Halloween: Is It Just For One Day?

I won’t deny it. I thoroughly enjoy Halloween. I always did as a kid and my favorite outfit was to go out as a ninja. Then, I got the joy when I got older of seeing the kids and I think giving the kids who visited our house candy was more enjoyable than going out and getting it myself. (And now in my own place, my roommate and I have had no visitors and I happened to pick up these Reeses’s Cups and I love peanut butter so much coincidentally and well, now what are we going to do with all those Reeses’s Cups? Decisions, decisions….)

Today, I still dress up some. For me today, it involved wearing my Smallville T-Shirt and my Superman hat due to my love of Clark Kent in the series. Pretending is such a great joy at times and I think too many people kill their imagination when they get older and find it harder to enjoy wonder in the world. Yes. There is a great joy in pretending to be someone you are not.

Wait. Did I just describe what kids do one day a year or what Christians tend to do everyday and especially at church?

This is the kind of idea I wrote about once before from a Casting Crowns song about a Stained-Glass Masquerade. Somehow, we are mostly perfectionists in the church. We think that we have to be perfect and I think that in part comes from a pop Christian worldview. Everyone wants to be seen as holy and righteous and that involves always being in a certain attitude.

Christianity is not about having a certain attitude though. Christianity is about being in a right relationship to God through Jesus Christ and it doesn’t matter how you feel about it or not. Let me say this to people who may be doubting their salvation as an example. Whether or not you feel saved has zip to do with whether you are saved or not.

When was the last time you really heard someone talk about a sin they were struggling with at church? Probably the same as the last time I recall. How many of you all can immediately think though of a sin that you are struggling with? That’s what I thought. I find that so incredible about the internet. I’ll have people come to me who are struggling with problems for help, and I doubt they’ll tell anyone in their church about them. I’m of the same nature though. I’ll tell others problems that I would never dare tell the church and some of those include my internet family.

It seems we’re all watching ourselves and trying to make sure we don’t have a flaw. Why? None of us are perfect. We all know that. Somehow though, we want everyone else to know otherwise. Are we interested in truth then or are we simply interested in a perception whether it is true or not? I think that’s a question we all need to answer.

I’m also one that’s just as guilty. Why is that? I don’t know either. For me, I don’t naturally trust people and this situation makes it all the more difficult. What’s to be done? I’m not sure. We’re all going to need to reach out. Maybe if we showed our wounds a little bit more, we could get them healed and maybe it will start with those in leadership in the church being the first to reveal their weaknesses and struggles. I hoped to do this some with my post I wrote on Obama, socialism, and my story. It was a hard post, but I thought it would help and I hope it did.

Are we going to make this Halloween constant because we can all agree, it’s no treat and we’re certainly playing a trick.

To God Be The Glory

I wrote last night about having God be the end of what we do. As I thought about it after I wrote the blog, I realized that there was a lot left out that needed to be said. I desire to correct that tonight in considering a verse of Scripture I’ve found to be one that I need to take into mind. 1 Cor. 10:31 has been a favorite verse for awhile for me and oddly, one I don’t see Christians citing as one of their favorites. The text reads as follows:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This is interesting in that Paul is talking about righteousness in the face of the question of meat offered to idols. Notice what actions he’s not talking about though. He’s not talking about prayer. He’s not talking about Scripture study. He’s not talking about evangelism. He’s not talking about fasting.

He’s talking about the day to day activity of eating and drinking.

What he means then is what is said in the last part, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. The problem with us as Christians though is we tend to look at it as only referring to the “spiritual” activities. Have we not considered so much more is to the glory of God? You can surf the net to God’s glory. You can enjoy a movie or TV program or sporting event. You can hang out with friends. You can be dating. You can be making love to your spouse. All of these can be to the glory of God.

Let’s take the realm of science as an example. Louis Pasteur said “Science brings men nearer to God,” and “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the creator.” I’m not a scientist, but I can understand what he’s saying. When I see something about DNA or go look at a picture of Olympus Mons on Mars, I’m just moved. Something in me screams at the awesome grandeur of what I am seeing.

