Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Can We Know God?

Not too long ago I posted the characteristics of God that He has revealed to us through His Word (“I Am slow to anger and abounding in grace”) and those that we can infer from observing His creation (Omnipotent, Omniscient, Self-existent). I’m going to do a series (every Tuesday or something like that) that fills out some of those characteristics a bit more. The reason for that is a reader said that my list of characteristics (see below) was nothing but negatives ("Kind" just means not cruel) and you cannot prove a negative. I think he was being facetious, but with people like that, you just never know.

In the original post I stated we can know that Creator God is:

Intelligent - Only intelligence can create intelligence
Caring - What He asks of us is for our benefit
Moral - His character makes possible objective morality by which we live
Merciful - At His own expense He made possible the forgiveness of our sins,
Slow to Anger - He has put up with us from the beginning of human kind,
Mind / Logos,
A friend to the poor,
Full of Grace,
Patient - continues to bless those who hate Him,
Triune: Father, Son and Spirit,
Lord of lords,
King of kings,
Sustainer of the universe.
Independent of His creation,
Perfectly Holy,
Elohim - The strong One, mighty Leader, supreme Deity.
Yahweh - Self-existent, Changeless, Provider, Present,
Adonai - Majestic, Master, Owner.
True God,
Supreme Lord.
Perfectly Just
Perfect Love

Atheists of course say that we can’t know God, so how could anyone worship a God they don’t / can’t know? Like most everything concerning God, those apart from Him simply can’t recognise the presence of their Creator even as a whole universe of evidence for His existence surrounds them.

So, next Tuesday - if you like this topic.


  1. OK, So sit there and stew in your own ignorance.

  2. Boo to the anonymous commenter. Cowardly and rude, a bad combo.

    You left out one trait that is kind of important: jealous.

  3. Hey! You're right. I did. I'll try to remember to fill that one out as well. I'm curious. Would you be willing to explain what that means to you?

  4. If you mean jealousy, I see it as a character flaw of weak minds with inferiority complexes. Oh, and divine beings with tough competition among the various pantheons at the time. Not much for God to be jealous of, these days, unless you still see Mammon as a god.

  5. Can you think of another way for jealousy to be something that indicates love - a good kind of love a noble kind of jealous even in a human-being?

    I mean, I can just tell you what it means but I was wondering if you have even been taught this or could even figure it out on your own.

  6. A noble kind of jealous? Is that to go along with His gracious anger and chivalrous vengeance?

    I think I need your help on this one.

  7. "Is that to go along with His gracious anger and chivalrous vengeance?"

    :-) No, there is nothing gracious or chivalrous about the wrath of God. That is just full blown (as the Bible describes it - undiluted) hatred toward everything that is destructive to humanity. Which leads me to this.

    Let’s suppose you and your wife haven’t been getting along. Marriage is important to you. You want it to work. More than that, you love your wife deeply. Yet, despite your best efforts she is just not ok with your performance in the relationship. Maybe it’s hormones or a depression or maybe she had expectations of how relationships are supposed to work that aren’t anything close to what she’s getting. And despite how hard you try to make it right you can see her slipping away. You can see she is deeply unhappy and you can’t do anything about it.

    What’s more, you know that she is working with another guy that seems to bring her joy. She finds him exciting and intellectually stimulating, and she actually seems to enjoy going to work with him more than being home with you. You know the guy who’s charming her and you know he’s a jerk. He doesn’t care about her. He just wants to use her and hurt you. Yet, she’s working longer hours. About once a week, every Wednesday now that you think about it, she calls home to say that a meeting just came up and she won’t be home till late.

    You love your wife. You want to spend the rest of your life with her. You want to be good to her. You want what’s best for her. But nothing you do seems to make any difference.

    Would you still see your jealousy as a character flaw? Or would jealousy be a justified response?


