Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Battle for God: Confronting Neotheism

The people closest to me can testify to this: When I read a good book, everyone knows. I talk about it. I quote it. I carry it around. I read it in the car (when I am not driving, of course).

Before I tell you what the book is, I must tell you where I got it and why I wanted it. I bought it at a garage sale for 50 cents! Woo hoo, always proud of finds like that! Why am I so excited about it? Last year when I attended Summit Ministries I had the honor of meeting the author and hearing him lecture. He spoke on philosophy and the existence of God. He is an amazing man and has a fantastic mind! (Not to mention he has a classic sense of humor!)

His name is Norm Geisler. The book I am reading is called ­The Battle for God: Responding to the Challenge of Neotheism. And yes, the information in the book is as big as its title.

What is neotheism?
Neotheists state that God changes, is limited in knowledge and has the ability to learn. Neotheism says God can hurt and humans can make Him feel pain. They believe that God is temporal, made of parts, mutable, needs help, does not know the future, gives away His power, is not infinite in power and makes errors. They think the Bible has mistakes.

Basically, they believe in a powerless, unloving, weak, changeable and limited God. This, in reality, is no God at all.

Who is God?
That is the monumental question Geisler seeks to answer. It is a crucial subject to unravel since our view of God sets the foundation of life, whether one admits it or not. When people have a twisted, tainted, false or apathetic view of God it affects their decisions and perspective.

The book examines a few of God’s vital characteristics, such as: Omniscience, Impassibility, Eternality, Simplicity, Immutableness, Authority, Power and Infallibility. I know, I know, big words. Here is a breakdown of terms:

God knows all things, past, present and future.

God is impassible. Nothing can hurt or act upon Him. He acts out of His grace and mercy.

God is eternal (non-temporal).

God is simple, not composed of parts. He is absolutely and indivisibly one in essence.

God does not change. He is perfect and any change would be for the worse.

God sovereignly reigns over all things. Not one atom in the universe is outside His control. God allows us to participate in His plan of salvation, but He does not need us.

God is omnipotent: He can do anything that does not contradict His nature. He gives but does not give away His power. His power is infinite- without limit.

God cannot err in any respect.

Selected Quotes
~ God's Exhaustive Knowledge:
“He [God] knows everything immediately, not be acquired understanding.”
(Try to get your brain around that! Ask God any question and he without delay knows the answer. Actually, His knowledge is so infinite that he knew the question you were going to ask and the answer before you asked it… before you were born; wait… before He created the world!

~ God’s Certain Foreknowledge:
“Since God dwells in eternity, He has comprehensive insight into all past, present and future reality. To God, the past is as real as though it was happening in the present. The future is as certain as though it was the past.”

~ God’s Contingent Knowledge:
“Not only does God know with complete certainty all of the future, He also knows what would have happened had He degreed otherwise.”

What about me?
Personally, I love to think about God. I love trying to picture Him. I love attempting to figure out who He is. I know that it is an impossible task, which makes it all the more intriguing!

In my quest for becoming more like Jesus and in my battle with sin, I consider it mandatory that I ponder His supremacy. Even more staggering is the thought of His supremacy and His love united! To imagine an all-powerful and an all-loving God is stupefying! Where else can I find comfort in my weakness? Where else do I find hope? Where else do I find forgiveness when I do mess up? Why would I want a god that would offer me less?

God gave His own life for me, extending an offer of salvation and promise of heaven to me- for FREE! Although it is a free gift that I accepted, I am only asked in return to give my life to Him in service and love. I will do so gladly, for it is a small price for me to pay in comparison to what I receive.

So, Neotheists, believe what you may. When your dreams and hopes come crashing down, when you are overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty and when you are groping for answers, do not wonder why. The god you worship is of your own design and proclaimed by you to be weak. The true God of power, love and grace is always ready for you to return to Him.

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