In the Beginning

"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of Heaven and Earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." (Acts 17:24-25)

This is Paul speaking in Athens to the crowd. Standing on Mars' hill, he prefaces his declaration by telling them that he sees them as "too superstitious" (verse 22). And as Stevie Wonder put it so, so well, "superstition ain't the way."

Why God? Why the God of Judeo-Christianity? Funny thing, maybe Christians should begin referring to themselves as "Judeo-Christians"? Help round out the idea of where our faith came from. The "God" of deism seems to have faded into nothingness. Science, having pulled apart the mysteries of the universe (only to have their appetites whetted for more), renders an argument for a "Christian" nation (i.e. America) superfluous. I wonder though. Where did this idea of "God" come from? A God who's cited as "their Creator", having endowed us with "certain unalienable rights"? Point to the fact that Darwin hadn't been born yet to bless us with his Theory of Natural Selection and you can understand, maybe a little, how America's founding fathers might have in their thinking, the idea of a benevolent-if-distracted deity, responsible for, not only humanity, but also the ways and means of honest and fair government. And I'm talking about America because I'm an American. I see the influence of numerous religions where I live. Locally, we have both Buddhist shrines and temples and one mosque (to my knowledge). Various New Age and Masonic buildings dot the landscape as well. But as America is a melting pot as diverse as its population, one is hard-pressed to back up their assertions for a Christian nation with unassailable fact or tenable reasoning. I say all of that (as I had gotten into a bit of a side-eddy) to say that looking at the natural only or something as relatively young as America to prove the existence of "God" ends in falling short of its goal. And why would one even want to do that? Why are you reading this?

People are smart. There seems to be this construct in the mind that works flawlessly and instantly. Say, "God" and not only will the broad cultural opinion immediately crop up (colored, of course, by "God's" representatives' ambassadorial representation) but even more undergirding than that, their own opinions as to who god, or, God, is or is not. "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both." (Acts 23:8) And Jesus clashed with and ultimately silenced both.

"All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and He to whom the Son will reveal Him." (Luke 10:22)

I believe that when one believes that God is real they have no choice but to create him in their own image—that is, until He truly reveals Himself to them. "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." (Psalm 50:21, emphasis mine) It's the natural order of things. Psychologically, it's called projection. Everyone does it, myself included. We have a need, and we subconciously take that need and project it onto someone who we think will fill it. I wouldn't recommend it. And beyond a certain point—humanly speaking—it can really get you into trouble. All that aside though, what God seems to be saying through Asaph the psalmist here (because earlier on in the first few verses of that psalm, it was just Asaph speaking) is that God, Himself, is going to show you who He actually is.

There is some speculation as to the actual Indo-European root of the word 'god', so says my Indo-European dictionary. Two roots that sound similar—almost identical—vye for that title. But if you rewind back five-thousand years to the inception of the language you speak today (English being a branch of Germanic, along with many other languages as diverse as Old Norse and Yiddish) something as simple as a schwa (the neutral vowel sound, the upside-down 'e' in your dictionary) can make all the difference in the world. By the way, the shchwa is of Hebrew origin (shewa) and refers to a barely uttered phoneme (sound) where no vowels are present. It has to do with the underlying principle behind the tetragrammaton (YHWH) that, to this day, no one knows how to pronounce. The two Indo-European roots vying for 'god's' etymology are "gheu(ə)-". And "gheu-". The former ("gheu(ə)-") means "to invoke". As in that which we can do to bring about God's blessing and provision and presence. The latter ("gheu-") means "to pour out". Which is something that God is doing all the time. Notice in Paul's statement to the Athenians, who were still steeped in Pagan, pantheistic myth: "[God] giveth to all..." Approaching God on your own terms will never meet the qualifications for restored relationship. If you come bearing gifts but refuse to receive what He's already provided for you, i.e. Jesus, then we will end in being deceived and missing Him altogether. Because, as Paul also said to those in Athens, God doesn't need anything. "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof." (Psalm 50:12)

The only time God needs us, is when we are humble and thankful, much like little children. "Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." (Mark 10:15) Jesus isn't saying that we needed to accept Him when we were kids or else. He's simply saying that we need to lay down our preconceived (adult) notions as to how the world and the universe work and accept God on His terms.

The point at which all interaction with God hinges is belief. Belief is all that you can really give to God, in humility. Oh, He doesn't need it in the sense that, were He dependent on your belief for His existence and upon not receiving it would vaporize. But in order for you to see Him, you need to will to believe that He is who He says He is. The Bible is a good place to start. And when you come upon Jesus, who, it says, is "the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3), we see more fully, who we are with reference to God.

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." (John 6:63)

"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John 20:21-22)

Is it "gheu(ə)-"? Or gheu-"? Who knows. But it does sound like so much baby talk to me. And, well, out of the mouth of babes...

Things That Go Without Saying part 7 Justifying the Means

Shades of Ghrei