THEOLOGY PROPER – HOW IS GOD FATHER?
© Carlos Padilla, February 2020
Theology was once called “the queen of sciences” by Augustine of Hypo, and he was quite right, for the Object of its study is the greater that exist, God Himself. How theology is understood today in a postmodern world and how to make it relevant to the non believer and to the believer of today? This Doctrinal Study of Systematic Theology presents the Biblical Theology that is fundamental to know God and His work. But we will also take a look at Bibliology to test if the Bible is the prophetic book of God to man. Knowing its structure, thematic, canon, composition, history, doctrine, inspiration, fulfilled and pending prophecies, length of time that it covers, its precision has no comparison in the world of history, literature or philosophy, nor in religion, for all that it does not look like a human work. It is called the special revelation of God, and together to His general revelation of His creation, is where the advanced sciences of the models of the origins prove that the universe emanates intelligent design, which proves that a superior mind has created and sustains it. Is that same mind the one of Him who loves us and emanates from Theology and Biblical doctrine? Theology Proper studies God Father.
Theology Proper – God the Father
Having explained that Theology Proper refers to God and in particular to the Person of God Father, I find a question made by the theologian Ernest Trenchard in his brief and useful book, which is: does God exist? Followed by another: has God spoken? If we answer to these two questions, we find that God has revealed and He tells us how He is. God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24), Jesus replied to the Samaritan. We also find that God is eternal “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14). God is Love (1 Jn. 4:8). But also, through the rest of His attributes, as we shall see further, God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, Who as well as treating with love, He does it with justice, because He is the Creator of the Universe through the Word, and holds it through His divine providence with a great purpose. Though God is one we will also know that the Divinity is formed by the three Persons of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, something reflected in the name Elohim, in Hebrew from (Gn. 1:1) which is a plural substantive with the verb in singular. Jesus, from His part takes us to “go to the Father” and “pray to the Father” in (Jn. Chaps. 14 & 16). Philip asked Him to show them the Father, to what He replied that he who saw Him had seen the Father, a revelation of the eternity of the Son in the bosom of the Trinity (Jn. 1:1). The Father is the First Person of the Trinity which is designated by theology. Father of creation, our Father (Act. 17:29) of His linage. Father of Israel, of David and of all who fear Him (Psa. 103) but overall Father and our Lord Jesus Christ – Yahshua, the Second Person of the Trinity, eternal Father of the eternal Son, something that our finite mind cannot reach to assimilate and it is a relationship of unity in sanctity, in contrast with the Incarnation. These important subjects have cause many headaches to Christianity since century I, and in the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) it was defined. And the Father of all those that believe in Jesus Christ through being born again as John 3:3 to be able to see the kingdom of God, something that no human being can do, that only God can, that one is born again from the Spirit; Jesus said to Nicodemus.
The Existence of God
The existence of God is one of the subjects studied by Dogmatic or Systematic Theology, called Doctrine of God. We have two presuppositions within Christian faith: God exists and has revealed in His divine Word. The study of Theology has been modified by fashions, and therefore with the influence of Schleiermacher in the XIX century, who leaving the authorized revelation of the Word of God went on to base his study on the religious conscience of man, his emotions and fears, so the man stopped seeing the knowledge of God as something given in Scripture to believing that he is now an investigator. It is my belief that Theology must begin with the Doctrine of God or Theology Proper because God is the beginning of all, also of Theology.
The Biblical proof of the existence of God is closer to what it is known to be the great presupposition of Christianity: that God exists. Hebrews 11:6 shows Paul inspired revealing “…because it is necessary that he who comes to God believes that He exists and that He is awarder of those who seek Him”. To this respect Dr. Kuyper argues that the intent to prove the existence of God may either be useful or unnecessary. In the first case, if the investigator believes that God is awarder of those who seek Him; and in the second it happens when a person with no faith is being forced through rational arguments to be convinced using logics.
Those rational proofs of the existence of God are more recent in their use although Plato and Aristotle had already mentioned some of the foundations of philosophy of religion. Four of the arguments are the ones normally used from which we include the bases of their principals.
Man has the idea of an absolutely perfect being; that existence is an attribute of perfection and that therefore there must be an absolutely perfect being. This is the more precise form of the argument developed by Anselm. Also Descartes, or Samuel Clarke and others taught it. Being evident that we cannot infer a real existence through an abstract thought, it is not a concrete proof, nor a logical proof as Kant would argue, but Hegel saw it as the principal argument in favour of the existence of God. Today we also find that some, like Hocking call “The Report of Experience” from their idealistic point of view, reason for them to expose the argument like “I have an idea of God, therefore, I have an experience of God.” Regarding experience, we must mention Heidegger because his ontological thinking is base in it, but (Lk. 11:28) tells of the blessing of those who receive the Word of God, because through the Bibliological proofs and because of prophecies we know that it is safer than a person’s experience, which is different before knowing God and receiving the Holy Spirit.
Cosmological or Kalam Argument
All that exists must have an adequate cause; also the universe, which takes us to an infinitely great cause. This initial proposal of why something exists instead of nothing and refereeing to the cosmos is what the Arabic term “kalam” wants to provide us with to argue from a natural Theology. There are some detractors in Hume and Kant who argued that if God was the cause, He would also have to have a cause. But, if we take the argument of Norman Geisler: Some changing beings exist. This cannot be denied. The present existence of each changing and limited being is caused by another. The potential for the existence can only be done by an existence outside of it. There cannot be infinite recoil of causes of the being. Therefore there is a primary Cause for the existence of these beings. This primary Cause must be infinite, needed, eternal, simple, unchanging and unique. When the Being proposed in this chart is compared with the God of Scripture, we conclude that they are identical.
