Thursday, 15 October 2009

God: a new definition?

I recently had the opportunity to read a publishing phenomenon called "God explained in a taxi ride". All you need to know about God in the time it would take for a short taxi ride and, believe it or not, a condensed version for those who want it quicker. What kind of God might we define in the time allotted to a taxi journey? The conclusion, for those who don't have the time for the taxi ride or to read the condensed version is 'whatever you see as the source of life, chance, evolution, creation, that is your definition of God. Whatever you see as being behind everything, that is God'. That's it. I saved you $10!

The Bible often surprises people by the strength of its condemnation of idolatry. If you were to put the big sins in descending order 'idolatry' would be the first. Does the Bible betray a lack of proportion in this? No, the reason that idolatry is so treacherous and so often condemned in the scripture is that idolatry is the attempt to 'redefine God'. You cannot think rightly of anything if you do not think rightly about God. If I take any other route inevitably it will become a question of 'my definition is as good as yours'. Who has the right to define God? The theologians? the man in the taxi? The believers? Surely my favourite preacher/writer can be trusted to define God? Actually he can't. Only God has the right to define God.

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:18. This 'only begotten son' is the one who said "I and My Father are one." John 10:30. If we want to know what God is like we must come to Jesus Christ. He is the only one qualified to 'define God'. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ does not only mean to agree with his moral teaching. Many, like Ghandi, have commended his teaching but refused to surrender to his person.

To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to allow him, and him alone, to define God for me. Not in words alone but also in deeds. I turn aside from every other definition of God and risk everything on this one. He has the exclusive monopoly in defining God; there can be no 'new definition'. Any other definition is idolatry and a defamation of God's character. Idolatry begins with the rejection of Jesus Christ as the definition of God. If I reject him, I reject the Father.

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