Exploring Theology: A Guide for Systematic Theology and Apologetics
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by Clarence H. Benson, Robert Morgan
Description: This logical and accessible look at systematic theology and apologetics will aid everyone in understanding and communicating the essentials of the Christian faith.
eBook Publisher: Crossway Books, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: June 2009
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [608 KB]
Reading time: 326-456 min.
THE STUDY OF GOD is the greatest one in which man can engage. It is one subject that is truly inexhaustible. The source for all knowledge of God is God Himself, who has chosen to reveal Himself to men through the universe that He created and through the Scriptures that He inspired. Theologians speak of natural theology (that which can be known of God through nature) and revealed theology (that which can be known of God through the Scriptures).
Certain evidences of God rise from man's observation of the world about him. To those who have eyes to see, "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1). God is the great need of the vast creation in which we live, and consequently He must exist. One might as well think of throwing a rope into the air and climbing up it or building a tower on nothing and expecting it to stand as to explain creation without a creator.
Is knowledge of nature or natural theology sufficient for a knowledge of God? Read Romans 1:18-25. Here is a picture of the heathen to whom God speaks through nature. The statement of Paul that "the world by wisdom knew not God" (1 Cor. 1:21) is strictly true of the history of religious systems. No heathen religion ever embodied the true conception of God, though some have had most monstrous ideas of Him. Man needs the revelation of God's Word and God's Son to really know God.
GOD IS A LIVING BEING
Shown by Nature
There is much evidence in nature to substantiate faith in the existence of God. Using facts found in nature, Christian theologians over the centuries have developed rational arguments to attest God's existence. The most enduring of these are:
The Cosmological Argument
For every effect there must be a corresponding cause. Since the universe (cosmos) is an effect, there must be a cause adequate to bring it into existence. That cause is God.
THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
The Greek word for "bring to an end, finish, complete, carry out" is teleo. Our world reveals intelligence, harmony, and purpose. From the evidences of design and purpose in the universe as studied through the telescope and the microscope, it must be concluded that the cause or creator is intelligent.
THE MORAL ARGUMENT
Since man is a moral being, possessing a sense of right and wrong, his creator and judge must be moral.
THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
Since the concept of the absolute being is necessary in man's thinking, such an absolute being must in point of fact exist. If this is not the case, then all of man's reasoning is merely relative. The Greek word ontos means "in point of fact" or "in reality" or "truly."
THE RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT
Archaeologists and anthropologists tell us that mankind throughout history has been religious. No culture has been or now is totally devoid of religion. Since the phenomenon of religion is universal, there must be some truth to it.
Perhaps none of these arguments alone carries compelling proof, but together they testify forcibly to the reasonableness of Christian belief in a living God.
Affirmed by Scripture
Scripture gives unqualified affirmation to the existence of God. The opening phrase of Genesis, "In the beginning God," sets forth the basic assumption of the Bible, and in the rest of the Scriptures it is never denied or even debated. So indelibly impressed on virtually every page of the Word is the Living God that to consent to its teachings is to brand atheism as sheer heresy. The best that the Bible can say of the atheist is that he is a fool whose reasoning stems from the heart rather than the mind (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).
GOD IS A PERSONAL BEING
The fact that God is a person is of great consequence. It is because God is a person that revelation, fellowship, and prayer are not only possible but also meaningful. God is not mere energy or blind force, nor is He the sum total of everything (pantheism). Rather God is a person who speaks, hears, sends, and blesses among other activities. Because God is a per-son, man can trust Him, know Him, love Him, worship Him, and serve Him. The fact that God is a person is clearly revealed in the Scriptures.
The Multitude of Biblical Inferences
Throughout the Bible names and personal pronouns are ascribed to God. These names and personal pronouns undeniably prove that He is a per-son. In addition to this, He is everywhere pictured as possessing the three essentials of personality--intellect, emotion, and will. The Bible clearly asserts that God knows (Ps. 139:1-6), God feels (Nahum 1:2-3; John 3:16), and God wills (1 Thess. 4:3; 5:18).
Explicit Biblical Statement (Exod. 3:13-14)
Moses had been commissioned to declare to enslaved Israel that the God of their fathers had sent him to deliver them from bondage. Moses said to God, "Behold ... they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" God's answer was, "I AM THAT I AM.... Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."
This name is most significant. The main idea is that of self-existence and personality. The words signify the eternal God, "which art, and wast, and art to come" (Rev. 11:17). This likely is the origin of the Hebrew personal name for God, Jehovah. This name occurs in the Old Testament over six thousand times. Each occurrence is a testimony to the personality of God.