Saturday, 19 January 2013

The everlasting God

Instead of thinking in terms of theological trends we should think more in terms of God’s attributes.

The challenge we face with any kind of natural theology (or theology in which we find God in the natural world) is that there are inevitable limits. The idea of the natural carries the idea that potentially the world can exist happily without God. It is an attractive word since it contains a certain purity and innocence to it, yet whether or not it is used by Christians it does not necessarily have to include God. In fact, although we can rightly have a natural theology the idea of ‘nature’ is one of the most powerful referents to a world without him.

The charm and beauty of the term can belie an element that is easily distorted and bent into an idol. Note the second commandment. No idol is to be made out of anything in heaven above or the earth beneath. The law and the natural world are found together in the Bible in the one book of the law or way of life of God’s people. Psalm 19 is a beautiful reminder of their co-incidence, but we must be aware of how they can be separated also.

Faith in the God of natural theology, although greater in certain respects than a God of revelation and religion (Romans 1 v.20), will inevitably be confined to the natural circumstances of this world. This is a God that is known by all and universally present, but no tradition has been developed concerning his person. There is no consistent body of truth to acquire that revolves around his personal attributes. In the end natural theology will not only be left to fend for itself, it will become distorted in the most ugly and degraded way, if no access can be found to God’s miraculous intervening power (Romans 1 vs. 21-32). We urgently need to call on God (Romans 10 v.12).

We must know that God is not something in the world, something to be acquired in the sense of anything anybody may acquire. God is not something in nature, even in human nature. This makes God both common and cheap. Natural theology is inevitably limited to this- it makes our God common to all, when he is personal to Christians. We should not ‘acquire’ anything in the world through the sinful nature. It must be through the one who has died to the world, and whose acquisition of anything in the world is only temporary for the Kingdom of God. No ‘getting’ or acquisition of anything in the world, be that a career or wealth should be through the sinful nature. The permanence of status is given by God in Christ Jesus. It is not simply a function of nature.

Natural theology is positive as a bridging project working on commonalites between Christians and non-Christians. A natural theology refers to the substantial, rather than the personal revelation of God. However, no matter how great that natural and inherent ability or resource is, and it may be very great, it has no lasting power. It comes to an end, like all the things of this world. Worse still it becomes corrupted by the ugliness of sin.

But our God is everlasting. He never comes to an end. He is inexhaustible. There is forgiveness and grace with him. The things that he reveals to us shall be as gold that never perishes. It has to be God. All the things of this world will wear out, and the children of the world have become corrupted, but where my God is there is forgiveness, grace, renewal strength and resource.  Hallelujah! My wonderful everlasting God.

Matthew 6 vs. 19-21
Hebrews 1 vs.10-12
Deuteronomy 29 v.29
Isaiah 40 v.31

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