This one’s going to be a little bit more theological than previous posts. Fair warning if you’re not particularly interested.
Anyway, so one thing I’ve seen relatively often is people saying that the God of the Bible is either nonexistent or not actually loving, and then having their evidence be essentially comparing God to human beings—usually found in parodies and the like, but oftentimes found in more serious things as well. Things like the Canaanite genocide/ethnic cleansing often come up here, but you run into other things as well. Well, this used to cause me some trouble, until I did some reading, a bit of thinking and talking, and after an unconscionably long time came up with the only answer that makes sense theologically and logically.
God is God, humans aren’t.
Here’s the thing about people. We tend to give human characteristics to non-human entities. This especially occurs when such an entity—in the only case so far available, God—invites the comparison by doing so himself. This is all well and good, and is oftentimes quite useful.
However, there’s a problem we run into when we take the analogies too far, and we start believing that the analogy contains the full nature of the entity described. The problem is that we start believing that we get to define the words of the analogy, and then proceed to define them based on our own experiences.
Our experiences that are entirely found in dealing with other broken, fallen, created beings.
That last adjective is the most important. Here’s why.
For instance, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the notion that God made the universe for his glory. This is because people don’t like other people who do things for their own personal glory, and this is right. However, here’s the deal. Despite the fact that we are fallen beings, there are still fragments of the original state of man that, by God’s grace, reside within all of us. One of those, I suspect, is that whenever people claim glory for themselves, there’s a niggling feeling that they’re claiming something that is at least partially someone else’s. This is because someone helped them get to whatever goal they reached, no matter what happened–even if it was something like giving them the physical/mental/spiritual emotional ability to do what they did.
However, here’s the thing: None of that those last three sentences are true of God. The uncaused cause, as some philosophers put it, he owes no one anything, because he made it all and made us all to begin with. In other words, unlike human beings, he actually deserves all the glory. All of it.
There are numerous other examples of this sort of thinking, but the other one I’ll address is the notion that God getting to make the rules because he created everything means he’s some kind of tyrant. Often analogies are made to various fictional mad scientists making various sapient entities, or species “uplifting” other races to sapience and demanding their worship/servitude. This sticks in most people’s craws, as well it should.
However, this doesn’t really work, for the same reason that the last one doesn’t really work. In either one of those situations, the originator in question is attempting to usurp a position that is not his to take. Why? Because the originator was created himself, in some shape, form, or fashion. What that means is that, in attempting to establish absolute power over his creation, he is asserting power that he got from somewhere else, which means that he cannot and should not assert absolute power because he does not and cannot possess such. There’s basic wrongness to the notion.
God, however, has absolute power, because he is the uncreated creator. It is not, therefore, wrong for Him to do as He will. Indeed, He is right to do so.
I know this won’t particularly mollify the hostile, or quiet all the questions. If you still have some, or think I missed something, drop an e-mail or comment or something, and I’ll get back to you right quick.
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness