IMAGINARY: There is a "jolly old elf" about whom parents around the world enjoy telling their children during the Christmas season. He is invested with personality; a physical description, a wife, employees, tools of his trade and so on. As the children mature the parents have to carefully provide them a more sophisticated view of the concept of benevolence. Unfortunately, many people treat God in a similar manner. As children they are taught pretty stories of Jesus, surrounded by children and forest animals, but as adults they are assailed by a world bent upon discrediting God, claiming he is not real but is just an imaginary concept useful only to the weak and helpless. "Religion is the opiate of the masses" according to one Karl Marx.
Response: "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." (Psalm 14:1).
PANTHEISM: Pantheism teaches that there is a single universal substance which is God. God is everything and everything is God. Therefore God is nature, a set of natural processes, unconscious and oblivious to the living beings dependent upon it. Nature deserves respect because it exists, but does not interfere with the affairs of men except by accident.
Response: The Bible teaches that God created nature, not that he is merely nature itself. (Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:26, John 1:3)
DEISM: Deism holds that there is an individual and independent entity which is God, but that God simply created the universe and is letting it run its course unattended. Much like a person winds up a child's toy and turns it loose to see what it will do.
Response: God is intimately concerned with his creation. "The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." (Psalm 145:15-16)
See also (Psalm 23:1-6, 2 Chron. 7:14, Isaiah 41:10)
POLYTHEISM: Many religions worship multiple "Gods". Some are various elements of nature which are deemed to have influence over the lives and welfare of mankind, such as the sun and moon. Others are families of superior beings modeled after human families and subject to exaggerated versions of human foibles and emotions. In each case, the entities are worshipped to molify them in the hope of deterring them from bringing catastrophy upon the worshipers.
Response: "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6).
See also Exodus 20:1-5, Exodus 34:13-14,
MONOTHEISM: There is but one God, ruling supreme over all.
Response: Correct, but unfortunately, misunderstood. God has progressively revealed himself, but two of the major religions of the world are locked into the time of the early Old Testament and see God only as he had been revealed up to that time; the creator, the lawgiver, the punisher of evil. To win God's approval required strict adherance to a set of laws which had been given by God and embroidered by well meaning men. Since it it not possible to live a perfect life in our own strength the end result of attempting to please God by our own behavior is frustration and bitterness.
We hold that the entire Bible, including the New Testament, is necessary to fully understand God. In the New Testament we see God as a single, yet triune person; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It does not bother me that understanding the trinity is beyond easy comprehension. God is God and there is much about God that exceeds the mental grasp of his creation. Perhaps one analogy which can aid understanding would be a small lake in a northern climate. The water in the lake is liquid, it may be covered by a layer of ice and, in the morning sun, a few wisps of steam may be observed. Three states of water; each has the same chemical formula but each has different properties and different applications. All three forms may exist at the same time. God is God, but the three persons described in the Bible are, from the viewpoint of humans, different manifestations. Each existing at the same time but having different tasks to accomplish. As we will see in later pages, God the Father is the stern personage, God the Son is the embodyment of love, and God the Holy Spirit is the attracting and empowering entity.
A Question to Ponder: How real is God to us? Our children and spouses and employers are very real. We interact with them every day and are quick to respond to their needs and requests. Do we feel close to God or is he some faraway personage which we acknowledge but rarely interact with? When we read an instruction in God's Word are we quick to comply or do we take it as something which we should do when we can find the time?
NEXT PAGE: What is God like? The attributes of God.
This page updated 11/17/2010Copyright (C) 2006,2010 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved