Sunday, May 13, 2018

"God Said"

The following work is a response to my friend who is an agnostic / atheist. He from time to time challenges me on my faith and poses questions of interest. Since I haven't posted anything in a while I thought it might be interesting to post some of our conversations.

Greetings My Friend,

I'm not sure if you were done with my last question to you about the Killing of Jesus, but, here is another issue I would like to address to you:

It is written in Genesis that God said, "Let there be light (Gen !:3); in Gen 1:6 God said, "Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water;" and in Gen 1-11 God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to the various kinds"....and so on.

Okay, here are my questions: Why did God have to speak and who was he speaking to? Himself? Was God using "magic" to conjure up all that he desired? states to conjure a call into existence by magic. 


You do have a keen eye for scripture, were you ever to come to faith, you would make a great theologian! No God did not have to speak, nor did He speak as we would understand it. This involves God’s otherness, remember before we talked about His “being” and that He is not like us. He has no mouth to speak with, no parts to form sounds with. He is spirit and spirit is non-corporal. (Joh 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.) 

 As a spirit and as the Supreme Being He is revealed in scripture to be at all places at all  times. He is no less present here as He is in heaven or the far reaches of the universe. His being fills all things, He is understood by theologians as a Simple being, because He does not consist of parts, therefor he has not a mouth with which to speak.

What we have throughout scripture is what theologians call “anthropomorphic language.” It is a way of presenting the acts of a spiritual being in terms relatable to human understanding. In scripture we find God doing things with His hand and arm. (Luk 1:51  He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.)  (Isa 40:10  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.) Yet He has no parts, no hand, no arm. He is even here described as coming or moving from one place to another, yet He cannot move, there is no place for Him to move from or place to move to, He is Omnipresent at all times and all places. He is also said to be angry, to be please, to laugh, to love, to hate, to be grieved. Yet He has no emotions as we would understand, this is called God impassibility.  He is described in scripture as immutable, meaning He cannot change. Any movement from anger to laughter would be a change in His being, of which He is incapable, being immutable. You can see the far reaching conquences to this immutable being when it comes to our understanding.

Yet we find these terms used constantly throughout scripture. It makes Him reasonable to our minds, allow us to follow Him in thought as His time passes through our lives. This mystery is deepened in John chapter 1.

(Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

Joh 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God. 

Joh 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.) John speaking of the same event as your reference in Genesis 1, speaks as if the Word that was spoken was a Person, not a sound. So what did God do in the beginning? What ever He did that brought about the existence of matter, space, and time He has deemed it most accurate to describe it to us as His speaking.

In Exodus,  (Exo 3:8  And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites) God is described as coming down. Does that mean He was somewhere else for a time? No, He is Omnipresent. But as events occurred in time and life experience, He deemed it most accurate to describe this action as coming down. It is a way to relate the action of a spiritual being in terms and reasons a physical mind comprehends and understands. It makes the action knowable.

In Numbers (Num 23:19  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?) Here it is said that God is not a man that he should lie or repent. Yet, in Jonah it is said, (Jon 3:10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.) There are a number of things here, besides the contradiction, you again have God changing His mind. But an immutable being does not change His mind, also, a change necessitates a receiving of additional information that renders a more perfect action. Yet God is not only immutable, but omniscient (all knowing) and perfect in that He cannot improve upon His actions. So how do we understand this language?

In the events of time we see changes, God is seen and understood to be involved in all such events. In the language that describes these things for us, God appears to change in mind and actions; yet it is the events in time that are changing and God remains immutable, omniscient, and perfect. But the language reveals these events in human terms and presents God in a form our minds relate to and understand.

The Westminister Confession speaks of these things thus, (There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory;
most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.) 

John M. Frame says it well, “Although God's eternal decree does not change, it does ordain change. It ordains a historical series of events, each of which receives God's evaluation. God evaluates different events in different ways. Those evaluations themselves are fixed in Gods eternal plan. But they are genuine evaluations of the events. It is not wrong to describe them as responses to these events.
Furthermore, we have seen that God is not only transcendent beyond time and space, but also immanent in all times and spaces. From these immanent perspectives, God views each event from within history. As he does, he evaluates each event appropriately, when it happens. Such evaluations are, in the most obvious sense, responses.
Does such responsiveness imply passivity in God? To say so would be highly misleading. God responds (both transcendently and immanently) only to what he has himself ordained. He has chosen to create a world that will often grieve him. So ultimately he is active, rather than passive. Some may want to use the term impassible to indicate that fact.”

Perhaps Gene, you can see in this my passion in knowing and understanding the nature of God. It is fascinating to the mind, exciting to the soul, reaching into the wonders of such a being. (Eph 3:9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 
Eph 3:11  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:)

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,