“God,” is the first word we will look at in this series, and is no doubt a crucial one in understanding the New Testament narrative. This week we will consider the word “God” as it is used in modern contexts.
One great way to consider the modern understanding of a word is through the Encyclopedia Britannica. Let’s take a look at some of the entries together.
God and Man
The Encyclopedia Britannica states that the words “god” or “goddess” are generic terms “for the many deities of ancient and modern polytheistic religions. Such deities may correspond to earthly and celestial phenomena or to human values, pastimes, and institutions, including love, marriage, hunting, war, and the arts.”
This view seems to suggest that either men make gods according to who they are and what they desire and need, or God makes men according to the same. After reading this, I had an interesting question: according to this definition of “god,” can we say, “No god(s), no men,” or should we say, “No men, no god(s)”? In other words, such modern definitions still struggle which came first, gods or men? This is like the common expression: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
From Genesis we find our answer:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. … And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.Genesis 1:27 ASV
God’s Place in the World
The encyclopedia continues:
God (in both absolute and relative senses) is a part of the world and immanent in it. Though only a part, however, his power extends throughout its totality.
this view asserts that God is one of many parts of the world, alongside the heavens, the earth and living creatures etc. I would rather say that the absolute and relative God purposely placed Himself to be part of the world in order to be the keeper and savior of it by His influential power. By this expansion, our view of God is elevated. God is brought beyond equality with human beings.
The Power of God
Modern definitions express still another viewpoint:
by philosophical reflection on the nature of God, it has been typically assumed that God is the sum of perfection and is omnipotent and omniscient.
I am so grateful for some noble philosophers’ in-depth seeking and searching for the intrinsic meaning of God, such as Plato. Their seeking has led and guided us to a deeper and more inner exploration of who God really is, which is not by man’s view but through particular enlightenments — even divine instructions. God is not just a Power or some sort of Superman; God is the totality of all Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in and above the universe. God is All-Powerful! God is All-Wise.
One particular viewpoint the encyclopedia portrays is the revelatory character of God – The God of the Bible is the God who presses toward revelation. The creation of the world is viewed as an expression of God”s will. As for the genuine and true God, He is truly interested in revelations. He which eyes have never seen, and ears have not heard, and which has never come into man’s mind in the world, yet NOW has been revealed to His believers by His Spirit. God created the world (especially man) and He loved the world. God’s eternal power and His divine characteristics are on full display in the created world. The created world is His masterpiece. This is the revelation of God! This is the spirit of Christianity!