The single most crucial component of seeing the world and seeing ourselves rightly is seeing “God” rightly. He made the world, he made man according to his likeness and he placed man in the world he made for his purpose and pleasure.
I received an important comment in response to Ridiculous Doctrines – Religious Pluralism. My friend writes:
You are defining “God as he is and on his terms” in a manner that fits you and your religion. You have faith that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. For many, they look at the same text and dispute your assertion as impossibly at odds with the reality of the lives they lead and the experiences they have everyday.
This is certainly the rub: how one defines “God.” But can we “know God?” If so, how? And which god? Aren’t all notions/interpretations of “god” from other faith traditions essentially equal?
One’s notion of who God is and what he is like could be shaped by a number of factors — experiences, intuition/imagination, the intuition/imagination of others etc.
All of us are living in a world of ideas which have been heavily influenced not by external “revelation” but rather by man’s rational thinking, a super strong belief in the power of human experience, and empirical data. We challenge teachers for proof. We demand it in the courtroom. We demand accurate science from so-called authorities and scholars. We must have either experienced truth or learned it from other “authorities.”
How about knowledge about God? The problem: if all of our concepts of who he is and what he demands of us are gained through limited human knowledge, our ideas about God will always be distorted. Imagine if we approached knowledge of God, but only relied upon human reason, experience and empirical data. Instead, we must understand the unique nature of expressed truth (what theologians call “revealed truth“). It comes from outside of ourselves. God has to reveal himself to man. We need (we depend upon) God’s own self-revelation.
By definition, God is an absolute, personal and perfect being. This is necessarily the starting point to determining how we ought to define God and therefore, how we ought to live. All of reality is both spiritual and, therefore, ethical. (Seeking biblical references? Leave a comment.)
The truth too, by extension, is not internal. Truth cannot be achieved alone through reason, experience or empirical scrutiny. It is also revealed (by something external).
Without absolute authority which is revealed to us from the outside, we would have to define “God” or “truth” according to limited human values alone. We would be hopeless to know either God or his truth. We would be blind, being led by others who are blind (Luke 6:39). We have exchanged knowledge of God for a lie (Rom. 1:18-23).
The solution to the problem: God has not hidden himself (Rom. 1:19). He has fully revealed himself in what he has made (Rom. 1:20), what he has said (Heb. 4:12), and in Emmanuel — the person of Christ (John 1:17-18, 3:19, 3:34, 7:16, 8:26, 12:49-50, 14:24, 18:37, Mt. 5:17).
A primary tenant of an accurate and complete biblical worldview is that Christianity is revelation-dependent. I must receive revelation from outside of myself. It demands humility. It demands my submission. It assaults self-sufficiency and human intellect. God uses the foolish things to confound the wise. Lest one become like a child, he cannot see God.