How do we accurately speak of God?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Crabtownboy, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    We humans are so limited by language, especially in any discussion about God. My question is how do we discuss God without using too much anthropomorphic language ... and thus diluting our understanding or out message about God? Because of our language limitations I find this a very perplexing problem.

     
  2. freeatlast

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    I certainly agree that our Creator is far more complex then our language's ability to convey Him in that complexity. I am also sure that if He wanted us to be able to convey Him in totality He would have given us not just the ability to speak terms that accurately describe Him but the ability to know what we said about Him. So I would surmise that what He has given to date must satisfy not just our need for the moment, but His grace to be known.
     
  3. canadyjd

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    God has condesended to us by revealing Himself in ways we can understand. The revelation is found in scripture. Although not complete, it is a truthful revelation of God and His attributes.

    Therefore, if we speak of God in the terms given to us by God (in scripture), we should do just fine.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  4. BobinKy

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    Yes, this can be a problem. When speaking to people in the general public, I use the term "God."

    However, when speaking to those interested in religion, I often use the trinitarian persons of God. I use "God the Father," "Father God, "or "Creator." When speaking of Jesus, I use "Jesus," Jesus, Son of God," or "Jesus, our Saviour." I refer to the Holy Spirit as "Holy Spirit" or "Counselor."

    Several years ago, I contracted with a carpenter to do some home improvements at our home in Ohio. Whenever the carpenter spoke about himself, he always said "We" or "Us." One day, I asked him who he was referring to and he said himself and the Holy Spirit. His tradition was Dunkard Brethern. And his carpentry work was excellent!

    ...Bob
     
  5. preachinjesus

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    I just finished reading a text talking about this exact issue. There is the concept that God is so beyond our ken that any words about His characteristics fail to begin to communicate with substance. Another view (held by folks like Tillich) is that speaking of God is existentially impossible.

    While I am not suggesting an extreme approach I will say that all language that we use to speak about God will fail to adequately describe His character and being. We can, though, speak concretely about God's character and being using language that edifies ourselves, informs ourselves, and beings to understand His self-revelation of His characteristics.

    When I read the Scriptures and see the descriptions of God in the text it seems fairly plain that one can use language to speak of God because God uses language to speak of Himself. :)
     
  6. Amy.G

    Amy.G
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    This is one of my favorite passages in scripture because it describes God the Father and God the Son perfectly, in just a few words beginning at the book of Genesis and ending at the book of Revelation. It's like the whole bible in a few words.


    Colossians 1:16-20 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
     
  7. Crabtownboy

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    Amy, indeed it is a beautiful passage. Have you considered just how hard it would be to explain this passage to a person whose English skills are not very good, or, indeed, to a person with good English skills, but with no Biblical background or knowledge.

    For instance:
    1. What are thrones, dominions?
    2. What powers?
    3. Head of the church? In what way? How is this manifest?
    4. What is firstborn of the dead/ I can see this being very confusing and possibly being viewed very negatively.
    5. What is "dwell in fullness"?

    I could list more questions. I am not looking for specific answers to these questions ... rather just pointing out that this is a most difficult passage to explain. At least it would be for me.


    Years ago I had a friend who said that the first time she heard the song, "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood," she almost threw up on the floor and almost left the service. She did not have a background to understand the phrase of 'fountain filled with blood'.

    Think of how a person with no Christian background might view the opening words and took the literally.
     
    #7 Crabtownboy, Feb 3, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2011
  8. abcgrad94

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    Sometimes simple is better. For me, God is everything I need. He is the reason I exist and the one who holds together the whole universe. Those two statements don't use any fancy words, but flowery speeches aren't what brings people to Christ. We only need simple believing faith.

    I think of the story of Moses, where he had problems communicating. God told him to "Go, and I will be with your mouth. . ." Moses just had to be a servant. God took care of the rest.
     
  9. Joshua2415

    Joshua2415
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    We are humans and are finite and physical. God is infinite, of spirit and beyond any cosmic image we can draw up of Him. However, we as humans are still made in his image according to Genesis, and from observing our own physical universe which is His creation, the attributes and life of Jesus Christ, and the specific revelations given in Scripture, we can start to comprehend God on a very general level. Much of God is a mystery, yes, but even God describes himself to us in human and anthropomorphized terms, and sometimes even other physical objects. For example, God calls himself a "jealous God." He speaks of His mercy, wrath, grace and justice. God is described as having eyes, a heart, a mind, and arms. God himself became human in Jesus Christ. God certainly doesn't bend to human emotion or have human emotions--He is God--immutable. Emotions change, God doesn't. However, He describes himself in these terms, and so do we.

    I don't see anything wrong with describing God in terms that make sense to us in our language. I imagine if we were able to see God visibly with our eyes and survive, and still speak English, we'd be pressed to come up with any words in a million that exist in our vocabulary to describe what we saw. We might be able to say light, rainbows, stars, the sun, thunder and lightning, and so on. When John saw him and described it in Revelation, it was in similarly indescribable terms. We are a people of language, and we use language to describe God and even communicate with God in prayer.

    And we have some words to describe some of God's attributes--omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, holy, perfect, just, merciful, etc. Of course, none of those fully describe God--they are only attributes.

    So is the question what is God, who is God? That's a big, big question, for an infinite God. We can use the Bible, the life of Christ, our own personal experience and the church to find an answer. And the answer will likely be incomplete, in human terms. Ever try to describe the concept of the trinity? "God in three persons." "Three in essence but one in substance." "A mystery." That in itself is mind-boggling. No wonder people who are wed to human logic can't come to grips with it without God's divine will.
     

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