4 views on God: God as Source
July 2, 2007
I mentioned a debate about the authority of the Bible in modern ethical questions a while ago. One of the most interesting arguments in the debate was that of Prof Julian Muller, in which he tried to question the question. The topic of the debate tried to question the question behind the debate surrounding homosexuality, and therefore they took up the question of the authority of the Bible in modern ethical matters. He asked the question on our views of God, and with that questioned the question of why we ask the question of Biblical authority, how we ask it etc.
However, I struggled to follow Muller that day, although I really liked what he said, it was actually something interesting, and not simply the same old arguments which I’ve heard over and over again. But he was using an article by Delwin Brown, published in The Evolution of Rationality, so I decided to read it myself. I actually had the book with the article on my shelf, without knowing it. So I’ll be spending some time with the article in the next few days, and give some of my own thoughts. But rather than asking the question of how our view of God will influence how we look at the Bible, I want to ask the question how our view of God influence how we see the will of God and what God does. Not neccesarily the quesion about what is the will of God for my life, rather the questions whether certain things that happen in our lives is the will of God, is God the one behind it? Why do God let these things happen? Or maybe rather, is it God that let these things happen? Ultimately: What is the relation between God and the bad things that happen in our lives?
I’ll probably say this a few more times later on, and probably in more detail, but the idea is not that we simply choose one view as the correct view, and kill all the other views. Maybe the question is more one we should ask ourselves: What is my view on God? And is this the only possibility? In the end I think all of us have something of all of these views in us, and definitely there’s not simply 4 views. The way Brown sees is, every view would have something of the others in it, so the question will be more like: What is my dominant view on God? How do I relate with other possible views?
God as Source
If this view is dominant, then we would see God as creator. But not simply as a clockmaker, who created creation, and then left. God is the basis of everything in every moment. God is always creator anew, the source of everything, of all. God is the underlying reality out of which this world lives. According to Brown this leads to an encompassing sense of wonder. We can never know in full, since we can never know God in full. Life remains a mystery. Brown touch upon the question of the will of God. In his words: ‘who can be dogmatic about the “will of God” if God is mystery’.
I think we see this in practise with views reminding us that we can never know the ways of God. Often reminding us that God is bigger that us, and that we can never understand what God is doing. Thus, we cannot blame God for the bad things happening, since we cannot understand. I struggle to destinguish between this view, and the next one: God as Agent, but more on that later. I think Steven Curtis Chapman put this view into words with his song God is God, so read it, and reflect on it. What do you make of this view of God? What do you think is the relation between God and the bad things happening if we choose this view as dominant?
And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don’t know
And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust
God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God
And the sky begins to thunder
And I’m filled with awe and wonder
‘Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I
Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass
Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through
Him and from Him are all things
So let us worship before the throne
Of the One who is worthy of worship alone