Regular, Normal Christianity ~ God

I started this series of "Regular, Normal Christianity" articles by setting forth my intent, and disclaimers (that I am sharing my own understanding and not asserting that I am THE arbiter of what ought to be counted as authentic Christianity), in the initial and hub "Regular, Normal Christianity ~ The Premise And Definitions".


I then began our examination of contemporary American Christendom in light of historic and Biblical Christianity by presenting the first article, on the reliability of "The Bible". With this article we examine the concept of "God".


Please see the bottom of this page for a list and links to the previous and subsequent articles.

How Do We Go About Asking This First And Most Significant Question - What Is God?

Christians believe that if man is going to know anything about God, that knowledge must come from God, not from our own inner musings about what we imagine or surmise He must be like

Of course, the great foundational idea of any religious or spiritual consideration is, what is our perception and standing verdict regarding the essential idea of God . . . what or who is He, what is He like, what is our connection or relationship to Him, etc. And preliminary to our foundational idea of God is, on what do we base our resulting perception and standing verdict of God on, where do we go, what manner of information do we give our attention to? The authentic Christian answer to this preliminary question is why I started this series of articles with a consideration of "The Bible" rather than starting with, what might seem to many like the obvious starting point, the idea of God itself.


This matter of where we gather our ideas about God, I suppose, has always been a point of division among those attending to spiritual beliefs and supposition, but it certainly is a dramatic divide today in our contemporary American culture. There are those who vigorously insist, nearly violently demand, that eternal spiritual truth cannot be found in a book but can only be discovered as one looks inwardly to find the divine spark or force or self that is inside each of us . . . they promote a dreamy and agreeable notion that there is spiritual light in every religious tradition and that each much find his own path to God, by looking inside themselves. However, the flaw in their multi-path religion is that they are not agreeable at all, but rather exhibit a vehement disdain, for the path of finding God in the Bible - Jesus, their own version of Jesus, is ok, but the Bible, Paul, Christianity, etc, is the one path void of light and leading no one to spiritual truth.


This great divide of what we count as a valid source to provide trustworthy information is itself informative of our very initial steps toward what ideas of God we embrace. The Christian counts God to be a wholly different being than himself, so vastly different in, not merely degree, but in type, that we posses no capacity to find or discover Him . . . to the Christian, looking inside himself to learn about God and what He is like would be like a carrot looking inside itself to gain an understanding of humanity - no matter how deeply and earnestly that carrot would look it simply does not the capacity to comprehend what men are like. Christians believe that if man is going to know anything about God, that knowledge must come from God, not from our own inner musings about what we imagine or surmise He must be like . . . God must determine to reveal Himself to us or we are left with a multitude of empty man-concocted religions that divide and harm rather than unite and mature us.


I address the circumstance of this multi-path notion of religion in these articles designed to review contemporary American Christendom in light of historic, Biblical Christianity because I fear this, 'find God within you' and 'every religion has some light' prescription, has influenced contemporary American Christendom thinking more than might be readily observable. With that in mind, a couple of essential ideas about God that the Bible presents and that historic Christianity has understood the Bible to present that I find generally neglected by much of what is identified as 'Christianity' today include:


  • 1. God is a being, not a force, and is separate from all else.

God created the trees and rocks - He is not the trees and rocks, nor is He in the tress and rocks. When the Bible tells us of the birth of Jesus we gain this great insight; God begat Jesus - He made man. The original Greek informs us that 'begetting' is producing something from something else, so that what is produced (or begotten) is of the same essence as what produced it . . . so, while a grape begets wine, a man makes the bottle to put it in. God created, or made, all that exists, the world and men are not pieces of God or aspects of the divine, etc - they are things that God made, God alone is God and everything else that exists is not God (that is precisely why the atonement was needed, why not only men but even creation itself benefits from Jesus the mediator and His finished work - but we'll get to that in upcoming articles).


  • 2. Space and time were created by God.

When God determined to create man and a universe to put him in, He first had to create space to put the universe in and time for it to exist in. Before all else there was only God, He had to make space and time to put His creation into. This means, of course, that God is not at all bound by any laws or conditions of existing in space and time, because He exists in eternity, outside of space and time. If this seems a bit too conceptual or difficult to comprehend, of course it is - we exist in space and time and can't possibly grasp the reality of existing outside of space and time.

The idea that God is not bound by space but is everywhere at the same time is not beyond our ability to, sort of, imagine . . . we say God is here with us and over there we believers in China and down the road at that Bible study, etc, all at the same time. The idea that God is not bound by time is a bit more difficult for us to imagine. However, without trying to figure it out, leaving for a moment our need to accept only what we can explain, when we go to the Bible we find this idea again and again . . . "one day is as a thousand years to the Lord", "I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last", "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I chose you", etc.


Our difficulty, I think, is that while space is a material reality (we can see our hand in the space right in front of us, we can see the tree in the space over there in the yard, and we can imagine the reality of the store blocks away, etc) time is not so observable, it is itself more a concept than an actual thing. So, we can, sort of, grasp the idea of God being everywhere at the same time, but we can't even say 'everyWHEN' at the same time without saying "at the same time" which makes the phrase nonsensical - the truth though, however beyond our capacity to grasp or articulate, is undeniably presented in the Bible.


We will get to aspects of God's attributes and character (that He is omniscient and holy, etc) as we move on in these articles to look at man, sin, the atonement, etc, but for now; while much of contemporary American Christendom seems to view God as a 'co-pilot', a resource we can turn to if we need Him, a pal always ready to encourage and comfort us, etc - historic, Biblical Christianity presents God as the infinite, eternal divine Spirit who created all that is and did so according to His own plan and purpose, and so, our part is not to run to Him when we're troubled, but to submit fully to His care and seek to serve Him as He superintends His creation bringing about all things according to His own will.


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Preface. "Regular, Normal Christianity ~ The Premise And Definitions"


1. Regular, Normal Christianity ~ "The Bible"

2. Regular, Normal Christianity ~ "God"

3. Regular, Normal Christianity ~"Jesus of Nazareth"

4. Regular, Normal Christianity ~ "The Trinity"

5. Regular, Normal Christianity ~ "Man, Sin, And Spiritual Death"

6. Regular, Normal Christianity ~ "The Covenant, The Promise, The Covenants, And The Gospel"

7. Regular, Normal Christianity ~ "The Atonement - Law & Grace"


The Christian & Private Study - A 'How To' Guide


"Is Believing In God A Ridiculous Thing?"


"The Most Married Man In America"


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Next ~ we will continue, in an orderly manner, examining how Jesus of Nazareth is perceived, the concept of the Trinity, the atonement, the gospel message, the church, etc, etc . . . once we cover these essential Christian teachings from an orthodox historic and Biblical perspective, we will examine some of the specific ideas popular contemporary American Christendom advances.


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"Warm affections, without knowledge, can rise no higher than superstition; and that knowledge which does not influence the heart and affection, will only make a hypocrite"

~ John Newton

Please do visit my other hubs ~

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Comments 12 comments

lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I like how you place God separate from what is created and as creator of space-time. God is not made of any of these things. Very nice.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

lone77star,

I appreciate your favorable comments and hope you get a chance to look over the other "Regular, Normal Christianity" hubs in this series . . . any review that would help me make these articles more useful to folks I very much appreciate. Thanks.

MickeySr


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Ok, here is exactly where I have a problem:

"God is a being, not a force, and is separate from all else." and "Space and time were created by God."

When you say "God created the universe." it begs the question "Who/what created God?" and then "Who/what created that entity?"

Space and time only exist in the here and now. There was no beginning. This is a physics premise that answers the question of who or what "created" everything. There is no way to create something from nothing. It is simply impossible to create something from nothing.

Therefore religionists just say "God did it". "God created space and time." This is no kind of answer for me as I can only wonder, what did God create space and time out of???

The truth is that no human understands how God created himself out of nothing, then continued to create space and time out of nothing.

If you start with the premise that "God did it", you are starting from an assumption and must build all of your beliefs following on that flawed premise.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Austinstar ~ it seems to me when folks ask 'who created God' they are confusing two distinct realities and applying what are observable and reasonable ideas from the reality that they exist in to a reality that simply isn't like what they experience. Understand, when I use the term 'eternity' I'm using it to reference that spiritual reality outside of time and space - I'm not talking about time that just goes on and on, I'm talking about another realm altogether, apart from linear time.