  8. I don't have to talk hypothetically on this. The first woman I was engaged to cheated on me and left me. What I felt wasn't jealousy. Betrayal, heartache, confusion, even anger, but I never felt jealousy. Jealousy doesn't come from a loss, it comes from the anticipation of loss.

    I find anxiety over the possible loss of someone to be quite unbecoming of a being that knows all things.

    But in point of fact, I think, given the Hebrew and Biblical context of the use of the word "jealous" in the Bible, I think ""jealous" is the wrong word. I think the proper terminology should be "vain," because the passages imply a self-aggrandizement and an anger for those (and the children's children's children of those) who "hate" God by not bowing down to Him. Again, I don't think "hate" is the right word here, either, but the KJV is what it is.

  9. First of all - to Anonymous. Please don’t be put off by Bret. He’s a gentleman and can’t help himself. While I don’t mind your rudeness, as Bret calls it, I don’t usually respond to Anonymous comments - Now to Bret:

    “I find anxiety over the possible loss of someone to be quite unbecoming of a being that knows all things.”

    Why? The anxiety is not from the unknown. It’s from the known. “For I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”

    He knows what will happen to you if you continue down the path that you’re on, and because He loves you He wants you to repent and change direction. He won’t force you to do that, but that’s what He wants for you.

    Part of your problem can be found in Psalm 50:21 “You thought I was altogether like you.”

    This is actually something that atheists accuse Christians of doing, creating a God in their own image. You’re doing that here with your Creator. You think that human love is like God's love and human jealousy is like God's jealousy. Regardless of how you define jealousy, in regards to Creator God it means that He doesn’t want to see you do the thing that is exactly the worst thing for you - to leave Him out of your life.

    For people to be fully alive is to be in a forgiven and healed relationship with their Creator. You can’t know that from your vantage point, but it’s true.

    When you have children and see them doing self-harming behaviours you’ll know the Biblical meaning of jealousy. It is not something weak, it is not a flaw, it is a sign of deep love. He wants us to put Him first, not because of arrogance or vanity (again Psalm 50:21) but because that is how / when our lives are at their best.

    Would you have put up with your ex’s unfaithfulness? Well neither will your Creator. If you want to abandon Him he’ll help you pack.

  10. Thesauros wrote: "Would you still see your jealousy as a character flaw?"

    Absolutely yes.

    Granted, I am confident -- based on my experiences -- that I would react much differently than the hypothetical person in your hypothetical story.

    In short, all I can do is be me. If she's not into that, then there's nothing I can (or want to) do to change that.

    (To clarify, I'm 39 years old, so I've been through similar situations.)

  11. Also, given your hypothetical story, do I have any evidence that she's cheating on me? Your story doesn't give any.

    Therefore, for me to be jealous means that I am assuming that she's doing something wrong even though *I have no evidence of that*.

    I don't like it when people accuse me of things that I haven't done, so I treat others in the same way.

    Therefore, absolutely yes, jealousy would be a character flaw.

  12. Thesauros wrote: "Regardless of how you define jealousy, in regards to Creator God it means that He doesn’t want to see you do the thing that is exactly the worst thing for you - to leave Him out of your life. "

    That is *quite* an interesting re-definition of the word "jealousy". Have you ever known anyone to use this definition for any reason besides trying to excuse your God's behavior?

    I haven't.

    The spin is enough to make my washer & dryer jealous.

    (See, that's how the word is used!) :-)

  13. I doubt that I have to explain to you that the meaning of words can and does change over time. Sometimes to the point of meaning exactly the opposite of what it used to mean. I'm giving you the meaning of the word jealously as it was used in reference to God's love for us when the Bible was written.

  14. So, you're using the Humpty Dumpty defense:

    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

    No one ever uses the definition of "jealous" as you used it there. They use the definition that you used in your hypothetical story of the wife at work.

    C'mon now.

  15. So you DON'T know that the meaning of some words has changed dramatically over time? How about:
    to name just a few of the more recent ones.

    I agree with you on what Jealously means today. I'm saying that it did not mean that when describing God's love for us then.