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Have you ever thought about using the knowledge of God to think more accurately?
Theologians sometimes speak of the simplicity of God. By this, they mean that God doesn’t have parts. He isn’t partly this and partly that. God isn’t mostly this with a bit of that tossed in. He is light. God is love, justice and truth. His attributes are identical with His Being. John says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5). James says that in God “there is no variation or shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).
How The Knowledge Of God Can Help Us Think More Clearly
There is also no conflict in God’s Being. There’s no potential for God to be surprised by something. He is not becoming something or evolving into anything new. God knows Himself perfectly. He knows His thoughts, His intentions, and His own plans. When He reveals Himself to men, He is necessarily clear, infallible, non-contradictory, and authoritative. His word is truth (John 17:17).
We aren’t like that. Our hearts and minds are divided, uncertain and full of shadows. Our eyes are “double” (Matt. 6:22-24). We chase around this idol and then that one. We try to serve two or three masters at the same time. The result is that our understanding of God and His world is often very confused and at odds with itself. When we try to articulate our worldview (as fallible humans) we speak with lack of clarity and often in contradictions. When we try to live out what we think is our worldview, we limp, stumble and grumble. We walk in circles. We even walk backwards at times. I know I do!
Without The Knowledge Of God, Our Thinking Is Muddled
“Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.”
—C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942)
As C. S. Lewis pointed out, modern man is used to living with “a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.” It would be easy to blame this on Romanticism or the later influence of Kant and Hegel, who effectively demolished any possibility of a unified field of knowledge built on human autonomy. Certainly, there is some truth in this. In fact, in the previous generation, postmodernism made a virtue of philosophical incoherence and “patch quilt” thinking. TV, the internet and the advertising industry emphasizing the purely visual with 3-second sound bites certainly haven’t helped.
But the truth is that most moderns and postmoderns, Christians and non-Christians alike, simply don’t work at thinking. Most of us have never learned to reason logically, concisely, and coherently. We’ve never been forced or encouraged to examine our own presuppositions, let alone wrestle with the worldviews of those who hold different or opposing ones. And then there’s sin, the rebellion against the very nature of reality. Sin includes the ethical disease of self-deception, that keeps us all from thinking God’s thoughts after Him in a deliberate and faithful manner.
My point is, whatever excuses we’d like to make with respect to not thinking God’s thoughts after him, God still expects us to begin our reasoning process from His word (Acts 17:2; 18:4). He calls us to knowledge and wisdom. And while there may be a shortcut here and there along the way, there’s simply no substitute for the hard work of studying scripture.
The Source Of Our Worldview Begins With The Knowledge Of God
Proverbs tells us that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (1:7). So any real search for understanding and truth must start here. But not just that, it must be rooted in piety, true faith and obedience (Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10). It’s only as we humble ourselves before the God, who is Himself “Truth” can we begin to know anything at all. And, central to this humility is submission to the whole word of God. We must diligently search and study Scripture so that through it … God can help us revise our presuppositions, correct our thinking, and teach us obedience. I guess that’s why the wise man writes:
My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commandments with you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yea, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom: out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:1-6).
The root of our biblical worldview, then, must be the knowledge of God Himself. If our knowledge of God is off, meaning it’s immature, “me-centered,” colored or twisted, then our worldview will be defective, damaged or even downright heretical.
The Knowledge Of God Reveals He’s More Than Just A God Of Love
“Second, sometimes we are aware of what our commitments are, sometimes not.”
—James Sire, The Universe Next Door(2004)
Here’s a practical warning drawn from a popular Christian school textbook. The topic is Islam. The author begins by recognizing that Islam and Christianity bear witness to very different Gods. Some evangelicals lack the understanding or courage to point something as simple as this out. But the author of this textbook then goes on to differentiate the God of the Bible from Allah by making this claim:
The God of the Bible loves everyone; Allah doesn’t love unbelievers. The same author cites four verses from three different Surahs to justify his claim about Allah and then cites only John 3:16 to justify his claim about God loving everybody. But “proof-texting” this way has its limitations and dangers. John 3:16 comes in a particular context: Jesus is telling Nicodemus that even as God loved Israel by giving them a means of temporal salvation in the wilderness, so He loved the world in giving His Son. In both cases, the backdrop of God’s saving love is His wrath against sin and sinners. Its pretty important to consider then, other verses from Scripture when formulating a premise about God’s nature.
Here Are Just A Few Examples:
The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity (Ps. 5:5).
The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth (Ps. 11:5).
God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies (Nahum 1:2).
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36).
Justice, holiness, anger, and wrath are also attributes of the God of Scripture. It is true that the author of the textbook doesn’t deny this. He simply doesn’t mention it, which is very misleading. And so we can easily be left with a Romanticized gospel starring a God who has been shaped into an idol of love. The author then compares this “love” over against the angry, hateful God of Islam. But these are half-truths.
Remember, the God of Scripture is the God who poured out His wrath on His only begotten Son in order to save those He calls to believe. If God is only love, then hell and the cross are pointless and we’ve completely lost the gospel of Jesus Christ. Fear of public opinion, being lazy and cherry-picking verses when it comes to the attributes of God leaves us a worldview that is completely at odds with the God of scripture. That’s precisely why we can’t ignore the passages we don’t like … just to paint a picture of a God we do like. It’s no different than pagan tribes making an idol out of wood or stone. God gets manufactured to fill our emotional needs. We simply have to listen to all that Scripture has to say about God.
Mastering The Knowledge Of God Means Asking For Help
As we grow in Christ, we sure shouldn’t think that mastering a Christian worldview is a simple thing. Augustine once described the gospel as “shallow enough for a child to play in, yet deep enough to drown an elephant. And so it is. Mastery requires faith, prayer, meditation, reading, note-taking, and listening to those who know more than we do. It requires work. It takes a long time—ultimately, a lifetime.
And so, by all means, let’s use the tools God has graciously provided us. Tools like books and commentaries that help us put together and sum up our own worldview … setting it over against opposing or conflicting worldviews. But let’s keep digging, searching, mining, reading, thinking, and asking God for greater wisdom and greater faith.