Several recent articles surrounding Christmas and religion have caught my attention. Many of the writers who I admire and follow closely seem to theorize that God needs to be reasoned. I would argue that understanding God is much more simple and straightforward for God has revealed himself. Those who seek to find him through great bouts of cerebral contortions end up with a well-reasoned, man-made God but where is the claim to truth? Others have tried to find God through science and there is some scientific evidence that there must be a God but really no information about who or what he is. There is however, a simple way to know the truth about God. God is only found by those to whom he is revealed; Mathew 11:27.
We, the human race, seem to make things much more difficult than they really are. A good rule of thumb; if it is mystical, it is simply not true. True religion is simply that, it is truth; it is not supernatural; it is not make believe. God, as he truly exists, has revealed himself to us, he is continuing to reveal himself and he will continue to do so in the future. If we are attuned to him, we need not guess. We as sentient beings are just as capable of discerning truth from fiction as we are at creating fiction from observations. So, Who is God?
In order to for us to proceed, we need to make only two assumptions:
- God is knowable. For us to understand who and what God is, we must have the capacity to understand him, if not perfectly, then at some level where that knowledge will be beneficial to us.
- God, either directly and/or indirectly, interacts with us. It is only through that interaction that we can come to understand who he is. If there is no interaction then we are left in the dark and again have no means of discovering his true nature but can only guess.
Based on our assumptions, lets examine the leading possibilities. Where has God been revealed?
I have heard the argument from my atheist friends and family that all religion is fantasy. You may as well pray to Zeus or Mickey as to a Christian god. The fallacy in that argument is that Zeus and Mickey Mouse are noted fictional characters. Jesus the Christ is not. Whether you chose to believe or not, there is evidence in the Old Testament and in the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth which indicates that God is not fantasy.
There are, of course, religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., which are nontheistic in nature. These rituals and religious practices are not set around a belief in God. Rather their value lies in understanding life and self. Therefore, they offer little in helping us to understand who God is.
Islam is based in the God of the Old Testament, which offers prophetic testimony as well as personal witnesses as evidence. Islam states that God is Allah and that true belief then is found in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad rather than Christianity.
Judaism is also founded in the evidence of God as revealed in the Old Testament. It adds teachings found in the Torah and other texts. It is the oldest of the options but some argue that their failure to recognize Christ has hindered their ability to fully understand the nature of God.
Catholicism teaches that the knowledge of God came through Old Testament prophets and ultimately through Christ. After the crucifixion and subsequent loss of the Apostles, Christianity struggled on points of doctrine for about 300 years. Doctrinal issues were finally settled around that time through various councils and later refined by Church Fathers. This resulted in the doctrine of the Trinity and is widely held as a true understanding of God by most Christians. While not specifically mentioned in scripture, it is held that the essence of this doctrine is taught in them.
Protestants say that the various councils and Church Fathers of Catholicism got some things wrong and that many important points of doctrine were later changed to permit heretical practices and untruths. Doctrine was therefore reformed to more closely resemble the teachings in the canonized Bible as interpreted by the particular protestant organization. There are currently 6 major ecclesiastical-cultural mega-blocs with Wikipedia listing 40 major divisions in protestant belief. The concept of the Trinity, however, has remained mostly intact with a few exceptions.
Of the exceptions to the Christian belief of the Trinity, the most noteworthy is that of the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), or Mormonism. Mormons believe that God has a physical, perfected, eternal body of flesh and bones. While mortal, men are literally created in His image. Jesus is God’s literal son both spiritually, as are we, and his only son born in the flesh. Christ was resurrected with an eternal and perfected body of flesh and bones like the Father’s. The Holy Ghost is also a separate being from God the Father and is a spiritual being without a physical body. God the Father is the object of worship. Christ is the mediator, Savior and Redeemer of mankind. The Holy Ghost testifies of truth. These three separate beings are “one” in their purpose and are united in fulfilling the work of the Father. Together they make up the Godhead. In other words, Mormonism rejects the concept of the Trinity and favors a more literal interpretation of key scriptures. Of interest is that in addition to biblical accounts, they offer modern day eyewitnesses of God the Father and his Son as well as current apostolic witnesses of the resurrected Christ as evidence.
In summary, we have four options based on scriptural revelation, which explain a different version of who God is.
- God of the Old Testament with additional understanding provided through the Torah, etc.
- God of the Old Testament with additional understanding provided through the Koran and Mohamed his prophet.
- The Christian Trinity.
- God the Father, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost all one in purpose but separate and distinct beings.
So, which of these options is truth? We have assumed that he is knowable and that he interacts with us, otherwise we can’t answer the question. So how can we know; how can we initiate an interaction with God that can lead to him being revealed to us?
The answer is found in Jeremiah 29:13; “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” It is also well stated in the New Testament; James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” So, the answer is very simple. We just need to seek and to ask. That is the key to God revealing himself. If you ask sincerely, with an honest desire to know, and are willing to accept the answer, that interaction will occur. Always.
So if you really want to know who God is and you ask in sincerity, how do you recognize the answer? The answer will usually come through the spirit. Sometimes it comes as a small still voice. So, when you pray, listen quietly. Pray in secret and make it a two-way conversation. Be specific in your requests. It is often then that you can feel the answer. In that quiet moment God will speak to you. I know what I felt. Let me know what you feel.
Samuel Waen Jensen