Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A "human" God

The influence of humanism on the church runs deep. It manifests itself most notably in a rampant Arminianism – which holds that man’s “free will” is the one aspect of humanity God may not assail (but that’s a subject for another time). Even though humanism runs contrary to a biblical worldview we have allowed aspects of it to creep into our theology.

At first the contradictions may be so minute as to be almost unnoticeable. But, as the effects of humanism creep farther and farther into the teachings of the church it is inevitable that, at some point, a clear contradiction will present itself forcing us to make a decision. Are we going to turn from the false teachings we’ve allowed to go unchecked, repent, and re-embrace the Bible as the sole authority for our faith? Or, are we going to continue to rationalize some sort of synthesis between humanism and Scripture that results in a worldview that, once again, drifts farther away from the “faith once for all delivered to the saints?”

One such contradiction is the incarnation. There is a school of thought, which posits the notion that one of the reasons Jesus came to earth was so God could find out for Himself what it is like for us (this dovetails with open theism, another heresy gaining popularity today that I addressed here). This teaching asserts that God, never having been a man Himself, could not possibly know what life as a human is like. This is a clear projection of human limitations on God.

It is true that we, as humans, better understand things if we can experience them for ourselves. But our capacity for understanding is extremely limited. God’s is not. God spoke all of creation into existence. It is His providential hand that guides creation. He understands our circumstances, reactions, and emotions better than we ourselves. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and great of power: His understanding is infinite.” Acts 15:18 says, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning.”

Scripture goes on and on and on. There is no mistaking this: God knows all things. To think that He must experience something first-hand in order to better understand it is contrary to Scripture. A god who must experience in order to understand has something to learn and, therefore, is not omniscient.

And yet there are those who continue to insist God is like us and needs to experience things first. Of course, this is not a new thing. People have always tried to make God more like themselves. Martin Luther, the German reformer, once rebuked his contemporary, Erasmus, for this very mistake. “Your thoughts of God,” he wrote in a letter, “are too human.”

The Scriptures even contain an instance where God scolds an apostate Israel for this very heresy, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself.” (Psalm 50:21)

The sad thing is the modern church, when presented with each subsequent contradiction between humanism and biblical authority, seems to embrace humanism and thus accelerates a downward spiral away from orthodoxy. May God convict each of us to return to His Word and conform our thoughts accordingly and give us the boldness to reject any errors we’ve embraced that contradict it.

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