‘But what is God like?’ I was taken aback because I knew from casual Bible reading that Jesus and our Father are one. I knew also of the passage in Hebrews that declared,
‘God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they’ Heb 1.1-3 NASB.
What I did not know at the time was that our church along with some others began with an attraction to Arianism with its supposition that Jesus as son was a separate and solely human creation of the Father. However Jesus says that if we have seen Him we have seen our Father – which is not to say that they are the same person but that as the son of man and son of God He is the expression of the Father as well as the expression of ourselves as human beings. Jesus came to reveal Father, reveal us and to reveal Himself as the new and living way of union with God.
God is known through Jesus and Jesus is revealed by Holy Spirit. Revelation is personal.
Thomas Torrance is helpful quoting Athanasius when he observes, “He pointed out that to approach God as Father through the Son is a more devout and accurate way than to approach Him through his works by tracing them back to him as their uncreated Source.” (1) And so it is. To deduce God from nature alone can lead us to paganism and the survival of the fittest – which some need no encouragement in absorbing into their religion.
SENSE OF THE NUMINOUS
The creation is incarnated with the presence of God. The non-religious sense this. Atheists and agnostics who spend time in the desert or the bush sense this Presence even if they do not know what it is and often try to deify nature. Part of the re-creative effect of a pilgrimage or travel holidays is to find oneself renewed by the testimony to God’s presence as revealed in landscape. But this is not God since He is ‘person’ and never ‘object.’ The knowledge of God is revealed in sharpness and truth in the person of Jesus Christ. In Christ we can know nature and align ourselves with God in the creation instead of abusing it.
A focus on the law pushes us to revere externalities. It obscures the truth that we are part of God and God is part of us. It supposes that the life of God is inherent in objects and behaviours and perpetuates a dichotomised religiosity of secular and sacred that has no place in human beings and the creation. We have a unified creation that since the cross has been made one with God. We are speaking ‘at-one-ment’ and certifying that being ourselves and one with the creation is the effect of our union with God. Torrance writes,
LIMITS OF UNDERSTANDING
“In such an approach [dualistic] we can do no more than attempt to speak of God from his works which have come into being at his will through his Word, that is, from what is externally related to God, and which as such do not really tell us anything about who God is or what he is like in his own nature. That line of approach, as both Athanasius and Hilary insisted, is entirely lacking in accuracy or precision (ἀκρίβεια).” (2)Lacking in accuracy and precision because this is revealed in the person of Jesus: The living word.
John alerts us to the fact that the Word is alive, not inert but intrinsically meaningful and revealing.
‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ Heb 4.12. The living word reveals the nature of God, the nature of us and the nature of those entities that claim to be of God but are actually iniquitous.
BY HIS SON
God speaks to people through people and emphasises this by saying that ‘In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.’ His Son speaks to us directly in these present days through Christ in us and through Holy Spirit. As a result God, ourselves, society and the creation are best understood through the Jesus lens – a personal eye glass that is alive and revealing, permitting us to view circumstances as Jesus sees them.
Condemnation, rejection and separation are foreign to God. We were created from the womb of radical belonging and redeemed into it again by radical love. We belong and we and Father are one. “The Christian God is interested in relationship with us, and not just relationship, but union, and not just union, but such a union that everything He is and has—all glory and fullness, all joy and beauty and unbridled life—is to be shared with us and to become as much ours as it is His ” (3) C Baxster Kruger, The Undoing of Adam.
(1) Torrance, Thomas F. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 49). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
(2) (2) Torrance, Thomas F. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 50). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.