Thinking Like A Christian - Defending Your Faith
Session 3: What Is God Like?
1) What Kind of God Exists? (or the nature or attributes of God)
(a) According to the Bible, there is much that can be known about God apart from God’s special revelation found in the Bible (Rom. 1:18 ).
(b) The arguments for the existence of God imply (indicate) much about God’s nature.
2) The Attributes of God:
A) God is powerful.
i) The Cosmological Argument not only proves that God exists, but also that He is powerful.
ii) “Only a God with incredible power could create and sustain the whole universe.” (p. 26)
B) God is intelligent.
i) The Teleological Argument shows not only that God exist and is powerful, but that He has great intelligence.
ii) The Teleological Argument from design reveals God’s great intelligence.
iii) The universe reveals a complexity beyond human understanding.
C) God Is Good
i) God is moral.
ii) The Moral Argument demonstrates that God is a moral being.
iii) “He is neither beyond morality (like some kings think they are) nor beneath morality (like a rock). He is by nature moral.” (p. 27)
iv) Therefore, God is good.
D) God Is Necessary
i) While the Ontological Argument does not prove the existence of God, it does demonstrate that if we believe God exists (demonstrated from the Cosmological argument) we must then view His existence as necessary.
ii) “Necessary existence means that He cannot not exist – so He had no beginning and no end.” (p. 27)
iii) If God’s existence is necessary then He cannot come to be in any other way.
iv) Therefore, God is unchanging or Immutable.
v) Note: This does not mean that God is impotent.
E) God Is Beyond Time
i) “Without change time is impossible, because time is just a way to measure change.” (p. 27)
ii) Since God is unchanging (Immutable) He is beyond time (Eternal).
F) God Is Infinite
i) “Since a necessary being cannot not be, He can have no limits. A limitation means ‘to not be’ in some sense, and that is impossible – so He is infinite.” (p. 27)
G) God Is Omnipresent
i) Since God is infinite he cannot be limited to categories such as space.
ii) An “unlimited being must be in all places at all times.” (pp. 27-28)
iii) Therefore, God is Omnipresent (everywhere present).
H) God Is Unique
i) By definition there can only be one Infinite Being.
ii) “If there were two unlimited beings, how could you tell them apart? They have no limits to define where one stops and the other begins – but neither one can ‘stop’ or ‘begin’ anyway. There can only be one infinite Being and no other.” (p. 28)
I) The Creation Denies Pantheism
i) Since the universe has a beginning it cannot be God since God is unchanging with no beginning or end.
ii) Also, since the universe cannot explain its own existence the universe cannot be God since God is the self-existing one.
iii) Therefore, Pantheism cannot be true.
J) God Is Yahweh
i) Only the true God, the God described in the Bible can say “I AM WHO I AM.”
ii) Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“
iii) The very nature of the God of the Bible is existence!
iv) Only a Being with necessary existence can refer to Himself as “I AM WHO I AM.”
v) All of the attributes that we would expect of the true God are attributed to the God of the Bible.
vi) Since there cannot be two beings with the attributes, then the God of the Bible must be the true God who created the universe.
K) God Is Eternal
i) Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
ii) Hebrews 1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
L) God Is Unchanging
i) Malachi 3:6 "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”
ii) Hebrews 6:18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
M) God Is Infinite
i) 1 Kings 8:27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
N) God Is Good
i) Psalms 86:5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
ii) Luke 18:19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good— except God alone.
O) God Is All-powerful
i) Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
ii) Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
3) Common Objections
A) If everything needs a cause, then what caused God?
i) Answer: The Cosmological Argument does not state that everything needs a cause. It only maintains that everything that has a beginning needs a cause. The God of the Bible has no beginning. “God is the uncaused cause of all finite things.” (p. 29)
B) If God created all things, then how did he create himself?
i) Answer: Christians have never argued that God is a self-caused Being. The question assumes that God was created and therefore had a beginning. The God of Christianity is the uncaused One who has no beginning and no end.
