Thursday, October 6, 2011

How do you define God?

A little boy was found by his mother with pencil and paper, making a sketch. When asked what he was doing, he answered promptly, and with considerable pride: "I am drawing a picture of God."

"But, grasped the shocked mother, "you cannot do that. No one has seen God. No one knows how God looks."

"Well," the little boy replied confidently, "when I get through, they will."

The topic of God seems so simple, and yet it may be one of the hardest to talk about. Volumes could be said. Theological explanations can get us bogged down. We can talk about concepts that don’t connect with our real lives. If someone asked you to describe God, where would you begin?

The kind of struggle we face in describing God was illustrated among the Presbyterians when they were debating how to define God in their Westminster Confession of Faith. The debate was intense and so frustrating, they could not agree. Finally someone suggested that they pray, and a man prayed beginning with his address to God:

"There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty."

He we on to make his request for God’s help. After his prayer, he sat down, and they said, "What did he just say? Let’s write that down! That’s our confession of faith about God!" They later added supporting Scripture. They had their definition of God and is included in their Westminister Confession of Faith (1646).

A shorter definition is found in the Nicene Creed written centuries before, "We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible." ~ Nicene Creed (325 A.D.)

Where would you begin to define God?

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