Trying to determine the nature of God is something many who are much smarter than I am have been doing since our very existence. I don’t pretend to have any answers that they have not considered. But, I have been looking at a different understanding of God at least from a personal perspective. This new approach came from a comment on a previous post here on RLL. In that post I was lamenting how I have trouble reconciling the God of the Old Testament to Jesus Christ in the New. To me these two faces of God have always seemed to be in stark contract to each other.
The comment I received on this post was to the effect that maybe differences between the Old and New Testament Gods is the difference in men and not in God? I have been living in the “literal and inerrant bible” world for so long that I never really considered this a possibility.
- Could it be that the Old Testament writers just didn’t understand the true nature of what God was telling them?
- Could many of the words that they recorded have contained some well-intentioned words of man and were not words from God?
- Many of today’s evangelist, mostly of the TV variety it seems, say they have direct contact with God but then they say things that are contrary to God’s nature. Could this be the case with some of the Old Testament writers as well?
I cling to the idea that God is God and therefore infinitely more wise than any of his creations could possibly be. When we see differences in our written text of God those difference just might have occurred due to man’s inability to understand God and his messages to us. Are we are making God into our image of what we want him to be by believing everything the biblical writers thought (or maybe wanted) him to be?
To my “literal and inerrant” friend this idea goes against everything he believes God to be. As he often says that if the Bible contains even one error then the whole thing must the thrown out as we therefore cannot believe anything in it. This type of logic, which primarily has come in to prominence in the last century or so, has put a tight straight jacket on their versions of Christianity. To say that if somethings is not 100% pure then it is worthless certainly prevents them from gaining new insights of God.
So, here I am contemplating the idea that the God of the Old Testament is very much the same God as Jesus Christ portrayed Him in the New Testament. The only difference is that in the beginning man’s understanding of God was very hazy at best but has evolved over time. Do I cling to this concept the same way my “literal and inerrant” friend clings to the total purity of absolutely ALL Biblical words? Certainly not! I only think of this as another possibility. As God permits me to understand him more thoroughly this concept may end up in the trash alongside the totally inerrant and literal Bible. The Bible is absolutely the greatest document ever written by man but the total understanding of God is just too big for even those pages. As man evolves, God continues to give us increasing understanding into his true nature.
So it turns out that this intended study of the nature of God is actually a continuation of the study of man. God is unchanging; our study and understanding of him is not.