The old scientists saw their science as doing that. They believed that the universe was created by a rational creator and therefore, his creation would be rational. If they studied it, they could learn more about him, and that is what they desired to do. Of course, not all of them were like this, but a striking number in the past were. 

These men saw their exploring the natural world as giving glory to God and the more they found, the more they found him glorious. They wanted knowledge, true, but not just knowledge. They wanted that knowledge to be a light to guide them to truth. As a theologian, I can confess that the more wonder I find out about the concept of God, the more I am amazed. He’s so much greater than the concept I had when I was a young boy in Sunday School.

Consider the arts also. Many musicians wrote great pieces of music in praise to Jesus Christ. They wanted to make good music of course, but they wanted that music to be a testimony to the one that they loved. (Or rather, that they love.) When the applause came, the composers wanted it directed more to the grand composer of the symphony of life than to them.

In Religulous, Bill Maher asks a priest outside the Vatican what Christ would think of a huge building like that. Maher needs to realize this is the same one who described a majestic temple. There was a day and age when churches were designed to be places of holiness. You went in and were dwarfed immediately by what you saw and you had an idea of the holy then. The place was not big for the sake of being big. It was big because it was to show how big God is. It’s majesty and grandeur was to put the person who entered into the mindset of worship in realizing who he is and who the God he serves is. 

Other artwork has been done for the glory of God. How many paintings and statues have been done in order to bring praise to the creator? Indeed, Christ never did write music or books or poetry or paint or do sculptures, but he’s impacted the arts more than any other person in that now, so many works are done about him. I would even argue that many of our modern superheroes to an extent are made to reflect Christ and I argue that they truly are superheroes only when they reflect Christ.

There are countless fields I could go into, but I think you get the point. Chances are, you know your field a lot better than I do. Whatever it is, do it for the glory of God. Be the best at it that you can be for his glory. If you’re a lawyer, be the best one you can be. If you’re a builder, build to his glory. If you’re a doctor, model the great physician. If you’re a teacher, model the great teacher. If you’re a chef, cook as if you were serving that meal to Christ.

Whatsoever you do, do it to his glory. Pray I’ll do the same.

What Is The End?

Tonight, I’m in my philosophy class and we’re talking about Plotinus. Now in the midst of this, I have a few hundred ideas going on in my head and at any time, I can often think up a problem and say “That’s one I haven’t resolved yet” and think on it. I was thinking about one such as our professor talked about how Plotinus believed in a “One” that was unknowable through rationality ultimately and you really couldn’t say anything about it. (Which is something you can say about it. Those kinds of things are always difficult.)

How is the One known? It is known through mystical experience. Philosophy is seen as a way to get you closer to that experience. Plotinus did have this experience a few times in his life. It would not be wise of us to deny such. The question we could ask though is, “Can that experience tell us about reality external to it?” That’s not my topic tonight however.

Instead, my mind was ticking on to another thought. The church today is fascinated with experiences. It’s understandable. If someone talks about an angel visiting them everyone thinks “Wow. It’d be really cool if one visited me.” Of course, some people then will take any event and interpret it as an angelic encounter and then there’s another story going on. Now I believe in angels and I’m not saying they don’t visit us at all. I’m saying though we can breed experiences simply because we long to have these experiences that others are having.

I wonder then how many of us are making the experience the end goal. Experience should never be that though. Think about the other experiences you have. Why are some of you reading this blog? I hope it’s an experience on a quest for knowledge. You are reading this blog hopefully because you think I have some knowledge and you want to partake of that.

Let’s suppose you are having a meal as you read this blog. Why? You are doing that for the sake of nourishment. It seems that when you focus on eating though simply for pleasure, which isn’t the main end for which eating was established, then you get gluttony. This is an important point. There are accidental ends that go along with intended ends. The final cause of eating is to receive nourishment. That food often tastes good is not necessary to its nourishing you. It is what we call an “accident.”

One of the best examples of this though is in sex. (Some of you already knew I’d go there.) I’ve come to a conclusion in my thinking about the topic. (And dreaming and hoping and longing and, well, you get the picture.) It seems that when we say that we want sex, many of us I don’t think are saying we want simply an experience.

