brother, but that would fall into the first category I described as being an exclusive attribute to that person. Based on this paradigm, I will try to describe God.

One thing that we have to accept is that we can't fully understand God. He is infinite-not something you can place in a box, measure, or quantify. He can't be contained by anything, and this includes our minds. A finite being cannot understand an infinite one. Think of it like pitcher of water. The pitcher of water cannot contain the ocean, but just a small, infinitesimal part of it. So most of our understanding runs into a brick wall at some point. This usually when an attribute of God has to be reconciled with his infinity. It is here where I stop trying to understand that particular attribute. Admittedly, this will creates some paradoxes and tensions, but in contrast to that, we can rest in God's infinity too, and know that he is in control of everything.

God revealed in the Bible is the creator of all things. This means he made all things: the universe and everything in it. This also means that he wasn't created-in fact he is the beginning and the end of all things. This means that he always was, and always will be. I won't even begin to try and wrap my mind around this. God is also actively involved in his creation. He steps into space and time and changes things as he sees fit. He didn't just set tings in motion to where they will eventually wind down to oblivion. The ultimate manifestation of God being involved in his creation is in Jesus. Jesus is God in the form of a man. (We will discuss Jesus in a later post)
There is only one God too. Other gods to exist, but these gods are not real gods, and they can be more than just something that is fictional. Anything that we turn into an idol can be a "god" to us. The one true God is zealous for people to worship him, so he does not share his godhood with anyone else. Although God is one, he has three distinct persons: This again is admittedly hard to explain, as we are finite beings and God is infinite. If you take Infinity and divide it by 3, you still have infinity (Infinity / 3 = Infinity). Additively speaking Infinity + Infinity + Infinity = Infinity. The idea is that we can't wrap our minds around this idea, but we can't ignore it either. The Bible reveals that God is 3 persons, yet one. Many analogies have been used to describe God such as an egg (shell, yolk, white part) or water (ice, gas, liquid), but the reality is that analogies break down at some point. It is impossible to reconcile the Trinity

Like people have hair color, skin color, and personality traits, God too has traits. God can do all things, except things that violate his character like doing wrong. God knows all things. God is always everywhere. God is unchanging. God is in control of all things although we may not agree with what he does at all time. God is free of anyone or anything. He acts on his own accord. God is set apart, because he can do no wrong. God is just because he knows all the facts and is unbiased. Because he is just, he has to punish wrong. God is all loving. He selflessly gave himself up for people so they could be in a relationship with him. While this list is by no means definitive, I think it touches on all the attributes of God.

Also like people, we can describe God based on his relationships. His is the king of our lives, so he calls the shots in our lives. He is our father, so he disciplines us and teaches us what is right and wrong. He is our friend, so we can cry to him, and he will listen, and he will help us out in times of trouble. He will also rejoice with us when we have joy in our lives. He is our brother. This means we can talk to him like we would a brother, and he treats us like family. He is our savior. He rescues us from the ultimate destruction we deserve. He is whom we worship, because he is God.

God wants to be intimately involved in the lives of those who are willing to trust him. Therefore, all that God is, knows, and does works out for the good of those who love him.
Later, we will discuss the particular person of God (Father, Jesus, and the Spirit).

Next post: What about the Bible?

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