Thursday, February 27, 2014

Does God Communicate With Man?

By Pastor Stephen Feinstein

Hello everyone. I do apologize in not writing last week, but I was swamped with many obligations. Well, I now I get to continue with an important subject. Last time I wrote about the existence of personality, and how the fact that we are persons truly creates a problem for all non-Christian worldviews. Well, Francis Schaeffer, in the The God Who is There, builds upon this by also arguing that Christianity provides a unifying theory of knowledge. Unbelievers cannot find the grand unifying theory since they have separated knowledge into two categories. If you have no idea of what I am talking about, just read a few of the previous posts and you will pick it up quickly. In this posting, the focus will be on God’s communication with mankind.

Because God is personal, and because He made us to be personal, then it stands to reason that God can communicate in a meaningful way to His creatures made in His image. The mysticism viewpoint (regardless of its variant) declares God to be unknowable, but this is because they believe God to be impersonal. But my last post showed how this is nonsense. Derivative persons (humans) are real, and thus an original person (God) must exist. And given that God and man are both personal, it stands to reason that God can communicate as one person to others.

Human beings have the unique gift of language, by which communication is possible. Communication can occur three ways: between God and man, between man and man, and between man and himself. Words have meaning, and therefore they can communicate real and true things that could be understood. If this were not the case, then all fields of knowledge are really nonsense and we should not trust that we know anything. Of course, hardly anyone will ever say this unless they are able to apply this rule only to theology. Besides the fact that such thinking is the fallacy of special pleading, common sense tells us that if God wanted to talk to us in words of human language, then we can understand those words. This is precisely what God has done through the Bible. And by communicating with humanity by this means, we do have a unification of knowledge.

It is impossible to separate knowledge into the two categories mentioned in previous posts. You cannot separate science and history from metaphysical truth. You cannot separate our senses from the fact that absolutes really do exist. God did not reveal His Word to us as fables or fortune cookie statements of wisdom. Instead, He revealed His word in history. The Bible contains books that record history. There are historical settings, circumstances, and people within these books, and God decided to reveal religious truth in this context. So if the Bible is what it claims to be (God’s Word) then what the Bible says about history must be true.

The same can be said about science. The Bible speaks of the creation of universe, and man was placed within that universe. Therefore, what the Bible says about the universe must be true and is relevant to science. Now of course, this does not mean that the Bible is a history or science book. It is not. It is God’s Word given to His people in the context of history and the universe. Therefore, the presuppositions that it grants to us do help us to rightly perform and interpret science and to write and interpret history. This truth refutes the New Theology, whether it be Neo-Orthodoxy or New Liberalism, because they argue that the Bible has historical and scientific errors. What sense would there be for an omnipotent God to reveal truth in the course of history, but to then make historical errors in doing so? What sense would there be for an omniscient God to reveal truth to man that He placed within the universe, but then to make errors about the nature of the universe? It would make no sense at all.

Thus, from the Christian perspective, the Scriptures provide the unity over all knowledge since God has spoken truth in linguistic propositional form concerning Himself, man, history, and the universe. There is unity in knowledge because God has spoken truth into all areas of knowledge. Some might falsely say that if God has spoken truth into the field of science, then why do science at all? It would be wasted energy. This simply is not true. Just because God communicates truly does not mean that God communicates exhaustively. In other words, what God has communicated is 100% true in what it says, but it is not 100% exhaustive. He tells us true things, but He does not tell us everything.

Finite beings could not meet the requirement of being able to learn exhaustively anyway. Think of it this way. No man on earth can have exhaustive knowledge of even a square inch of the earth. To have such knowledge would require that a man could possibly know every subatomic particle of that square inch not just now, but for the past, present, and future. He would have to know all of the weather conditions for all of history and the future and be able to show how this changed or altered the square inch. He would have to know every human foot that stepped over that inch along with every animal. I think you get the point. Exhaustive knowledge is impossible, but true knowledge is possible. God has revealed true knowledge to us, and He has given us the ability to discover countless amazing things about the universe that He created. These discoveries count as true knowledge. He has created a uniform universe with predictable laws of nature so that experiments have lasting meaning. He created humans with the capacity to use logic so that we can compare classes and categories to make correct deductions. These facts alone demonstrate that God wants finite man to learn of the truth He has built into the external world. Christians should be the most ambitious of scientists since every discovery shows one more truth about the world, and demonstrates in yet another way just how awesome God really is.