What is sexual intercourse after all? It is the joining of two bodies. Note that! You need another body. This is something that can’t be done alone. That body is the body of a person. It is part of who they are. I said earlier that if you used the food just for pleasure and made that the final end, it’d be gluttony. You do that with sex and it becomes lust.

Consider it this way. Are you using the experience of sex for the deeper knowledge of who the person is, or are you using sexual intercourse in order to come to a deeper appreciation of the other person? How you answer that question will be very revelatory about you. I’m not saying don’t enjoy the experience, but realize the purpose of the experience. Persons should not be used in that way.

What about the church? Are we really seeking knowledge of God or just an experience of him? Is God being used as a way to get to a divine experience? I’m not against having an experience if it happens like the beatific vision for instance. I’m simply wanting to make sure we have our priorities right. God won’t take anything seen as greater than him and that includes an experience.

I Think You’re Wrong

Yesterday, a news story broke about how some kids in Tennessee had had a plan to try to assassinate presidential hopeful Barack Obama. While I am a strong McCain supporter, I can say that thankfully, the plan did not succeed. I don’t want Obama in the White House at all, but this certainly is not the proper way to prevent that from happening. Murder is always an evil.

I’m also on the Facebook application. Several of you are probably on there as well. I’ve found many of my high school class who have, unfortunately, drunk the Obama Kool-Aid and one of them put up a link about the story. What was most amazing though was that in her comment on the story, she was blaming the religious right.

I read the story that she put up and it said nothing about religious beliefs. (Well, it did say they shot out the window of a church. Last I checked, religious people don’t normally do that.) What was said though was that we all know what happens when the religious right starts acting with literal interpretations of Scripture.

I’ll also point out that what I’m saying is paraphrase and there is no intention to misrepresent what was said. Unfortunately, it looks as if the comments that I made aren’t there any more. However, I was told in reply that we’re from different worldviews so there can’t be any discussion and that this poster has a real beef with the religious right.

My reply was simple. If you have a real beef with the religious right, that’s just fine. It doesn’t mean though that they’re to blame for every evil out there. However, if we also have different worldviews, the thing to do is to meet in the open marketplace of ideas and discuss them. We can find out which, if any, of our views are true. As much as we should be eager to share beliefs we think are true, we should always be open to the possibility that we’re wrong. I also stated that my Facebook IMs were open for such a discussion. The reply I got was simple:


Then, there was a change to this one saying they were being personally attacked in describing their activity. This really stunned me. Personally attacking? I was simply stating a divergent viewpoint. (If anything was an attack, it was insisting that the religious right were the ones behind an attempt by neo-nazis to assassinate Obama.)

It makes me think we’ve lost something in our world today. It’s getting to where you can’t tell anyone that they’re wrong about anything. This is something especially evident in political circles today. Thomas Sowell has written a great article telling how presidential candidates back in the 1800’s got called far worse things than anything McCain or Obama have been called.

Some people might find my stance on negative campaign ads odd. I’m all for them. If someone goes too far, the public will see it. However, I think it’s perfectly legitimate for any candidate to call his opponents view into question. Let me see his record. I want to see that. I don’t want to just hear the good things being promised today.

It’s what Sowell refers to as record vs. rhetoric. If someone has a problem with someone on an issue, it’s perfectly all right to say so. This is the way ideas get sharpened and improved. I have my own stances on theology. If I meet a Christian, I’m more than wiling to discuss our disagreements. (There is one exception. If that disagreement becomes a point of fellowship, I no longer want to discuss it. It seems that what divides us has then been put above what unites us, our faith in Christ.)

If we live in a society where we can’t even say someone is wrong without considering it an attack on the person, there’s a problem. I’m not saying I’m against cold hard truth at times either. If someone is honestly being an idiot, I have called them on it before. I don’t prefer to beat around the bush. There are several people though I don’t use the tactic on. The ones that get the toughest treatment are the ones I believe are not really seeking truth but simply to destroy the flock.

