how God describes himself

There is a cavernous disconnect between how Christians describe God and how God describes himself. Here is one example of a typical Christian answer:

God is a Spirit and is the Creator of all things. He alone is eternal (has always existed) and is the self–existing one (He is completely self–sufficient and independent of anything else for His existence). He is loving, all–knowing, all–powerful, omnipresent (present everywhere at all times), unchanging, holy (without sin), just, long–suffering, gracious, righteous, and merciful. He is the One True God (all other so–called gods are nothing but man–made idols) who reveals Himself in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Churches will talk about “who God is” and then they will list “attributes”. This is very telling, because when God gets a chance to talk about himself, the dialogue is completely different. Instead of describing “attributes”, God defines himself by his actions (by extension: power) and his relationships:

Gen 15:7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”

Gen 26:24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”

Gen 28:13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.

Gen 46:3 So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.

Exo 3:6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

Exo 6:7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

What is different is that God defines himself relationally. When people describe who other people are, they usually do not describe attributes but relations. If someone asked me “who is Caleb?”, I would not respond with “He is a male child approximately age 5 with blonde hair and blue eyes”. I say “he is my son”. Christians treat God as an object, not a person.

The Bible overwhelmingly describes God as relational. The entire text echoes with his actions and relationships. No one pauses to describe God with vague Latin terms. There are, however, those who do stop to define God with these terms. In fact, they focus only exclusively on defining, summarizing, and debating nuances of these terms. Those people are not found in the Bible, but in the works of the neo-Platonists. Here is Plotinus:

Thus The One [god] is in truth beyond all statement: any affirmation is of a thing; but the all-transcending, resting above even the most august divine Mind, possesses alone of all true being, and is not a thing among things; we can give it no name because that would imply predication:

Compare to the Calvinists. From Norman Geisler’s Creating God in the Image of Man:

God is pure actuality with no potentiality in his being whatsoever. That is, God has no possibility of not existing. Whatever has potentiality (potency) needs to be actualized or affected by another. And because God is the ultimate Cause, there is nothing beyond him to actualize any potential he may have.

Where does the Bible talk like this? Where does the Bible define God like the intro quote? Christianity is showing clear signs of infection and the virus is Platonism.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Calvinism, God, Omnipresence, Open Theism, People, Plotinus, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to how God describes himself

  1. Gwendolyn X. Booker says:

    I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

  2. Pingback: when all does not mean all | reality is not optional

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