We Know so Little about God But we use big words as if we didn't (know so little)

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    We Know so Little about God
    But we use big words as if we didn't (know so little)

    Every statement from us about Christ is bound to be an understatement (because of verses like Isa. 55:9). Even if we have the words right (and that is usually when we are closest to just using Scripture) we still understate in the sense that we don't really understand the concepts we use of God.

    I am not yet speaking about God, but of the words themselves. Words, in the final analysis, are pitiful instruments to tell of the wonderful truths of God - or many other things in this life. Very often, whether in some other branch of knowledge or in theology, we use words, not to come to grips with something hard to understand - but to make it go away. We do this with a semblance of "having tackled the problem".

    We give a name to the strange force of electricity. We tag it and bag it with eleven letters and neatly slot it away from our consciousness. But what is this electricity? Really?
    Gravity?
    Galaxy?
    Photosynthesis?

    Such knowledge is too wonderful for us.

    Eternity?
    I have a chart, for instance, I have used both in teaching at church and at the school to show that we don't really fathom what is involved by glibly saying God is infinite.

    The demonstration works like this: I first ask them a "stupid" question, as one of my students might have categorized it: "How many infinities are there?" They almost invariably say "one".

    Then I draw an X/Y chart on the board, showing, first of all, how there is an infinite number of positive numbers from zero to infinity. This is a no-brainer.

    Then I draw another line from zero backwards to negative infinity. Heads start scratching here - the more insightful ones. This, after all, is another infinite set, and we have only drawn two lines!

    I can then show them that there seems to be ( I stay away from the indicative mode at this point. I want conclusions to come from them, or not at all) an infinite number of sets.

    We have an infinity of all odd numbers,
    Of all even numbers,
    Of all multiples of, say, 8
    And this can go on, well, ad infinitum, each set trailing off into its own domain of infinity. All separate yet, so it seemed at first, equal.

    An infinite number of infinities!

    I finally end my demonstration with putting a large circle around the whole chart, saying that this represents all that we can fathom about infinity. Then I write a large "G" in front. And a large "D" at the other end, spelling "GOD". This spells out the truth that God is bigger than we can ever imagine.

    (I have since found out that my "discovery" has long been made by a mathematician of two centuries ago, George Cantor, and that there is a whole branch of math called "set theory".)

    We say God is "infinite". But we are saying much more than we can comprehend.

    How is God infinite?
    Infinite in time: Eternality.
    Moses saidof Him (Psalm 90:2) “From everlasting to everlasting You are God.” (“everlasting to everlasting”= Eternal). Only God is truly eternal.Though Christians have eternal life, it is only so from this timeforward, not backward. See also Deut. 32:40; 1st Tim. 6:16.

    Infinite in Knowledge: Omniscient: (“all-knowing”).Psalm 139 describes this and the following two aspects of God(omnipotent and omnipresence). Verses 1- 6 refer to omniscience. AlsoPsa. 147:4- 5.
    Everything God planned, He did from eternity past?

    He knows the future because His will is done in it and His wisdom and omnipotence brings it about.

    Infinite in Power: Omnipotent:
    (“All-powerful”) “El Shaddai”. This is God’s total ability to achieve His perfect will. “Is anything too hard for God?” (Jer. 32:17, 27)

    Infinite in Space (Immensity): Omnipresent:
    He is everywhere. Psalm 139:7- 12.
    God fills every part of space with His whole Being! “Do I not fill heaven and Earth?”: I Kings 8:27. See also Isa. 66:1, Jer. 23:23- 24.

    This is not pantheism. God is everywhere, but He is not everything. Immensity” means not just that God is everywhere, but that He is fully present in every place.

    All of God is in the room in which you, my reading friend, are reading these words, wherever you are.

    Where can I go from Your Spirit?
    Or where can I flee from Your presence?

    If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
    If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

    If I take the wings of the morning,
    And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

    Even there Your hand shall lead me,
    And Your right hand shall hold me. - Psalm 139:7-10
     
  2. Iconoclast

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  3. HeirofSalvation

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    Interesting, but I think we conclude that God is NOT, strictly speaking, and actual infinite. Your mathematic example demonstrates that actual infinity is self-contradictory. God is not a walking contradiction of himself or anything else. There is a similar group of mathematical quandries that demonstrate the absurdity of actual infinities such as Hilbert's Hotel.

    I think we are mistaken if we take it that God has existed FROM and eternal past TO an eternal future. God I would argue simply exists timelessly and he has created time...and the Bible tells us that eventually time will be no more.

    Or He is simply Omniscient, because he is Omniscient. Not that he causes all things.

    Only space is not infinite....And again, as a non-physical being, he does not have to occupy space..Time, Space, and Matter are all creations of his and they are all inherently dependent upon one another, God is not required to occupy any of them.

    The thrust of your post is indeed remarkable :) Thanks :thumbsup:
     
  4. humblethinker

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    It seems to me that some of our ideas of how God is get us into situations in which God is therefore necessarily absurd.

    Tom, I like the idea of your post for sure. I think all words, communication, and language are actually metaphor, no?
     
  5. HeirofSalvation

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    :applause::thumbsup::love2: YUP!!!!
     
  6. asterisktom

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    I agree with all of these comments.

    Perhaps I shuld have given some background. This was a (somewhat) Christian school. I was trying to use math to take away a misconception, more than to build a new one in their minds. The heads of many of those dear students of mine were filled with trite and sentimental nonsense about God.

    The best words - especially when we speak of God - are the ones which rend us speechless. I have always suspected, both in myself and in others, over-fine (for want of a better word) commentaries on these attributes of God. Certainly we are required to study and teach what we know of God, but never as a lifeless piece of analysis or fodder for argument.

    I like Isaac newton's quote. As I get older the ring of truth seems clearer and clearer:

    "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

    Than can be certainly applied to God, though it does not fit on a whiteboard.
     
    #6 asterisktom, Apr 3, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2012
  7. HeirofSalvation

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    Great quote Tom!! :thumbsup: and especially from the likes of someone like Newton.....how humbling.
     

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