Either way, they do have a right to raise questions though and we should answer them. If we have reached a point in society though where we cannot call something into question though, then we definitely need to take a second look. Anyone of us could be wrong and we dare not try to play God and act as if we can’t.

What Is Hell?

If you’ve ever seen the list of church bulletin bloopers, you know about the one that says “Our pastor will be preaching tonight on ‘What is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice!”

Don’t you feel sorry for that church choir? (Then again, if it’s true, you might want to feel sorry for the listeners!)

Tonight though, I would like to address that. Some of you might be disappointed to hear that I don’t hold to a literal interpretation of Hell. If you think of Hell as a literal raging inferno where people will be continuously burned and eaten by worms, then I’m going to disappoint you. I think Billy Graham had a great insight on this though when he said “If Hell isn’t a raging inferno, it’s worse.”

I think if we have a fiery furnace view of Hell, we, in fact, miss the real pain of Hell. The real joy of Heaven is everlasting joy in the manifest presence of God. If that is the case though, then it would seem that the suffering of Hell would be the opposite. It would be having to receive the everlasting wrath in the presence of God.

Now my view on Hell is a bit unique and I get it from thinking a lot about Lewis’s idea in “The Great Divorce.” There have been theories on maybe Hell being an alternate dimension of reality of some sort. Now that could be the case. I’m one who is willing to change my view if I think the evidence is strong enough to change it. Perchance someone who is more skilled in the astronomical aspect could answer any questions I might have. 

My idea is that it could be that those in Hell are in the re-created cosmos as well, but it is not the reality that is different but their interpretation of it. They are surrounded by the manifest presence of God forever and while we experience that as the love of God, for the unbeliever, it is instead experience as the wrath of God.

The unbeliever is one who has lived their life avoiding God and not wanting to have anything to do with him. God though is love, goodness, beauty, truth, etc. The Psalmist said there was no way to escape from God and even if unbelievers are in another dimension or unaccessible area of the cosmos in some way, they would still have the presence of God around them.

The love of God to one who wanted nothing to do with it would be experienced as wrath. Now I do believe there are still degrees of suffering. One who hardened his heart more will be more hardened in the afterdeath. They will experience the love of God as more wrathful than one who did not harden themselves so much.

Also, as I believe God values the choices of people and does not snuff them out as that would be treating their good above his good, then he lets those people live. It does not mean he likes it, but he lets it happen and seeing as they still reflect his nature insofar as they have being, then there is still some good and God loves that good.

Again, if I am wrong on this, I am wrong. It’s something I’m willing to accept. I leave this view for your consideration.

Why Not Just Forgive?

The question we ended with last time was if a loving God could allow anyone to go to Hell. As believers, it must be said that our Scriptures do teach this. It’s a sad reality and one that we shouldn’t take any delight in whatsoever. I will also add that I think Ezekiel 18 is quite clear in that God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. 

Yet, it happens.

Couldn’t God just look the other way? It’s not that big a deal now is it? After all, if I wrong you, you might be willing in yourself to look the other way. If you can do that, then surely a God who is all love could do the same? If that’s the case, then it must be that God will not let anyone go to Hell for he is more loving than we are, but yet, they go.

And God is still more loving?


The analogy with human beings being able to forgive fails because our natures are different from God. To sin against us is to sin against a finite being. To sin against God is not only a sin against an infinite being, but it is a sin against love itself. This is why when we answer this question we must start from who God is. 

If Christianity is true, God is the greatest good and indeed, goodness itself.. Keep in mind that aspect “If Christianity is true.” The question of Hell is about an internal conflict within Christianity. It’s not saying Christianity isn’t true because there’s no evidence Jesus rose from the dead, something that would be based on an external criteria. It’s saying Christianity isn’t true because the system itself is incoherent. When arguing against a system like that, one accepts the premises of Christianity for the sake of argument and then examines those premises to see if the worldview is consistent.

If God is goodness itself, and he is also perfect in all he is, then he treats everything in reality as it is. He cannot treat a lesser good as a greater good, which in fact was the sin of Satan. If we have a sin against goodness itself, God must treat it the way it really is. He must treat it as a wicked and heinous act and he cannot deny his goodness.

