The Mosaic of Christian Beliefs, Chapter 5: God: Great and Good
- “Our God is both glorious beyond our understanding (transcendent) and more perfectly good than any creaturely goodness.”
- Issues and Polarities of Christian Belief about Go
- Tend to emphasis either His greatness or His goodness, not both
- Should question, how is God both great and good?
- These are correlational
- The Christian Consensus about God
- The nature and attributes of God is largely debated
- God’s immanence- His “loving presence around all things drawing them to himself and luring them to his goals for them”
- “God is both transcendent in possessing a superior quality of being such that everything depends on God for its existence, and immanent in the sense of being graciously present in love with his creation.”
- Alternatives to Christian Consensus about God
- Deism- God is Creator of the cosmos, but uninvolved/uncaring
- Panentheism- emphasizes immanence; neglects self-sufficiency transcendence
- General, universal revelation holds more worth than special divine revelation
- The best revelation is interior and mystical
- Diversity within Christian Beliefs about God
- Each attribute of God must be interpreted
- A Unitive Proposal for Christian Belief about God’s Nature
- “In His greatness God is capable of self-limitation.”
- Universal revelation consists of “questions about existence and particular revelation as God’s special communication that answers those questions”
- “Avoid speculation about God’s inner-life apart from Creation.”
The Mosaic of Christian Beliefs, Chapter 7: Creation: Good and Fallen
- Issues and Polarities of Christian Belief about Creation
- Confused over goodness and fallenness
- “Christian belief about creation regards the universe as good but not God and good but fallen under a curse.”
- The Christian Consensus about Creation
- “God is source of all; creatures are dependent, real, and good; God creates freedom with purpose.”
- Also, “Creation is fallen under a curse and needs redemption.”
- Alternatives to the Christian Consensus about Creation
- Dualism- “belief in two eternally existing, opposed realities”
- Monism- came from one substance
- Naturalism- chance creation
- Diverse Christian Beliefs about Creation
- Young earth creationism- 4004 BC
- Theistic evolution- Darwin is true; Bible is metaphor
- Progressive creationism- the above are not true
- A Unitive Christian Vision of Creation
- Despite differing opinions about Creation, Christians, “contrast other worldviews”.
- Issues and Polarities of Christian Belief about Creation
When reading the question, “Can God create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?”, two contradicting thoughts pop into my head. The first thought is that of course He can, God has the ability to create whatever He desires. The second thought is that no He cannot; no rock could be big enough that God could not lift it. Like most theological and philosophical reasoning, determining a sound answer is not a quick or easy feat. When laid out succession though, the answer to this question becomes much clearer.
God created everything—outside of evil—that exists. This brings the presumption that God can create whatever He wants, as long as it is not bad. God would have the ability to create something physically bigger, or more dense than Himself. As this can seem like what is created is stronger than God, though, it can quickly lead to the assumption that God can create something more powerful than Him is. This belief is difficult to justify as God is often described as All-Powerful, meaning nothing can be more powerful than God’s current state.
Since God is All-Powerful, He is also All-Capable. He is capable to do whatever He wishes. If He wishes to create an extremely heavy rock, then He can. If He wishes to lift this extremely heavy rock, then He can. God’s power, strength, and ability are uncontainable. Whether or not God taps into these capabilities—and how He does it—is completely up to Him.
No matter how heavy a rock God created, He could lift it. Stating that God could not lift something is not actually a matter of physical strength, but of supernatural power. Considering God’s physical capabilities disregards the make-up of God. God is not even physical, He is a powerful spiritual being. God can do as He chooses for all ability, power, and authority is found in Him.
Scripture Response: Genesis 1; Jonah 3:10-4:11
A key feature of God’s character is His loving, gracious nature. Grace and mercy are at the heart of who God is. He understands people and their imperfections, even better than they understand it. In His majesty and power, God is still considerate in contrast to the mistakes of mankind. God loves His creation and is willing to continually extend His grace to them.
In this passage from Jonah, confusion overtakes Jonah as he considers the inadequacy of the Ninevites who were given God’s grace. “Just kill me now, Lord!”, Jonah declares when he realizes that God was going to forgive them, despite their countless errors. The thought circling through Jonah’s mind, I am guessing is along the lines of, “They are sinful; They don’t deserve it!”. Jonah knew God’s grace and love earlier, but at this moment, Jonah realized the overarching extent that God gives His grace and love to humans.
God saw the people of Nineveh differently. Instead of focusing on their negative past, he looked at their present state. All God saw was a people who were not in their sinful ways anymore; a people who were worshipping and living for Him. Did the Ninevites deserve it? Of course not, but that is the point of grace.
When looking at His creation, God viewed them as good and He committed to loving them, regardless of their commitment level. He chose to create them they way He did. He also chose to love them, the way they are. As humans it can be difficult to comprehend God’s grace toward humanity, but since we are not God, we can never fully understand it from His perspective. All we can do is approach it differently than Jonah, and chose to follow God’s example and love people, in spite of whatever their past looks like.