If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and only if, then the only accurate description we have of God is given to us in the words of Jesus Christ. Even then we can't take it as gospel as we can only make (informed) guesses as to which words came out the mouth of Jesus and which ones were purely the invention of the writers of the gospels.

We can have our own ideas about the nature of God above and beyond the claims of Jesus and we can choose to believe what other people believe. But we cannot claim that they are true. Therefore we should never insist that other Christians believe these unverified characteristics of God. We certainly should never force non-believers into living their lives in accordance with our guesses about the nature of God.


GOD IS… WHAT EXACTLY? — 10 Comments

  1. Well done, MP. This, of course, is exactly why we are labeled “revisionists” and non-Christians. And still, I endorse what you have written. “If you are reviled for my sake, blessed are you.”

  2. If we apply even some critical thinking skill while reading the Gospels, then you have nailed the conclusions or at least interim positions that we reach. Which is why in some of our American school districts, suggesting that critical thinking skills be taught will get a teacher fired.



  3. …the only accurate description we have of God is given to us in the words of Jesus Christ

    I wouldn’t say the only accurate description – I’d say the most accurate description. After all, other people who have a less personal relationship with my Dad than I do can still know accurate things about him, but they won’t be as accurate as the things I know.

    • The problem we have is that we have no way of knowing if their experience of God is real or a deception. They don’t either. Of course, we can choose to believe such accounts of God, but we cannot insist that others do.

  4. I believe that God gives each and every one of us a BS-o-meter and we need to let other people determine what sets it off for themselves. Our gut tells us “something is not right here” when we hear things that don’t add up to us. The issue I have is not what’s IN the Bible, but what’s NOT in the Bible. An error of omission is just as bad a sin, to me, as an error of commission. And we have omitted much, especially the slicers-n-dicers of the early church.

    That said, I agree with jimB above who states that reading with a critical eye is necessary to gleaning information from the Gospels and I would extend that to apply to really anything. Just because it’s in print, doesn’t make it automatically true, complete or accurate. Partiality of the author is part of human nature. Even gifted Biblical scholars will tell you that the Bible was “divinely inspired”, not “divinely written”.

  5. We have no proof that it was divinely inspired. It’s just something we say. maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. I very much doubt that it was inspired anymore than anything else a believer in God has ever written.

    • True, true. I do believe that many writings over the centuries are divinely inspired. One of the things I’ve always railed against in my Christian faith is this notion that the Bible is “The End”. That’s it. God stopped talking. Finished. Finis. I don’t believe that for a second. To say that Paul is more divinely inspired and deserves a place in the Bible over St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or C.S. Lewis is ludicrous. I firmly believe that God continues to talk to us through many divinely inspired avenues. And that we need to keep reading to keep experiencing him.

      But I don’t need proof – that’s what faith is. Belief in the absence of empirical knowledge.

  6. Although I mostly agree with your apophatic approach, I believe (faith, can’t “prove”) that God is love. And love cannot be forced on anyone or it is not love.

    • There are major themes in Christ’s teaching that run through all the synoptic gospels. If we believe that Christ is the Son of God it seems reasonable to assume that these themes are linked to the nature of God. One of these themes is that God is very near and that God loves and cares for God’s creation.