A few weeks ago, I began reading through Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Bible Doctrine with my good friend, Pastor Robert Altman. Sounds ridiculously entertaining, right? We thought so too.
This afternoon while preparing for our review of chapters 9 & 10, I was reminded of a quote, R.C. Sproul made famous. The quote goes, “Everyone’s a theologian because everyone has a view of God.” He elaborates in his book what I will put bluntly..some of us are terrible theologians because we have beliefs about God that are simply inconsistent with what the Bible teaches (Orthodox Christianity).
This led me to think, what are some of the unbiblical ways Christians view God? Here are the four I’ve experienced recently:
1. God is Inconsistent – “God is angry one minute and loving the next.” (Issue: God’s immutability)
- I have heard many Christians refer to “the God of the Old Testament” and the “God of the New Testament” like they are two different gods. This is not what the Bible teaches. If God seems “different” to you, it may be the result of not understanding the God’s story as a whole. It is not that God became less emotional or strict in the New Testament, but relates to His children in light of the atoning work of Jesus.
- In the Old Testament God delivers His holy standard to humanity, the law. In the New Testament the Son of God fulfills the standard of God. Jesus, when questioned about the differences in how people are to relate to God says, “i did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” Jesus accomplished what Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David could not do, fully satisfy the wrath of God (1 Timothy 1:15).
- I remember it this way:
- Old Testament = Promise Given
- New Testament = Promise Fulfillment
The Bible says:
25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. (Psalm 102:25-27)
“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.(Hebrews 13:8)
- Note: Process Theology views God as changing and is considered Unorthodox Christianity (or contrary to traditional Christianity).
2. God is Unappeasable/Unrealistic – “It is impossible to be a Christian and do all that God commands us to do.”
The Bible says:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 J0hn 5:3)
So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
- God’s Story reminds us that no one was able to keep the law fully, regardless of the prophets and messengers God sent their way. But there was one messenger who fully followed the law on our behalf, and His name was Jesus Christ. We receive righteousness not by our own completion of God’s law (although we follow the example of Christ!) but by trusting in Christ’s completion! (Romans 3:22)
3. God is Needy – “God created us because He was lonely.”
- Note: Human beings will never fully understand exhaustively the attributes of God. The only attributes we understand are those which have been revealed to us. Some of the revealed attributes of God are: love, faithfulness, holiness, and sovereignty.
- There is nothing lacking or could possibly deliver more glory to God than the perfect relationship of the Trinity. However, springing from the revealed attribute of God’s love, he made us to be loved by Him and enjoy Him forever.
The Bible says:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.(Acts 17:24-25)
- One of God’s incommunicable attributes is His independence.
- God did not need humanity, but out of His love he created, revealed, and adopted humanity as part of His eternal plan. (Eph. 3:9-13)
4. God is Absent – “God is uninvolved or does not care about what is going on down here.”
The Bible says:
“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:23-24)
- Christianity teaches that God was so moved by the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience that he entered into the mess and provided a promise of restoration. (Genesis 3:15) This promise was fully realized when the Son of God took on flesh and dwelt among us and lived the life that we couldn’t (Philippians 2).
- Traditional Christianity understands God as Omnipresence, or unlimited with respect to space.
- Deism is an Unorthodox Christian belief which says that God created the world but became uninvolved after spinning it into existence.
Do you possess the humility needed to place your view of God (on good days/bad days, in need/or in plenty) up against Scripture?
Sometimes we read Scripture, other times Scripture reads us, corrects us, and sequentially (over time) turns us into the men and women God has called/enabled us to be!
So I must ask, what sort of theologian are you?
I pray that this helps you grow in your love for Jesus Christ and His Mission. (Luke 19:10)
- Robert Altman, conversation on blog topic, June 2, 2016.
- Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England.: Zondervan, 1994.