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Where did ideas about God begin?
I suggest, contrary to most of what you hear and read, that ideas about God started with monotheism and have devolved, as opposed to evolving, into what we now find. In the beginning man had a relationship with the true God, but that relationship was soon broken and the knowledge of God was distorted and changed.
What evidence for this can you find in the Scriptures?
The story of the first man and woman as recorded in Genesis would seem to bear this out. Then we have statements such as the one found in the letter to the Romans. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Romans 1: 20-23
What is the nature of God?
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." We really dont know what "spirit" is, except that it is not physical. We read that a spirit does not have flesh and bone. We tend to think of spirit as being invisible or nebulous and that is partially confirmed from the Scriptures as they affirm that God is invisible but He is certainly not nebulous. On the contrary the things not seen are the eternal, the lasting.
What is the make-up of God?
At this point we enter into a brief discussion of one of the most controversial and inexplicable qualities of God. The Scriptures affirm that "God is one." Yet they also affirm that in some way this "one" is "three." This is commonly referred to as "the trinity." I try not to use the term, not because it is wrong but because it is a theological and not a Scriptural term. The Scriptures use the term "Godhead" three times. This means that there is one God, but three persons.
How can this be?
Hugh Ross PhD gives a most meaningful explanation. He states that we live in a four dimensional world (length, width, height and time) and that we are trying to understand a Being that is extra-dimensional (He created and exists in more than four dimensions) by the parameters of our experience. This is impossible. The best analogy we can understand and visualize is to reduce the number of dimensions to how a three dimensional object would appear to man if he were two dimensional, that is if his world were a flat plane (height and width, but no depth). In this two dimensional world, a three dimensional hand might appear as a point, a line, a circle or five circles, et. depending on the angle and depth of penetration. By the same token, if a multi-dimensional Being were to impose Himself on our four dimensional world our perception could take any number of forms.
What do the passages that refer to the Godhead tell us about God?
The three passages are Acts 17:29, Romans 1: 20 and Colossians 2:9. The first passage in Acts states that man is the offspring of God. As children are like their parents to some extent this means that we are like God in some way. Since God is not a physical being, we are not like him physically, but we alone were created in the image of God. Our personhood distinguishes us from all the lower animals; we have: a rational mind, self-awareness or consciousness, a moral capacity, the ability to choose, the freedom to love and an esthetic appreciation. All of these are but dim reflections of our God. The latter part of this verse tells us that God is not like the dumb idols fashioned by man out of physical materials. The second verse tells us that although we can not examine God directly, we can look at the things He has made, the universe and man. The universe although incredibly vast and incredibly old is nevertheless intelligible and the earth is covered with living things. This suggest that God must be incredibly powerful, wise, living and self-existent being. How great Thou art! The last first in Colossians tells us that all of the qualities and attributes of the Godhead dwell in Jesus Christ. He is perfect and complete revelation of God.
What is the "Oneness" concept?
This is the concept that God is one person or individual and that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are simply three manifestations of that One. I do not accept this concept as there are several times when all three persons of the Godhead are mentioned and they are interacting together. And of course, many times two persons of the Godhead are interacting. It is difficult for me to believe that the Oneness concept best explains these situations.
Is the concept of the Trinity or Godhead merely a New Testament phenomenon?
I am of the opinion that God has revealed Himself progressively in the creation of the universe and mankind but that the full and complete revelation is to be found in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless we do find indications of the Godhead in the Old Testament. For example God said let us make man in our image. The pronouns suggest a plurality. Then I read that certain words, like Elohim, which refer to God, are plural. I also read that there are several Hebrew words that are translated "one" and that the word in "God is one" refers to a plurality such as "one flock of birds" or "one cluster of grapes." Then there is the "angel of Jehovah" who is not your run-of-the-mill angel but in reality is deity. Finally there are several time in the Old Testament that mention "Jehovah" but in actuality are referring to Jesus.
God is "one." What does this mean?
