Monday, April 3, 2017

God's Invisibility

Theologically, the Biblical revelation that “God is a Spirit” (KJV) is an extremely deep concept. Likewise, the subject of God’s invisibility is exceedingly profound. We cannot see a spirit. Our Christian faith is anchored to belief in the reality of a God who cannot be seen. Humans are accustomed to visual imagery to reinforce reality. If our everyday proposals do not have the advantage of a visual connection, or at least an auditory connection, beliefs in our accounts of reality are often diminished.

As parents or grandparents, we desire that our children grow up to believe in the reality of God. Our own adult belief in the God of Judeo-Christian scripture needs affirmation. Faith, defined as a “life-encompassing belief system” based on “complete confidence and trust” needs links to reality. Even more, we must determine how to present God as a real, living entity to whom we owe our thanks, worship, and allegiance. We understand that conveying the concept of a real God to our children is primary.

How may we explain to children that God is a spirit? Beyond the description of God as a spirit, Scripture instructs us how we should worship Him. The NIV translation presents the most familiar instruction for both the essence of God and how we should worship Him: “For God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Ken Taylor’s The Living Bible paraphrase goes beyond, saying, “For God is spirit, and we must have his help to worship as we should.” Eugene Peterson goes even further: “God is sheer being itself - Spirit. Those who worship him must do so out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

The remainder of our discussion is mostly beyond the scope of children’s  comprehension, but not beyond the reach of adult contemplation. Perhaps as we gain insight into the significance of God as a spirit, we will be better able to answer questions from our children. They sometimes surprise us with insight beyond their years.

The linkage of two terms seems appropriate. Recently we submitted several posts on “consciousness.” We stated that many secular experts feel that the subject of consciousness is beyond the reach of science to explain—a startling admission from scientists who search for naturalistic explanations for virtually every phenomenon. Another term secular scientists are loathe to explain is the existence of “spirit” as used to explain the essence of God as a non-material entity. We link our recent post on the subject of consciousness: 

In the above post we used the term “entity” to aid us in understanding God as the “ultimate supernatural entity of consciousness.” This is not a term used in Scripture, but in terms of our current understanding of consciousness and spirit, we may connect the terms. In human terms, consciousness means “self awareness of one’s existence, one’s thoughts, one’s surroundings.” In supernatural terms, the “consciousness” of God, the Creator of all things, is exponentially and infinitely greater than the consciousness of humans. In describing God as a spirit, we must use adjectives beginning with the prefix “omni:” God is omnipotent—all powerful, omniscient—all knowing, and omnipresent—all-present, or present everywhere.

Some secular scientists consider consciousness a “fundamental building block of nature” in the same league as space, time, matter, and energy. If we describe God as an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent spirit, we might reverently refer to God as a “fundamental building block of the entire universe.” We have been taught the theological truth that humanity is created in the image of God. Author Kenneth Samples refers to the “enigma of humanity” as a direct result of our possession of the image of God with which we were created. Samples also writes that the image of God in humans results in “rational capacities, moral volition, relational distinctiveness, unique spiritual qualities, and dominion over nature.”

Returning to discussion of the responsibility of teaching our children about the reality of God: We discuss the topic of God, praying before mealtimes, bedtimes, and various other times to the invisible God—the ultimate spirit Being and the Creator of everything. Parents must decide concerning the child’s readiness to discuss such important issues. We trust that Christian parents will devote time preparing for these important adult/child discussions. They must study issues for themselves as a precursor to launching ongoing discussion topics with their children.

In our recent post on “Youth Science/Faith Apologetics” (3-13-2017) we wondered what the ancient Israelite parents talked about with their children if they followed Moses’ advice to “…impress them (the commandments) on your children” when they were sitting at home, walking along the road, lying down, and getting up (Deuteronomy 6 and 11). Moses had heard God’s voice on Mt. Sinai even if he did not actually see Him. The events on the mountain had a monumental impact on the Israelite leader. We speculated in our recent post that lessons from the created natural world may have intensified the Israelites’ desire to serve the Creator as well as following His commandments. 

In the 21st century parents who prepare for the discussion about the reality of the invisible God may have an advantage. In addition to our expanded knowledge of the natural world and its wonders of design and order, we have modern awareness of the “hard problem of consciousness” as a reality which far exceeds material reality. Today’s secular scientists such as David Chalmers calls non-material consciousness “the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe.” Chalmers touts an invisible reality of non-material consciousness. Scripture, however, describes the reality of God, the first person of the Trinity, as an invisible non-material spirit on a far higher plane of reality. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent—the ultimate, fundamental subject of John 4:24: “For God is spirit….”