To assert that time and space had no beginning seems no less 'begging the question' or a 'no kind of answer' answer to me than announcing 'God did it' . . .just because we attach a 'physics' label to the assertion doesn't make it any more reasonable. Both religion and physics have to answer that 'what was before' or 'how did it come to be' question - religion declares that God made everything and physics states that there is no beginning . . . but here's the framework we're observing and surmising from ~

We exist in the material, space & time reality, our information and understanding comes to us through observing what's before us - and everything before us that we can observe tells us that stuff has not always been here, that everything has a beginning and was made in some manner. We can propose a theory to explain how and why things are and call it physics, but all the physics we witness before us tells us that matter is not does not create itself out of nothing and it has a beginning and an end, it is not eternal.

We agree that "There is no way to create something from nothing" and that includes space, time, and the material reality we exist in - the universe did not create itself. However, these space, time, and material rules (or physics) wouldn't apply in a reality outside of space and time. If you say the universe didn't create itself and in fact had no beginning that contradicts the physics of the material world all around us - if you say God didn't create Himself and in fact had no beginning that only contradicts what we understand of how time and space works . . . but God is not in time and space, He is in eternity.

I honestly don't rest on God as an answer that is simply 'magic', I think there is evidence and a reasonable argument to support the idea that there is a spiritual reality, an eternity realm, outside of our own material experience - but if we come down to that starting point question of 'who created God' or 'how does the material universe exist", or 'what is the real beginning of everything that is', etc, the natural universe has no sound suggestion of how or why things came to be or always were - the idea of God, having no beginning because His realm or experience is outside of time and space, and creating everything out of nothing, is just far more reasonable and sound.

. . . it's kind of like a fish asking 'what happened to Fred?' and being told that beings outside of his watery environment put food on a hook and snatched him away responding 'that's a ludicrous impossibility - no creature could live outside of the water . . . Fred must have de-created himself' (even though there's no evidence within his watery world that such a thing could possibly happen).


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Well that is actually one of the best answers for the "God did it" premise I have ever heard. This tells me that you actually think about things and not just repeat what you have been told all your life. That's amazing.

However, "time" is a concept created by man to measure things. Time is not physical and never has been. Time is so arbitrary that we can set our clocks to any kind of measurement we want to and even remeasure time by creating "daylight savings time".

So saying that God is "outside of time and space" makes no sense. There is no "sphere" of a "universe" surrounding us. Space is also a concept. You physically cannot say that space has an end. If you do, you have to answer "what is on the other side".

Your answer is "God is on the other side". "God is outside of time and space". This is physically and [to me] conceptually impossible.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Austinstar, totally off to the side, for my own interest - do you count it "amazing" that I "actually think about things and not just repeat what you (I've) have been told all your (my) life" particularly because I'm a Christian, or just because generally so few people seem to?

As to our discussion; to say that how we view and measure time and space is conceptual I would agree - but whatever we call and however we measure time and space they are not mere concepts but are the reality we exist in. Just now I am where I am and I can look around and see the things that surround me (the monitor, keyboard, a cup of coffee, etc) and you are where you are . . . I am not the keyboard and I am not where you are, I am me and I am here where I am - that reality, whatever we chose to call it and however we understand and measure it, requires some recognition of, not a mere conceptual musing about, but a recognition of the authentic reality that is our circumstance. I factual am not the keyboard I'm using to type this response, I factual am not there with you right now - these factual realities can only be as they observably are because we exist in space (the keyboard exists in the space it exists in, you exist in the space you exist in, and I exist in the space I exists in).

The same is true of time; regardless of what we call it and how we measure it, the reality is that I am writing this sentence now . . . I'm not writing the one about space now, I'm writing this one now, and, this one is not even the one I said I was writing just a moment ago but is the one that this one is - all of this can only be because of time. In that sentence I said 'moment' and "ago" - again, however we understand and measure time, time itself is more than a mere concept in our heads, it is the reality we exist in . . . there actually are 'moments' and there actually is an 'ago', and one moment is not the same moment as the moment that preceded it or the some moment as the moment that will follow it, and 'ago' is exactly 'ago' because it's not now or about to be now.

Again, whatever we call them and however we measure them, that we can observe places and things evidences to us that space is no mere concept but is the reality we exist in, and, that we can observe that things transpire in a linear fashion, that now is only now and is not a few moments ago or a few centuries ago and is not a few moments from now or a few centuries from now evidences to us that s no mere concept but is the reality we exist in.