C) No statements about existence are necessary.
i) Answer: This question attempts to ontologically disprove God by claiming that it is impossible to speak of God in terms of necessary truths. “However, the statement itself appears to be a necessary statement about God saying that such statements can’t be made.” (p. 30)
D) Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
i) “Asked where God derived the moral law. He said that either it is beyond God and He is subject to it (and hence, not the ultimate good), or it is an arbitrary selection of codes that originated in God’s will.
ii) So either God is not ultimate or He is arbitrary; in either case He is not fit to be worshipped.” (p. 30)
E) The moral law is either beyond God or arbitrary.
i) Answer: The moral law is not arbitrary but is rooted in the holy nature of God. The moral law does not come from something beyond God, but from God’s nature.
F) Can God make a mountain so big that He can’t move it?
i) Answer: This is a nonsense statement pretending to be a question. “It asks, ‘Is there something that is more than infinite?’ It is logically impossible for anything to be more than infinite, because infinite has no end. The same applies to questions like, ‘Can God make a square circle? It is just like asking, ‘What is the smell of blue?’ It is a category mistake – colors don’t smell and circles can’t be square. These are logical impossibilities. They contradict themselves when we try to think about them. God’s omnipotence does not mean that He can do what is impossible, only that He has the power to do anything that is actually possible, even if it is impossible for us.” (pp. 30-31)
G) If God has no limits, then He must be both good and evil, existence and nonexistence, strong and weak.
i) Answer: When Christians say that God is unlimited they only mean that God is unlimited in His attributes. Evil, nonexistence, and weakness are not attributes of God!
H) If God is a necessary being, then the world is too.
i) Answer: This objection mistakenly assumes that a being with necessary existence must do everything that He does necessarily. While God’s nature and existence are necessary, His actions are done according to His free will.
I) If God is eternal, when did he create the universe?
i) Answer: This question assumes that there is a time before time. It incorrectly assumes that God is bound by time. If fails to understand that Christians maintain that God not only created the matter in the universe but also space and time.
J) If God knows everything, and His knowledge can’t be changed, then everything is predetermined and there is no free will.
i) Answer: This objection confuses knowing what will happen with causing what will happen. It is somewhat like arguing that since we have knowledge of a past decision that the individual was not freely exercising their will but was fatalistically determined to make their choice.
ii) This objection forgets that God is beyond time and speaks of God as if He were bound to the present.
K) God is nothing but a psychological crutch, a wish, a projection of what we hope is true.
i) Answer: This objection confuses wishes and hopes with nonexistence. Just because we wish or hope something does not automatically mean that what we wish or hope does not exist.
L) Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
i) Argued that belief in God was a psychological crutch that weak people needed in order to have courage to face life.
ii) He maintained that belief in the existence of God could be explained away psychologically.
4) Theological Judo
A) Debunking the debunkers and relativizing the relativizers.
i) Use their own arguments against their beliefs and positions.
B) Lets see how Atheism fares when the argument of wish fulfillment is applied to its rejection of God:
i) Atheism is a psychological crutch! The atheist is psychologically too weak to face life without the crutch of repressing God’s existence. The thought that he will one day have to give an account of his sinsand deeds before a holy God is terrifying to the atheist. He is psychologically unprepared to go on living with the prospect of having to spend eternity in hell. The atheist, therefore, repressed the existence of God as a psychological crutch in order to cope. Atheism is the result of “wish fulfillment.” The atheist wishes thatGod did not exist and therefore believes that there is no God. Atheism, therefore, can be totally explained away as a psychological phenomena.
ii) Note: This argument is
invalid because it confuses wishing for something with lack of existence.
Text: When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences, Norman Geisler & Ron Brooks
The Apologetics Study Bible, Holman CSB
Charts of Apologetics and Christian Evidences, H. Wayne House
Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Norman Geisler
Christian Theology, Millard J. Erickson
Philosophical Foundation for a Christian Worldview, J.P. Moreland & William Lane Craig
Love God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason In the Life of the Soul, J.P. Moreland
The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek
Unshakable Foundations, Norman Geisler
Who Made God?, Ravi Zacharias
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