What would be the goal of just forgiving someone? It would be exalting their good over his own good. God, again, cannot do this for he cannot treat the lesser as if it was the greater. God is the only being in the universe who can properly seek his own glory for he alone is glorious and awesome by nature. For us, it would be egotistical. For him, it’s simply affirming his own nature and being true.

If God treats it as if it doesn’t matter, then what he is saying is that he doesn’t matter. If he doesn’t matter, then can he really be called God? The only way to bypass this is by grace. That is what repentance does. It is affirming that God is God and we are not. The cross fits in here in that that is the means whereby sin is punished, for God must punish also if he is to treat himself as the greatest good. Any affront to his nature must be treated seriously.

It does not mean that God delights in it. I can’t say he does and this blogger certainly doesn’t either. It is a sad reality that people go through life and reject God. Of course, I have a different view of Hell than some people do. At this point, I am hoping that many of you are wondering what exactly I have in mind when I think of Hell.

I guess you’ll have to wait till the next blog won’t you?

Why People Go To Hell

Readers will hopefully recall that in a recent blog, I mentioned a co-worker who had asked me about Hell and how I insisted on starting at the beginning. The reply I got going into a doctrine of God as basic as can be done in a couple of minutes is “That still doesn’t answer my question.” Well, I didn’t get to answer him there, but I can say something here.

The first question that is to be asked though is simply “Why do people go there?” The answer many of you would probably give is that they do not accept Christ’s offer of forgiveness of their sins. That is an understandable answer, but as one who can tend to disagree with some points, I must say that I do disagree with this one.

Let us examine it more closely. Notice that they do not accept Christ’s forgiveness of their sins. What is that last part but forgiveness of sins? Suppose we had a sinless individual who lived who never wronged God once. (I know Christ did that, but for sake of argument, suppose there was another.) Would that person need forgiveness? No.

The sad truth is that we’ve all seemed to fail at that plan for salvation. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that God instituted what we would call a “Plan B.”

If they do not have Christ and Christ is what provides forgiveness of sins, then it follows that they do not have forgiveness. For those who are wondering about my earlier post on those who never heard, I would say God knows what such people would have done if they had had the knowledge of Christ. It can simply be said that in the end, the judge of all things will do right and in Christian thought, no one will be able to say “It wasn’t fair.”

Let us suppose then that we are at the judgment day and we see the books being opened and there is someone there who does not have Christ, which will sadly happen. What are they going to be judged on? It will not be because they did not accept Christ, although if they had the knowledge of the truth and denied it, I would say that certainly counts as sin. Instead, it will be the same way any good and fair judge would judge them.

God will judge them based on their works. You want to weigh your works out on the balance against your sins? Go ahead. Some of you might be concerned I’m getting into an Islamic ideal here. Note though what I said about the goodness of God. To go against all that in every sin is indeed a great evil. Can there be any good that can overcome denying goodness itself? I know not of one for even that good could be seen as wanting to replace God.

Thus, God judges someone based on their works and if they are found wanting, which they are, then they receive the just penalty for their works. It is not simply that they got the wrong answer on a theological exam. It is that they spent their lives living in rebellion against that which is good and this is the culmination of their lives. The same is true for believers. It is not that they just got the right answer on a theological exam. The demons could ace the theological exam better than we can. It is that they saw that and they lived accordingly.

Now some of you might still be wondering if this is fair really. Why can’t God just forgive everyone and let them all in? How is it that a loving God can allow anyone to go to Hell? For those people, I say at this point, stay tuned.

The Treason of Sin

We’ve been taking a look lately at the doctrine of God and when it comes to discussing what sin is, this makes it all the more clearer. Now I realize that not all have this concept of God, especially not those of the atheistic persuasion for even if they believe that this is the doctrine of God that is found in Christianity, they do not believe that doctrine is an actuality. Nevertheless, sin still exists for them for what sin is does not change regardless of the person though the consequences could be greater for one who has greater responsibility.

