“God can be found in nature, in art, in science, and in self.”
The statement above would be readily accepted as truth throughout most of our world. What is the Christian response to this statement? Is it biblically accurate to say this?
But only if that statement is not used as an argument against the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. Let me explain why this is so.
1. Christians do not believe that nature is God or that art is God or that mankind is God. We believe that God is an eternally self-existent One who owes His being and existence to no one. He created everything that we see and upholds the universe by His own power, and is pleased to use creation as a glorious tapestry that points to Him.
2. We believe that God is a divine Person and that He is ultimate (and eternal) Truth. We also believe that there is a sinister bent in human nature that distrusts God and seeks to live independantly of Him. This dispostion to live apart from Him is called “sin”. Sin is a moral blindness that we have all inherited from our ancestors (who also inherited this dispostion from their ancestors). Sin uses “truth” for self-justifying and self-exalting purposes. (By the way, I’m sharing this not merely as an accusation of others but as a confession of the way I was and would still be, but for the intervention of God in Christ.) Perhaps the biggest deception within the theory of evolution as commonly taught in our secular institutions is the fatal assumption that there is no God and that all scientific discovery points to nature and to man. This is science tainted by the presence of sin. Science with the blinders of sin “off” spontaneously fuels the worship of the Creator. For this blindness to be lifted requires the work of God’s Spirit.
3. Sin’s blindness is primarily a moral condition and not an intellectual one. The bondage of sin is a moral bondage. People don’t need more information, they need a change of moral government within. A sinner’s own self-will is supreme and does not want to yield the throne. Sinner’s will amass any and every helpful intellectual argument to keep the throne of their life free of God’s sovereignty. I once heard a skeptic confess that, “If there were a God, as you Christians say, I would never serve Him for I don’t care for His rules.” That was a damning confession. In essence he was saying, “To hell with the truth if it means I must yield the ultimate government of my life to Another.” No one with such an attitude is truly objective.
Jesus actually directly addressed these realities on many occasions. Here are a couple of examples:
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. (John 3:19-21)
Note how Jesus equates light and truth, and how a person’s morality (choices and behavior) dictates his posture toward the light.
No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught of God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (John 6:44-45)
Note here the progressive and Christocentric nature of all revelation (truth). God must be involved in the truth quest, or we will miss the obvious. And if God is involved, and truth is actually discerned, the path will finally lead to Jesus Christ.
Let me restate the initial question:
How can we know if someone is actually encountering God in nature, art, science, or humanity? We can know it by its moral and revelational fruit. That is, the person who has encountered the living God (in any capacity and through whatever means) will be humbled and compelled to worship and will actually be drawn nearer to God’s self-disclosure in Christ. Revelation is a progressive dynamic.
In the next post I’ll pick up here with the interesting story of Cornelius, the Roman, who converted to Christ in the early church.