Summary: Five key concepts Christians believe about God made understandable to seekers.
Back in the mid 1960s TIME magazine’s cover stated that God was dead. Yet God stubbornly refuses to show any signs of rigor mortis. Over 30 years after TIME magazine’s obituary of God, 95% of Americans said that they still believe in the existence of God.
But when it comes to defining exactly what kind of God it is that we’re talking about, things get much more complicated. Some people think of God as "the force" from Star Wars, with both a good side and a dark side. Others picture God as an enormous man in heaven, showing an uncanny resemblance to George Burns, or more recently perhaps Alanis Morresset from the movie "Dogma." Some see God as a celestial highway patrolman setting up speed traps to capture people. Still other people believe the universe is God, and still others believe themselves to be gods.
So although atheism has never really gained popular acceptance, the real confusing comes when we try to describe exactly what kind of God it is that we’re talking about.
This series is called WHAT DO CHRISTIANS THINK? It is designed to cover the basics beliefs of the Christian faith in a relevant way that people investigaging the Christian faith can understand. You see the Christian faith is a coherent belief system that seeks to make sense out of life, what we call a worldview. It’s fashionable today to pick and choose beliefs from various religions and philosophies. But this is a dangerous approach because every religious belief system presents a comprehensive and interrelated way of making sense of reality, and mixing and matching ideas from different sources results in a world view that lacks internal coherence. It would be like taking 10 puzzle pieces from ten different puzzles, and then trying to piece them all together. Even if used a knife to make the pieces fit, the picture wouldn’t make any kind of sense. In a similar way, mixing and matching conflicting beliefs from different religions and philosophies results in a nonsensical and incoherent view of life.
In this series I’ll be sharing eight basic areas of Christian belief that are essential to the Christian worldview. But before we start, I need to say that it would be a mistake to think that the Christian faith is merely about having the right beliefs. The heart of the Christian faith is not a set of ideas or a catalog of concepts but it’s a personal love relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. The ideas and concepts we’ll be talking about flow from this personal relationship with God, they’re not a substitute for it.
Now if you’re reading this and you’ve been a Christian for a while, you might be thinking that this series will be too basic for you. But before you tune me out, let me suggest that many Christians don’t really believe what they say they believe. You really see what a person believes by watching his or her lifestyle, because the way we actually live reveals what we actually believe about life. If I honestly believe that my wife is trying to poison me, that will effect the way I live. I’d probably suggest that we eat out a lot more often, I’d probably carefully watch her while she cooks my meals, and so forth. If I really believe something, I can’t help but live consistently with my belief system. Throughout this series I’ll be asking whether our lives reflect genuine belief in these fundamental basics of the Christian faith.
Today we’re going to look at what Christians believe about God. Now God is such a huge topic that I feel like I’m trying to fit an ocean into a thimble, because there’s so much that can be said about God. But today I’ll be limiting myself to five key concepts that are critical to the Christian concept of God.
1. GOD IS FOR REAL (Genesis 1:1)
We start with the very first phrase from the Bible: "In the beginning God..." (Gen 1:1). The Bible never attempts to prove God’s existence, but it merely assumes that God exists. This is because no one in the ancient world questioned the existence of God...the debate back then was over what God was like and how to relate to God.
Now in response to the rise of atheism in western culture, some Chistians have tried to prove the existence of God using various logical arguments. The medieval Roman Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinus articulated four arguments to prove that God exists. In more recent times C. S. Lewis engaged in the same sort of attempt in his writings. Some people have found arguments helpful to their spiritual journey into Christian faith, but their usefulness has been pretty limited. This is because the goal of the Christian faith has never been to persuade people to accept the concept or idea of God, but instead it’s been to introduce people to a love relationship with God. So philosophical arguments about God’s existence can end up being like a rather tedious game of chess. Now if you’re interested in these classical arguments, I’ve listed a few of them on your Growth Guide for you to think about during the week. But in the end both atheism and Christianity are ultimately matters of faith. Since the honest atheist doesn’t claim to have unlimited knowledge of the universe, he or she really can’t claim to know for sure that God doesn’t exist. All an honest atheist can do is say that he or she hasn’t yet found enough evidence to believe that God exists...which is really agnosticism not atheism.