Our loss of the awe of who God is has led us to a loss of what sin really is. When God is seen as small, sin is like a mere trifle. It is this innocent little act that harms no one. We must realize the truth though that it does harm. Does it harm God? Not at all. We can’t hurt him nor can we do anything to improve him. It harms us though and quite often, those around us. In fact, I’d say it will always eventually harm those around us.

Let me explain that. Let us suppose that we have a young man who watches internet pornography. Unfortunately, many are caught in this cycle and the church needs to be open to helping such people as many want to quit and do not know how. The church needs to be there to hold up the great gift of sexuality and point out that the reason this is sinful is that it makes sexuality to be something less than it is. Sexuality that is less than holy simply becomes a cheap thrill instead of the exulting joy it was meant to be.

Now this young man may think he is only harming himself, though I would also think he is harming indirectly all those women he is looking at by treating them as mere objects for his pleasure and not as persons. However, is he harming others? I think he is eventually because each look gets into him a certain idea. Each time he cheapens his view of women and eventually, he will act accordingly to a woman if he does not stop. Let us not forget that he is cheapening his view of the good, the true, and the beautiful as well, which means he is also harming his view of God.

If the view of God given is accurate, though I will also say highly inadequate as all descriptions of him are, then what does that make sin? If you sin, you are denying all of them. Let us look and consider some examples.

You are denying omniscience for you are saying God does not know what he is talking about when he says “X is evil.”

You are denying omnipotence for you are implicitly saying that you will be able to get away with such an act.

You are denying God’s goodness for you are saying this act that contradicts his nature is better than he is. 

You are denying God’s truth for you are saying that that which is true is actually not true.

You are denying God’s sovereignty for instead of having him be the Lord of your life, you are saying you will be the Lord of your own life.

You are denying God’s love for you are saying that you believe that God is withholding some good for you and you must get that outside of the standard he has given.

In essence, you are making God less than he is and that will damage your view of him. Do a sin enough and it will become a habit and with that habit will come a lesser view of God. A God that is less is a God that will not make much difference in your life. Not only that, it will change you from being a person after God’s own heart to being more a person after your own desires.

Sin ultimately is divine treason. It is wanting to take God off the throne and be Lord of your own life. Now I grant God has given us tremendous freedom in our lives in that there’s not one career path or one person for you to marry, but we are supposed to do all that we do in a godly manner. Committing sin though is wanting to do away with all “restraints” and take control of all things in your life.

Keep in mind again my readers that I speak to myself as much as you and realize there are many things about me that need to be cleaned up also. This is also where the gospel comes in. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Even while we were wanting to knock him off the throne, he loved us and even when we want to keep knocking him off the throne, he still loves us. If he loved us, we ought to love one another and build one another up to godly living.

Are you living godly today? Are you helping your neighbor to?

Analogical Language and Approaching God

There are three types of language that we use when speaking about God. By language, I don’t mean English, Spanish, French, etc. I mean rather the way we use the words that we say no matter what language they’re in. All of these were discussed in the Medieval period by Dons Scotus and Thomas Aquinas.

The first is univocal. Let us take the word love as an example. If I were to be seeing my family again at Christmas and I see my Mom and say “I love you Mom” and were then to see my Dad and say “I love you Dad”, it is not likely anyone would think that I mean something different by the word love in each case. I love my Mom and my Dad the same way.

On the other hand, in English, we know love can take on a number of other meanings which is really a deficit in the English language. I cannot say I love my friends the same way that I love my parents. I definitely cannot say I love my friends or parents the way I’d love a significant other of the opposite sex. I finally cannot say I love any of these the way I am to love God. When the same word is used and the meaning is differnt, then we have what is called equivocal language.

There is a third type and that is analogical language. There is a similarity but a difference. Scotus and Aquinas went back and forth on this, though not literally as they didn’t live at the same time exactly, but their writings show a discussion over the ideas. Scotus was worried that if our words don’t mean the same thing when describing God, then all God-language is meaningless, but Aquinas knew that there had to be some difference between us and God.

The answer is that the concepts that we speak of are univocal, but the application of them is analogical. We can speak of the wisdom of God for instance. Wisdom is meant univocally. It’s not something completely different for God than it is for us. However, when it comes to application, it’s analogical. We are wise finitely and God is infinite wisdom.