As the cosmological argument has evolved in its arguments, today we also count with a kind of science that though not new, it does have new support from the scientific results which is Intelligent Design which supports Creationism. From these disciplines and with the scientific model that provides, it is difficult that those that study it without prejudices don’t accept it as support to general revelation. An example is the impossibility of evolution of the human eye.
The world that surrounds us, nature and the cosmos emanate an order, harmony and a design that includes physical laws that reveal intelligence. This argument is the most powerful and completes the previous. Both nowadays complement each other, and this one is culminated with Intelligent Design and the previous with Creationism, both support each other. Kant, in its time said that it was a better argument than the previous, but still it didn’t prove that God was the creator, but it did that it was an intelligent mind, and architect has designed all. Hegel did accept it like new Theists do today.
Ethical or Moral Argument
All people have a moral or code of conduct, but seek the superior moral in search of justice. Because of the existence of that human conscience of a moral that tell us what is good and evil, even though the differences in cultures and traditions, all accept that there must be a legislator; it is thought to be God. Atheism does not provide any solution to moral or ethics and gests lost reaching nihilism. In the postmodern world, good and evil is something relative, there is no longer a universal morality established, instead each live by their rules, like Nietzsche proclaimed in his philosophy of the death of God, which follows with a social disaster that we live today, but also to the innate search of a moral, something the Creator seems to have placed in the inside of each person through conscience.
Atheism and Arguments Against the Existence of God
Opposition to Christianity is based in the denial of the existence of God, or of a God creator and/or saviour. The denial of the need of redemption, the denial that Christ could exist eternally and incarnate, die and raise, and that His passion was expiatory. The denial that the Bible could be the Word of God. The denial of sin, of creation, the spiritual, the angels, God’s moral, His Commandments.
Christian arguments are definitive whether Biblical, rational or empiric for he who listens with a sincere heart. In metaphysics, naturalism, materialism and atheism oppose. Naturalism has permeated society to such point that the world emanates its concepts in all media alike. The education of our children is based in Darwinism, evolution, big-bang, etc. Politics has left God’s moral aside and has corrupted and entertainment is based in temporary pleasures, eliminating the consequences of sin, here and in eternity. Creation radiates intelligent dosing. Metal entities argue that all people seek happiness, have dreams, ideas, feel and need love, imagine, project, etc. We can also understand the laws of logics, numbers, music, to provide arguments to atheists and naturalists to defend the abstract as non physical. Dualism teaches that there are two realities, one abstract and other physical, one immaterial and other material, the Spirit of God and creation. Naturalism on the contrary only talks the eternal material of the universe of which all material beings are made of. There is no spirit, no soul and no abstract, only the universe and the body. While dualism embraces all abstract, like ideas, the spiritual and seeks arguments; naturalism cannot provide arguments for thoughts, numbers, beliefs, therefore looses the discussion.
In epistemology, rationalism is our worst enemy. The stoics had to rule themselves by the intellect, but their faith was pantheist, to some Paul spoke in Athens. For example Scotus in his vision of faith and reason differs from Thomas Aquinas. For Scotus, on the contrary than for Thomas, faith and reason are opposite because they cannot reconcile to explain the same matters. Reason must be limited to what can be proven, Theology and the dogmas of faith. However revelation is to reason a new light that changes the human being and brings him closer in a relationship with God, which all Christians experience, which is not debatable, for subjectively and empirically all during centuries experience what the Bible teaches, not only rationally and morally but also in our feelings by the Spirit. To Jean Paul Sartre, his existentialism carries him to atheism; in general existentialism includes atheism. Sartre and Camus reflect in an approximate way the hermeneutic and philosophic view of Gadamer and his master Martin Heidegger, contrary to Unamuno, but his philosophy is centred in the denial of the existence of God, because man is not a perfect and stable being. Man is discovered by what he has managed to become, did not exist before, and emerges. Nobody is good or evil by nature, relativist morality, sin does not exist.
Ethical relativism took to atheism and communism. Engels and Marx synthesized their dialectic materialism from their demolishing critic of the mechanical materialism of Ludwig Feuerbach and of the idealistic dialectic of Hegel. Feuerbach’s materialism they considered as a materialism that was influenced by some sources of metaphysical and idealistic philosophical currents of thought. According to Marx, in his scientific atheism God does not exist, matter is eternal as primary reality. Conscience or the thought are only products of the material organ of the body the brain. God, according to him is not necessary to create matter because it is eternal, therefore he does not believe in God. This is called scientific atheism. But the problem is that science itself has proven through Big-Bang and through the laws of quantum physics that matter has origin and therefore it is not eternal, so the arguments falls and it takes us to an origin, a God. The Bible does provide a coherent answer according to science. The philosophy of Nietzsche both in its logic as in its metaphysics takes him to an antichristian atheism, psycho-philosophical, of humanistic cut in the eternal return, with human life in the centre, the vitalist solution. His epistemology draws on a myth, the ring of existence as a solution to fulfil the place of God. His logic is therefore an intellectual fraud, because after accepting the existence of the transcendent and postulating the eternal, his ethic against Christianity is the transmutation of values. The last big opposition to Christianity is ethical relativism which errs in its subjective vision where each person determines his own moral following his feelings.
This Study is longer and is being translated from the Spanish website Jesucristo.net