Christian belief about the nature of God
Christian belief about the nature of God:
Christians believe in one God – Monotheism. They believe that God is both:
· Transcendent – Beyond space and time
· Immanent – Present in all parts of the world.
Different Characteristics of God
Different characteristics of God -
Omnipotent – All-powerful Omniscient – All-knowing
Omnibenevolent – All-loving Omnipresent – Present everywhere
Eternal – Has no beginning or end Holy – Special, separate, different, sacred etc.
Judge – Will judge everyone
Personal – Is interested in how people behave and wants them to treat each other properly
Active and sustainer – God is active in the world and is the sustainer of creation. Creation is totally dependent on God for its existence moment by moment.
Creator – The creator of the world and everything in it
God is self existent – the uncaused cause
Trinity – This means that God is 3 in 1. God is a Father, a Son and a Holy Spirit. Each does different thing although they all work together.
Father = Creator
Creator, power behind the world
Son = Saviour, redeemer
God coming in Jesus, working to bring the world back to himself
Spirit = Gives new life and makes holy (sanctifies)
Presence of God living inside people, bring them new life
Cosmological argument – The cosmological argument to prove the existence of God is based in our experience of the world – and the questions it raises. These questions are based on our experience of causation – that there is a chain of cause and effect.
Thomas Aquinas was one of the leading theologians in the middle Ages. Aquinas ‘worked out’ the Cosmological Argument to prove the existence of God.
He argued that we know everything had a cause and that something cannot come out of nothing. If everything in life has a cause – and that has a cause... and that has a cause... and that has a cause etc. then it is logical to argue the universe as a whole has a cause. Something, or someone, must have caused it to come into existence.
Theological argument – The teleological argument is another argument to ‘prove’, through reason that God exists. It is also known as ‘the design argument’.
The design arguments say that because the world is so complex is must have a designer.
The Anthropic principle says that some people think that God designed the universe for us and that others think it happened by chance – through the laws of probability.
The moral argument
Morality – is concerned with right and wrong. As human beings, we are able to think about what we do and say and to make choices between right and wrong actions. We feel guilty if we do something wrong – we have a conscience, which we use to make moral judgements on issues and situations. We also have a sense of obligation, especially to help others – we know we ‘ought’ to do certain things.
For religious believers they think all this is evidence of the existence of God. God gave us morals and made us understand right and wrong.
Religious experience – occur commonly in for ways. For Christians mainly, but for other religions as well, these are real. However for non-believers they are imaginary. They are:
1) Conversion experiences – God is ‘calling’ them to report their sins and ask for forgiveness.
2) Healing – God will heal people and answer prayers.
3) Visions – God has spoken in visions or dreams - they have seen angels, the Virgin Mary or the resurrected Jesus.
4) Prayer and worship – Believers feel closer to God during worship. Prayers, hymns and readings enable them to experience God and to ‘feel his presence’.
Problems with these reasons
· The theory of evolution can explain why there seems to be ‘design’ in the universe – it can all be explained naturally. There is no need for God as an explanation.
· The Big Bang can explain why the universe exists. Science has the answer – there is no need for God as a ‘1st cause’.
· People made God. They invented God to give themselves some comfort and security in a huge, harsh universe and in a world full of death, darkness and disease.
· Science has proved the Bible to be wrong about many things. The role of God in our world has been reduced stage by stage with the advance of science.
· If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in the world? Wars, poverty, disease, floods, earthquakes etc.
· Morality can come just from the family and society. It can be explained without the need for God.
The traditional definition is ‘an event that goes against the laws of nature.’ E.g. walking on water or rising from the dead.
•HEALING- healing paralysed man •NATURE-walking on water •RESURRECTION- bring back young girl to life (Jaius’ daughter) •EXORCISM- talking the devil out of Mary Magdalene
God intervening in the world
Belief in the incarnation – God’s coming into the world in the person of Jesus Christ is based on the miracle of the virgin birth.
The resurrection of Jesus – Unless a person accepts that God had the power to raise Jesus from the dead and conquer the power of death they cannot call themselves a Christian.
Miracles are both in the OT and the NT. Biblical miracles are either: Healing miracles or Nature miracles
A miracle is often defined as an event in which God is seen as being active in the World An event in which God apparently breaks the laws of nature and reveals himself to humans.
Fundamentalists = Believe that miracles happened exactly as recorded in the bible.
Liberal = God is not found in the literal interpretation of the bible, but more in the messages and underlying teachings.
Arguments against miracles
Arguments against miracles
· They go against the laws of nature and are therefore irrational
· You should not trust testimony against others
· People will always choose to find an exciting solution to events as humans love a good story
· Maybe they are an effect of the human mind
Creed – a statement of belief. It literally means, ‘I believe’.
God – a shapeless, invisible force.
Personal – Interested in you.
Immanent – Present in all parts of the world (everywhere).
Transcendent – Beyond space and time, above all.
Impersonal – Community and creation.
Father – A loving, caring man.
Spirit – He does not have a body.