Study of God – Part 3
By: John Ankerberg Show
IV. Anti-Theistic Theories (con’t)
- E. Dualism: Two opposing forces; good and evil.
- Manichaean Dualism: From Manes, a Persian, 215-76 A.D.
There are two eternally existing spirits, or gods, one good and one evil. Creation, or matter, is essentially evil, and was created by the evil god as his instrument.
- Zoroastrian Dualism: From Zoroaster, a Persian prophet.
AhuraMazda (light) created matter as good; later the evil god, Angromainu seduced the first two humans and spoiled the whole creation.
- Weaknesses: The same weaknesses of polytheism apply here. Dualism leaves man in hopeless despair, since he never knows whether good or evil will triumph, thus destroying holiness as a necessary part of perfection. Thus creation and God are constantly changing. We cannot accept a God who is unsure of Himself because of opposing force of evil.
F. Deism: From the Latin deus, “God.”
- Definition: God created the universe, endowed with attributes, set in motion the established laws of nature, then departed to where He could observe its functioning. If He interfered, it would imply that creation had to be adjusted and is not perfect and thus God is imperfect. Therefore since creation must operate perfectly on its own, God cannot reveal Himself to His creation, nor communicate with it.
- Deism contradicts the moral nature of man. We have the testimony of conscience and moral responsibility to a Supreme Being.
- A concept of any deity necessitates infinite perfection, and part of perfection includes rulership over creation.
- Deism implies that a perfect God cannot do what imperfect creatures can do—communicate with each other. On the contrary, lack of communication would involve God in the limitation of not being omnipresent.
G. Evolution: The world developed from crude homogeneous (one kind) material to its present heterogeneous (different kinds) state by means of resident force.
- Atheistic Evolution: Matter is eternal and self developing.
- Weakness #1: It cannot account reasonably for the very thing upon which it is based: the first appearance of life; this theory is unscientific.
- Weakness #2: They must believe in spontaneous generation, or, the appearance of life without life. Science has proven this to be impossible.
- Theistic Evolution: God created the original materials, then used evolution as the slow process by which things came to be in their present state.
- Weakness #1: If I am a theist and believe in a Personal God Who has power to create original life, I discredit His ability if I say that life evolved.
- Weakness #2: Theistic evolution contradicts the Biblical account, and destroys the miraculous from the Word of God.
V.Biblical Theism: General Definition
This is the doctrine of One God, Who is a Personal, immanent and transcendent Being Who is absolute and eternal, the Creator and Preserver of the entire universe, and Who, by His Providence, guides all things to their destined end. Explained specifically:
A. One God: God is One in Essence or Nature, existing in Three Persons; Deut. 6:4; 4:35.
B. Personal: God possesses those traits inherent in personality, namely, intellect, sensibility and will; Ps. 139:1-6.
C. Immanent: He is present and involved with His creation everywhere present in His totality; Ps. 139:7-12; Acts 17:27-28; Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:8; Ps. 33:6; 1 Jn.1:3-5; Acts 17:24.
D. Transcendent. He is greater than, and separate from, His creation. Job 38:4-6; Acts 7:48-50.
E. Absolute. He has supreme authority over all beings, things; sovereign in power. Daniel 2:20-22.
F. Eternal. Everlasting self existence; no beginning or ending. Genesis 21:33 (El- Olam) Psa. 90:2; 1 Tim. 6:16.
G. Creator. Solely responsible for origin of all the universe; material and immaterial, creating it ex-nihilo, “from nothing,” Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:18; Acts 17:24.
H. Preserver: He continuously maintains all things He made, along with their properties and powers; He provides life or energy for the ongoing of His creation; Neh. 9:6; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3.
I. Governor: God controls all things and brings about the fulfillment of His all-wise plan. He is the only free Being; Ps. 103:19; Acts 3:17-18.
Having established proof for the existence of God and having refuted false theories about God, it becomes necessary to show that a communication with God is possible and necessary; after this comes a study of the nature and extent of revelation, at which point a consideration of the Scriptures enters in.
A. The Possibility of a Revelation from God: Can God, the infinite, make Himself known to finite man?
- The Analogy of Nature: As we look about we see an ability to communicate on the part of creatures. Through sounds, movements and general awareness, animals make themselves known. On the human level, we add to these methods by words, expressions, writing and all the electronic inventions. Therefore, taking this to God’s level, it is inconceivable to think of the Creator as not having the same or greater ability to communicate.
- The Image of God in Man: Man possesses intellect, sensibility and will which argues for the same in God, only to an infinite degree. Since God is a Person, He has the intellectual ability to communicate; He has sensibility (love, for example), the desire to communicate: He has will, or the determination to communicate.