What does this have to do with the approach to God?

My prayer time for me is the last thing before I turn out the lights at night. I am finding it a more and more exciting time. I find this quite odd and some of you I’m sure can relate. Why is it that I enjoy that time so much, but I find it hard to come and do that which I enjoy so much? One would think it second nature. One would also think it easy to fall back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night just by coming to that place of joy again. Both times there seems to be a disconnect and I’m skeptical to it being a disconnect of the same nature each time.

Yet as I pray, I find the words of my prayer being totally inadequate and realize that the God I am addressing is far greater than I thought. We must realize this with Scripture also. It speaks in this language as well that if we took it literally many times, we would be in trouble. It would leave us with some false notions of God. The metaphor is there though to paint a symbol for us of a far more beautiful picture.

Take the passage about boldly approaching the throne of grace. We are told to do that. Consider this though. Do you literally come to a throne? Is God literally sitting on a throne? Is there a place where you go and then you are with God and in another place, God is not there? While I believe God’s presence can be made manifest in a certain area, I also hold to the omnipresence of God and believe that he is in all places.

Instead, I try to realize now that I am not so much coming to him as I am realizing where I already am. Reality clicks in and I realize that God is present and he has always been present. If only I would see him present more often. It would make struggles I have with sin be far more easier and would increase my dedication through long work hours or other forms of suffering.

The throne is to remind me of who he is. He is the king of the universe. He is the originator of the cosmos. He is the creator and sustainer of all life. He is the sovereign master who oversees it all. He is omnipotent. He reigns. I am told to approach the throne, but may I never lose sight of what is meant by that throne.

It could be frankly that sometimes, we have a hard time believing in and trusting God because we haven’t taken a good idea of who he is. We’ve made God so small today that we don’t really consider how awesome it is that such a being exists and what an impact that makes. If God can be taken away from one’s life and there is little or no change ultimately in the worldview, one has to wonder how much impact God was making before. Nietzsche got this right. Take away God and there are consequences and he made sure we knew what those were. 

Now many of us might not be at that point, but are we much better? Do we have the knowledge of who God is as a vibrant reality in our lives that shapes all we do, or does God just occupy one small little portion of our worldview? If you’re wondering if this blogger thinks he’s there yet, rest assured, he’s not. I speak to myself as much as I speak to all of you.

As an intellectual, I also realize a great danger that I face. When doing theology, while I should be intellectual, it is very easy to come to God as if I am a great master of knowledge approaching a subject for study. It is just the reverse. I should come to God realizing that I am a subject and I am approaching the great master. Humility needs to be a huge part of the approach to God.

Consider another case. What if I say I am now approaching him? I am now for me, but God has always been there. My ideas of time and space bind me so much that I cannot help but see them as I approach God. I find it so difficult to fathom a God who lives in an eternal now and is doing all things that he is doing at one moment and holds all knowledge about me at this time, past, present, and future.

Have you stopped to think lately how awesome he is?

If our prayers are nonchalant, maybe it could be because we don’t realize who we’re praying to. If our Christian life is not one that we are growing in grace and truth, maybe we don’t realize who our teacher is. If our Bibles aren’t teaching us truths, maybe we don’t realize who it is that is really the mind behind them.

And yes, I speak to myself as much as you. I need to improve as well.

I don’t know when your time is for prayer, but I hope you have one. Next time you go, consider to whom you are going.

Who is God?

Once again, I remind my readers that this is something to get your feet wet on the topic. I am allowing you to sample the truths of the faith in the hopes that you will go buy a full-course meal. The last time, I talked about the What of God and tonight, I would like to focus on the Who in Christian thought since I believe only Christian theism can explain all the facets of our world.

A number of readers might know already where I’m going specifically who are astute in theology. For one, there is a characteristic of God in Christian thought that I left out of the list yesterday as it is the focus today. I’m hoping some of you caught that as it is one of my favorite doctrines to discuss. The other clue I left was in the doctrine of the love of God.