Theological liberals believe we have an inescapable tension with our beliefs about God communicating with man. If God is infinite, and man is finite, then how can God communicate truth about Himself in a meaningful way to finite creatures? After all, by nature we cannot understand infinite. Therefore, they would say that it is impossible for God to communicate to us in a meaningful way. So to them, the Bible cannot be what it says it is. Francis Schaeffer shuts this down rather easily. God does not relate to us through infinity, but through personality. In other words, God is totally unique in His attribute of infinite. We are no closer to God in this regard than a single rock in my backyard. We are not less finite than a fish, dog, tree, etc. There is an inseparable gap between infinite and finite. However, in terms of personality, we are far closer to God than anything else. Dogs, cats, fish, trees, etc., are not persons. They do not have the attribute of personality as we do.

Schaeffer illustrates this with two diagrams. The first diagram is titled “infinite” and is set up as follows: 1) God is listed at the top; 2) A line representing a chasm is placed beneath God; 3) Man, animals, plants, and machines are placed together below that line. Man, animals, plants, and machines are all equally distant from God in terms of infinite. As I said, we are no less finite than those other things listed. However, the second diagram is titled “personality” and is set up as follows: 1) God is listed at the top; 2) Man is listed right under Him; 3) The chasm line is below man; 4) Animals, plants, and machines are placed below the line.  Since man is above the chasm here, it means we share the attribute of personality with God, and therefore through that means God can communicate with us.

The theological liberals simply assume that God is not personal, and thus they erase the second diagram. If only the first diagram existed, then it is true that God could not communicate in a meaningful way with us, since He would be infinite and impersonal. However, God is personal, and He created us as persons, and therefore the second diagram does exist and it accounts for meaningful divine communication. Remember what I said earlier. The fact that derivative persons exist (us), an original person must be the source (God). No human has ever observed the personal come from the impersonal, but we have all observed the impersonal come from the personal. We have seen personal humans create impersonal machines. We have never seen an impersonal machine create a personal human. So the very experience of reality proves that God must be personal since we are persons. This then not only makes divine communication  possible and understandable, but it makes it necessary. This attribute shared between us and God necessitates a relationship, and this relationship necessitates communication.

An important implication comes from this. Abstract absolutes such as love, justice, good, evil, etc., are real things that we understand precisely because God defines them as such. We, being made in His image, are hardwired to understand these absolutes and live according to them. This is why no human can escape them as I demonstrated in previous posts. Everyone who claims to live without absolutes simply lies to themselves. Well, if there are no absolutes, and all that exists is an impersonal reality, then something as important as love does not really exist. It cannot be reduced to matter in motion, otherwise it would be meaningless. It cannot exist if no objective abstract absolutes exist, since love is an abstract absolute. Yet, all humans talk about love, fall in love, and claim to support love. However, apart from the God of the Bible, love cannot and would not exist as a meaningful reality. It would be a nonsense word. Love exists because God exists, and God is love. The members of the Trinity exercised perfect and pure love toward one another for all eternity. Love is a property of persons, not things, and thus the three persons of the Trinity exercised this personal attribute of love to an infinite degree for all time. We as persons, made in the image of God, also are able to exercise this attribute of love as though it is a real thing because it is a real thing. Unbelievers have no reason to treat love as though it is real, but they do.

They even get political about it and support notions like gay marriage. They do this all in the name of love. They treat love like it is real, but then deny the only foundation that love could ever be based upon – God. And that very foundation (God) has defined and declared what love is like. He has authority over love since it is His attribute. And yet with gay marriage, fallen man rebels against what God has revealed about love. It is quite strange. They appeal to love even though it would be meaningless on the grounds of their worldview, they demand us to agree with them, and all the while they thoughtlessly reject the foundation of love. So even in the manner that the world loves, they rebel against God. It is absolutely astonishing.

Due to the fact that we are persons, and God is a person, communication is possible. This divine communication to humans also grounds the abstract absolutes in an unchangeable reality. It explains why they exist and why we live by them. And it objectively defines such attributes setting the standard for them. Truly then, divine communicate is the basis for humans having a grand unifying theory. Not surprisingly, fallen man blinds himself to all of this and perverts the absolutes that God has given us. They then hypocritically claim all is relative, but then attempt to force all people to accept their definitions of these things. Only one word can them – irrational. 

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