The question of how and why there is space and time and all that exists within them, or, how and why our universe and world and reality exist and came to exist finds no answer or even direction from within our universe or world or reality . . . everything we can observe tells us that material does not create itself and has not always existed - there is no viable explanation for how and why anything that exists exists, other than it was all created from outside itself.

The concept of God that the Bible presents is an eternal spirit being outside of time and space . . . this doesn't require any alteration from our observations of time and space; space remains endless because God is not at the 'end' of space or on a supposed other side of the 'end' of space, etc - He is in another reality altogether from space. And He's not at the beginning of time or even before time - He is in another reality altogether from time . . . there is no 'ago' or 'moment' for God. Just as we think of God as everywhere at the same time, He is likewise everyWHEN at the same time (so-to-speak).

I believe this because it is the only idea I've ever heard that makes real sense to me, because after making sense to me it is what I find set forth in a book that claims to be His own revelation of truth to us, and because having believed it and trusting in Him without reserve He has put His own Spirit within me to demonstrate the truth of it to me (as the Bible informs us He will). All the theories and surmising and notions that we (man) have come up with sound far more wildly far-fetched and silly to me than what the Bible presents as the truth.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

"do you count it "amazing" that I "actually think about things and not just repeat what you (I've) have been told all your (my) life" particularly because I'm a Christian, or just because generally so few people seem to?"

Yes, I do count it amazing because so few people seem to.

More to come...


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Truthfully, God itself is a concept. Since we don't understand where things "come from" we created something that sounded plausible - the notion of a God or Gods.

Most people believe that we "came from" something or that "something" created us. Apparently, we cannot just "appear" or "evolve". This doesn't explain where we "come from" to most people. You are doing a good job of explaining the God concept, but your God is "energy", something that exists now, has always existed and always will exist. Energy + Space + Time = God

Yes, all of these things are concepts and yet all are the physical matrix of our universe.

Giving the universal energy a name like "God" and giving it human traits is something I cannot wrap my brain around. I will say that universal energy exists, but it is not a "being" with human thoughts and feelings and judgmental abilities. It just is what it is.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Austinstar ~ I agree that, in the vacuum of discussion, God is a concept advanced to explain how things came to be . . . but, that God also explains why things came to be, and why they came to be just as they are, is no small consideration.

The two essential views on the circumstance of the God concept are that, either primitive man needed some explanation to relieve his fears and attach reason and purpose to the world around him (the sun, death, storms, etc) and so he surmised or concocted the notion of some manner of invisible super-person beyond the world he observes - or there actually is a God who is beyond our world and created all there is and He has revealed Himself in some manner to some at different times and in different ways. The fact that all men everywhere and at all times have always come-up with the same notion of an invisible super-person beyond the world he observes informs the two concepts.

To me, taking these two basic ideas as concepts, without introducing any observable evidence or more advanced reason, I personally come down on the side of an actual God revealing Himself. If man was attempting to explain his environment, every group in every age coming up with essentially the same idea (an invisible super-person beyond the world he observes) strikes me as remarkable - however, if there actually is a God who has revealed Himself at different times and in different ways to different men, then it seems reasonable to me that all men would have an essentially similar account of how and why things are as they are, but with various groups and ages interpreting and articulating and corrupting what was revealed into the great variety of different world religions.

When we then move to include observable evidence and more advanced reason the concept of God creating man, to me, leaps ahead and leaves the notion that man created God in the dust. First, if there is no God, if our existence is exclusively natural and not super-natural, then why is there any sense of a morality attached to the concept of God? Lions hunt and kill as an effective means to survive and thrive - they don't consider if it's 'fair' that they have fangs and claws while the gazelle does not . . . there is no sense of right and wrong in nature, it is all functionality and effectiveness. But every culture in every age has always had some rule of morality. The idea that as civilization developed it had to establish a morality to maintain itself only begs the question - where did we get any such notion of good and bad in the first place to then construct a workable ethic to practice? Lions are communal creatures, they have an order their community lives by, they have 'rules', so-to-speak, that ensure the maintenance of the community - but there's no manner of good and bad, right or wrong injected into their scheme.

The fact that we all have inside us and recognize the need for a public practice of the concept of good and bad, right and wrong evidences that there is in fact some external from ourselves and our own capacity to manufacture, a real good and bad, right and wrong - and that evidences not only a god, but the God of the Bible.