I can only tell you from what I have heard and read. Lets begin with something a little more simple, something with which we can see and deal. When a man and a woman marry they become "one flesh." What does this mean? More, I think, than just sex. Well obviously the two are not fused together so that they are indistinguishable. They are two separate entities, but now they are "one." One what? Well one unit, a husband-wife unit. As one unit they dont relate to others individually, but they consider how relationships will affect the unit. They love and respect one another even while, in the Scriptural model anyway, the man is to be the head of the wife.
God is "one." What does that mean? Several things, and probably things we can not even imagine. But lets talk about those things we can imagine. The three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are each individually called God, but the three comprise "one" unit, this unit is called the "Godhead." This unit has existed from all eternity.
But isnt the Trinity simple polytheism?
No, the Scriptures are emphatic that God is one. There is none other. Polytheism is the human corruption of these divine truths. From the beginning to the end the Bible contains no acknowledgement of the realty of other gods.
What is pantheism?
Pantheism is the belief that God is everything. It is the prevalent philosophical error in speculation about God in every age, both east and west. Unlike polytheism its goal is to simplification, but its simplification reduces God to the whole of the world or the universe. Pantheism perverts the divine unity by making God the sum of all forces and personalities without attributing a distinct Personality to Him. Although God is Creator, He exists separate and apart from His creation. If the universe ceases to exist, He is, undiminished.
What is the concept of God of the Latter-Day Saints, the Mormons?
Mormonism teaches that each man and woman has the potential to attain the status of god or goddess through the instrumentality of Temple rites including celestial marriage. This goal has been the thrust of mystery religions of pagans from time immemorial, beginning with the deception of Eve by Satan. He assured her that eating of the fruit would not cause her to die, but her eyes would be opened to know good and evil and "you will be like God." The Mormon concept of God is totally different from the Christian concept. Obviously, although the Book of Mormon, speaks of one God, in practice their doctrine will produce many gods. Multiple gods are also confirmed in the Pearl of Great Price and in Doctrine and Covenants. But the Mormons also believe that God, through a series of progressions, is an exalted man. The Bible on the other hand tells us God is unchangeable.
What is the god of the New Age movement?
The answer is simple but reminiscent of the ancient religions, I am god-You are god. The purpose of the New Age movement is to introduce you to your Higher Self. Your Higher Self is the one to whom you have been praying. Your Higher Self is god. This is the Great Lie first told in the garden. It worked then and is continuing to work among millions of people. "Be still and know that you are God." According to New Age concepts the god-force exploded into billions of points of consciousness, each of which was a soul. These souls- all of which were gods- found their way to the three dimensional earth-plane and began to act as if they were three dimensional also. In so doing they forgot they were gods. If the consciousness is raised and the illusion of earthly existence is acknowledged godhood can be regained and we can transcend time and space.
How does the concept of Creator define God?
When the immensity and the complexity of the universe, including time and space, is considered, God is clearly identified as an infinite, all-powerful, transcendent Being. We read that in the explosion of the Big Bang eleven dimensions can be mathematically demonstrated and yet the mystery at the beginning of the process is forever hidden from us. What a God! Yet when the manishness of created man is considered we are led to believe that this Being is personal rather than impersonal. Indeed, what a God!
How is the exact nature of this Being revealed to us?
Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?"
"For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form"
Clearly the Scriptures say that the fullness of Deity dwells in Jesus. If we would like to know the nature of God, we have to only look at Jesus. And Jesus is the one who loved enough to die for us while we were yet sinners.
What are the moral attributes of God?
The power and glory and majesty of the Lord God are so overwhelming so commanding that it is possible to loose sight of His other attributes, but they are awesome to point of being unimaginable. As the hymn says, "How Great Thou Art."
"Holy" conveys the idea of separateness, wisdom and goodness. When these ideas are combined we conclude that God is separate or distinguished from all others by His wisdom and perception of the true nature of reality and by His goodness and dependability.
God is light. "And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." God is completely righteous, there is no taint of evil at all.
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