For those wondering, I am referring to the doctrine of the Trinity. I believe if we want to know who God is, the answer is “Trinity.” This is something unlike the other religions of the world. Let us be clear at this point. This is a deep doctrine and one very hard for us to fathom and if you tell me that you can comprehend it, then the obvious truth is that you don’t have a clue.

The doctrine is that there is one God who exists in three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son or Spirit. The Son is not the Father or Spirit. The Spirit is not the Father or Son. All three are distinct persons that eternally exist in a relationship outside of space and time. This explains the doctrine of love for God is love within himself in the relationship of the Trinity and humanity is created so they can be invited to join into that love.

In understanding the Father, we look to the Son. We are told that to see the Son is to see the Father. (John 14:9) This isn’t about modalism though. This is about showing Jesus as the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15.) If you want to know what the nature of deity is like, look at Jesus, and if you have an idea that contradicts Jesus, then it is wrong. What is so beautiful is that our idea of what humanity is meant to be is in Jesus also. Jesus gives us the best of both worlds.

John 1:18 tells us that the Son has revealed the Father. The word used is interesting. It’s the very word that we get the word exegesis from. Exegesis is the process of studying a text and showing the meaning that is in that text. Jesus is, in essence, the one who exegetes the Father. We know the Father as he has spoken through his Word in Christ. (John 1:1.)

All of this though refers to Jesus in his deity. In his humanity, it is known that he had limitations. Philippians 2 indicates he took on some kind of limitation. I am not espousing a kenotic theory of course. I would say it is most likely that Jesus forsook the divine prerogative use of his deity. In essence, he played the game from a weaker position. 

Christ is the king who bends down to lift us all up high. As Peter Kreeft has said, “He stoops to conquer.” He comes down to man so he can bring us all up to God. In his becoming fully human, he enables us to become fully human. In taking on our death, he enables us to take on life. In assuming our sin, he enables us to assume his righteousness.

The Holy Spirit is one that is often hard to understand for us. Many of us not of a charismatic bent in fact can get defensive when the Holy Spirit is named. It has been said one message Pentecostals have taught all other denominations well is “Don’t forget the Holy Spirit!” I am not a charismatic, but I do believe that the rest of us do need to work on a doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit does a lot more than giving gifts to us. He is the comforter, the one who comes alongside us, and the one who intercedes on our behalf in prayer. (Romans 8:26-27) Jesus said that he would have the Holy Spirit here for us in his physical absence from Earth, and in fact said it would be better. We should be delighting in this person of the Trinity and seeking to know all that we can about him. 

Yet for many of us, the view is hazy, and I will confess I am one such. We can picture Christ easily. Even with the Father, though we are not to image him, we seem to do so. We can picture someone as an Ancient of Days ruling the cosmos. When it comes to the Holy Spirit, we don’t usally know where to begin. It is often a cloud or a vapor of some sort.

One image I do think of is the Shekinah glory that filled the temple in 1 Kings. Of course, this does lead to the vapor or cloud image to an extent, but at least I can form some idea in my mind. The idea shows the great holiness of the Spirit as not even the priests could enter because of the sheer holiness. I also think this Shekinah was present in the person of Christ as he walked this Earth.

Do I have a full doctrine of the Holy Spirit yet? No. Sadly, I don’t think many of us Protestants do. Gordon Fee has written on the doctrine from a charismatic perspective in “God’s Enabling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul.” It is an excellent work, but I would also like to see the doctrine gather interest in non-Pentecostal circles. Surely those of us from other denominations have our own insights as well and we must thank the Pentecostals for waking us up to the fact that there is a Holy Spirit. 

The Trinity is the foundation for all we believe and to know who God is, you need to know Trinity. The more you dive into the Trinity, the deeper I believe you enter into the rich life of God and appreciate his truth now. At this time, I am working on a research paper on a philosophical defense of the Trinity and reading St. Augustine’s “The Trinity.” I am finding it quite fascinating on many points.

For others wanting to go further, I recommend books such as “The Forgotten Trinity” by James White, “Knowing the Name of God” by Roderick Leupp, and of course, Augustine and other church fathers.