And when you get to more advanced reason, for me, the question of 'why' looms very large. I don't mean that I need to know 'why' and so I must have some idea to fill in the blank - I mean 'why' is a sound and scientific consideration to include in our reasoning. Why would nothing suddenly out of nowhere and nothing, pop something into existence? Not just how, but why would the very first particle, the first amino acid or hydrogen atom spontaneously pop into existing? What does the empty void of the nothingness that was before all existence gain, what interest does it have, what is the point, why would any material suddenly come to be? again, I don't mean 'why are we here' like I need to know, I need to have purpose, etc - I mean, seriously, why I am here . . . what scientific equation advances something out of nothing for no reason or purpose?

God, the God of Abraham, Jesus of Nazareth, doesn't merely tell us why we are here, what His purpose is in creation - God's point and purpose is the only thing that makes rational sense . . . and all the evidence we see in His creation and all the ideas He reveals to us in His word substantiate His assertion as to the 'why'. I was not raised with any sort of religious ideas whatsoever, and I was never down-and-out or miserably troubled, and no one was ever chasing after me with religious teaching, etc - I examined and considered any and everything a viable option for my attention, and historic Biblical Christianity (not the crap and nonsense many think of when they hear 'Christianity') struck me again and again and over and over as the most reasonable and coherent with the evidence idea around . . . and, as I said, once I agreed with the idea it advanced as the truth, I experienced the very same spiritual experience it asserted I would experience. and I remain more convinced than ever.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I have to say that you have not convinced me.

"If man was attempting to explain his environment, every group in every age coming up with essentially the same idea (an invisible super-person beyond the world he observes) strikes me as remarkable " This is not a true statement as there are many cultures that did not come up with a "biblical God" concept or even an invisible super-person.

And like the lions that do indeed have a "moral code" or set of "rules", they didn't attribute this to an invisible super person either.

Your reasoning is good and even a bit original, but you are still coming to the same old conclusion that God did it.

I think spiritual truth is a man-made invention of the concept of energy + space + time = the universe (god).


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Austinstar ~ I wouldn't say they I am trying to convince you . . . certainly I'm not trying to convince you to adopt my understanding as your own. I am only wanting to demonstrate that the view I hold is not one of default or the consequence of emotionally-based non-critical thinking - I understand other views than the one I count to be the truth and I don't hold what I believe to be the truth merely because it is the view I hold. I don't want to believe whatever it is I just happen to believe, I don't want to be persuaded by what others believe, and I don't want to believe whatever is most convenient to believe - I want to know what the real actual truth is and that is what I want to believe to be the truth. My interest here is simply to advance that historic biblical Christianity is not for the emotionally frail or intellectually hindered - it is a viable, reasonable thing to believe with sound evidence to support it.

I agree with that not every culture has come up with the concept of the Biblical God - only those who God historically revealed Himself to, the ancient Jews, ever owned a concept of the Biblical God . . . but that revelation was communicated, corrupted, adapted, etc, so that every culture has some concept of some manner of external invisible creator & sustainer of the world we live in. Not all concepts are personal, that (it seems to me) is not the telling point - the thing to consider is why would natural creatures explain their environment with any notion of some unseen power or entity external from what they see all around them? Why would any notion of God ever come to our mind . . . I don't imagine that lions, turkeys, or butterflies ever imagine that there might be something they can't see and have no evidence of behind everything before them.

I agree and asserted that lions have an established and practiced set of 'rules' - but you're not proposing that these 'rules' have any moral component to them, are you? The lion isn't thinking if it's right or wrong to chase down and eat a gazelle - to the lion the good and bad has only to do with success . . . if he gets the gazelle that's good and if the gazelle gets away that's bad. That's not morality - it's efficiency or functionality. Why do we, and how do we, come to insert any notion of right and wrong into our behavior if there is no actual, outside of ourselves, right and wrong - if there is only the material world, if all is just following a natural course, what does good and bad have to do with anything, where did we come up with such a concept as right and wrong? No other creatures define their community and conduct in with any such ideas.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I once had a dog who used to sit outside in the dark and stare at the sky. He also loved it when we put Christmas lights up. He would sit under the tree and stare at the lights. I got the feeling that he wondered about the lights and what they meant. I have no way to understand if this was true or not. But there is a possibility that other animals wonder about the universe too.

"Why would any notion of God ever come into our minds?" That's a very good question and I'm puzzled about it too. Perhaps it came just from looking up at the lights in the sky.

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