- The Moral Responsibility of Man: Conscience. We have used conscience to prove the existence of God, that is, that there must be One to Whom man is responsible. Thus God must reveal to man just what that responsibility includes. There must be a standard of moral government set down as a revelation from God for man to follow.
B. The Necessity of a Revelation from God: Why should God, and why does God have to make Himself known to man?
- Apart from divine revelation there is no way to bridge the gap between the infinite and the finite. Thus, if there is to be any contact, God must reach down to man, or man cannot reach up to God; Job 9:33; 1 Tim. 2:5.
- Apart from divine revelation, there is no way for man to come to a knowledge of certain truths. Our intelligence and observation can go only so far and no farther. Our experience can only include so much and no more. General revelation from nature is helpful, but not adequate for knowledge of spiritual truth pertaining to salvation and eternity; Rom. 1:19-20
- Apart from divine revelation there is no way for man to distinguish between the religions of the heathen which are morally corrupt, and the truth, which must be consistent with God’s holiness. At best, man can become dissatisfied with the corruption, but he cannot know the truth without divine help; 1 Cor. 2:10-14. Even Socrates said, “Wait with patience, till we know with certainty how we ought to behave ourselves toward God and man;” or Plato, “We will wait for one, be he a god or an inspired man, to instruct us in our duties and to take away the darkness from our eyes.”
C. The Nature of Revelation from God: How He makes Himself known to man.
- General revelation of God through nature.
- The laws of nature point to an all-wise God. The order and stability of the planets, the law of gravitation, the working of the heart valves to pump blood; all these laws are dependable and point back to an Intelligent Being.
- The adaptation in nature; the fitness of the universe and all its parts; the foot for walking, the wing for flying, the fin for swimming, all point to the goodness of God.
- The reoccurrence of life in nature; new leaves each Spring, the birth of babies and animals all testify to the power, wisdom, providence and preservation of God; Job 38.
- General revelation of God through History.
- God does not always permit the good nation to win, but He does honor those who honor Him. Therefore history is really “His story” of how He controls nations in order to accomplish His divine purpose. In the final analysis, God is the Judge; Ps. 75:6; Dan. 2:21; 4:35.
- God has preserved Israel as a nation. Even if we had no Bible, the historical testimony of this small nation continuing in existence would be amazing. Only by divine providence could this nation have been preserved; Deut. 28:1; cf. Hab. 1:13, 2:3-4.
- Special revelation of God by Direct Communication.
- God spoke directly to Adam and Eve; Gen. 2:16, 3:8; to Cain, 4:6; to Noah; 6:13.
- God appeared in visions, to Abraham; Gen. 12:7; in dreams to Joseph, Gen. 37:5; to Pharaoh; Gen. 41:25.
- God appeared in visible manifestation (theophany) as the Angel of Jehovah; Gen. 18:3; Zech. 1:12-17; and in the Shekinah glory; Ex. 14:24; 40:34-38.
- God communicated directly to and through the prophets; Isa. 6:1; Ezek. 1:4-28 and many others
- Special Revelation through Miracles (from mirari, “to wonder”)
- God uses means, by changing water to wine, Jn. 2; by multiplying bread and fish, Jn. 6; without using means; creation, Gen. 1; healing various diseases; going beyond means, the long day of Josh. 10; Samson’s strength, Judges 13; or by going against means, in raising the dead; Jn. 11, or drying up the Red Sea; Ex. 14.
- Value of miracles in revealing God.
- They reveal His presence in creation; Gen.1:1. God intervenes; He is immanent; concerned.
- They show His power; Matt. 9:5-6. He supersedes natural law, does not change it.
- They attest the man of God and his message; 1 Ki. 18:36; Heb. 2:3-4; Acts 14:1-2.
- Special revelation through Christ.
- Revealing God’s Person; Jn. 8:58; 14:9; His wisdom; Jn. 7:46; His glory; Jn. 1:14; His life; 1 Jn. 1:1-3; His love; 1 Jn. 3:16.
- Revelation of His Work; Jn. 5:19, 36.
- Revelation of His Plan; Jn. 5:25-27.
- Special Revelation through Scriptures.
- Accuracy (Inerrancy): It cannot contradict nature, science or history.
- Canonicity: It cannot contradict itself. Spurious writings are shown up by contradiction.
- Sufficiency: It must have doctrines to meet man’s needs now and to prepare him for eternity.
- Morality: It must contain an ethical standard which is morally perfect.
- Unity: It must have unity of purpose and development. (40 different authors over 1,600 yrs!).
- Authenticity: It must be preserved intact from generation to generation.
- Authority: It must be attested by miracles and fulfilled prophecy.