Has God Been Held Hostage by Philosophy?
Note: This article originally appeared in the January 9, 1995 issue of Christianity Today.
The September 1994 issue of Colors, Benetton's oblique, oh-so-hip promotional magazine, began with brief answers to the question, Who is God? The respondents were of all ages and races from around the world; their answers ranged from the whimsical to the blasphemous. "My dad," a six-year-old girl from Ecuador answered. A car washer in Pakistan said that God "designs the lines of a Mercedes." God was variously defined as the wind, a waterfall, a circle, a couch potato. "I believe in science," answered a businessman in Beirut. A journalist in Bombay said, "I am God."
As Christians, we may respond to such answers with a mixture of sadness, anger, and uneasy laughter. Who is God? We know the right answers, the creedal affirmations; and yet that elemental, fundamental question is profoundly unsettling.
In the original preface to Knowing God, written in 1973, J.I. Packer suggested that "ignorance of God—ignorance of both his ways and of the practice of communion with him—lies at the root of much of the church's weakness today." With this issue, Christianity Today begins an occasional series exploring the nature of God. Our first installment considers a book that argues for a significant change in evangelicals' understanding of God's nature—a change, the authors contend, that will take us closer to the biblical conception of God. We have asked four theologically insightful scholars to assess this claim. Future installments will consider the nature of God from other perspectives.