Imatges de pÓgina

istent in the universe reflects this truth of "the living God."

2. UNITY-in the absolute sense of being indivisibly One and alone. God is not one of a class of beings. There is no class. There is but One being possessing the attributes of Godhead. He is an indivisible unit, and there can be no duplicate. In this light and with this claim God has revealed Himself in the Christian revelation, from the beginning to its close (Deut. iv. 35, 39; vi. 4; Isa. xliv. 6, 8; xlv. 6; John v. 44; xvii. 3-5; Mark xii. 29; Rom. iii. 29-30; 1 Cor. viii. 4; Eph. iv. 6). The affirmations are unequivocal, and there are no opposing statements or implications. The frequent allegations that the Jewish faith made Jehovah but a national God, only greater than the gods of other nations, is unfair to the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures, which distinctly repudiate divine reality for the objects of idolatrous worship. There is no Scripture allowance or toleration of polytheistic notions.

An appeal to reason and nature fully sustains this teaching. The necessities of ontological and cosmological thought make the first cause One-the "first" being the unit of energy back to which the entire multiplicity of cosmic causation is traced, and in which it is satisfied. If the first cause stands for God at all, i. e., for the Being who has the full attributes of Creator of the universe, it is manifestly irrational to think of a duplicate or a plural of Cause. And this is further sustained by the scientific fact of the harmonic unity of the cosmos, its order, adjustment, purposive adaptation, and a rhythmic movement, that show it to be a unitary plan, an actualized thought, from atoms to worlds, from worlds to systems, all circling and advancing in the beauty and

music of the spheres. The unity of the creation testifies to the unity of the Creator.

3. SELF-EXISTENCE. This is suggested in the name under which God early revealed Himself, Jehovah (ning from 177, to be or exist, Ex. iii. 14; vi. 3), signifying the One who in the supreme sense exists and manifests existence, the One whose existence is in Himself. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, 'I AM hath sent me to you. ... This is my name forever, this my memorial to all generations.” The statement of Jesus, “He hath life in Himself” (John v. 26), asserts the same truth. The meaning of it is that the being of God is not originated, is due to no cause back of itself, is not conditioned on any other being, is without beginning, absolute and independent in selfhood as deity. It is the nature of God to be. His existence is grounded, not in His volitions, but in His nature. The frequent use of the terms “the Absolute” and “the Unconditioned ” as designations for God cannot, as we have seen, be rightly accepted as implying, as often claimed, that He is necessarily wholly “without relations” to other being ; for that would be inconsistent with His being the Creator of all things. For He necessarily relates Himself to what He creates. But it means only that He is absolutely free from all relation of dependence for His own being, which is the eternally existent Ground of all the finite universe. The Latin term aseitas, from a se, with its English, aseity, the coinage of the theologians, is of doubtful service. So, also, is the Latin designation causa sui, in which the word causa does not stand for a cause at all in the sense of productive energy, the phrase being simply a form of denial of any cause or origination of

God whatever, and an assertion of His absolutely primal existence.

This attribute, like those of life and unity, taught by revelation, stands accredited by the best intuitions of reason and warrant of logic. Ontologically the necessary thought of perfect Being requires self-existence, as needed to fulfill the idea. Cosmologically, as, from actual being now we are compelled to believe that there has always been real being, since the arising of existence from non-existence by no cause is unthinkable, the demand for a First Cause of the universe must mean an unoriginated, self-existent Cause.

4. PERSONALITY. That God is a personal Being is fundamental in the view given of Him in the Scriptures. He is not blind, unconscious energy or force. Everywhere He is represented under personal characteristicsconscious intelligence, purpose, and self-determination. In every disclosure of His power and activity He is seen acting in knowledge, plan, aim, and holy freedom. All pantheistic negations of personality, or resolutions of God into impersonal, unconscious energy, are utterly foreign to true Christian theology.

Personality, like life and unity, rests in the spiritessence of the Divine Being. For only a living spirit can be a self-conscious, intelligent, and free being. Human personality inheres in the human spirit, not in the physical organism. Those who deny rational spirit and freedom in man show little hesitation in denying personality in God.

The difficulties alleged against the truth of the personality of God, when carefully examined, are found to be based on the unwarranted assumption that personality is in contradiction to His infinitude and absoluteness. It

is contended that the ascription of personal attributes to Him is to define His being, and that all definition or specific determination is limitation. Such ascription is supposed to be inconsistent with the necessity of holding Him to be "the Absolute" and "the Infinite." The error is akin to the ancient and mediæval representation of the "absolute simplicity" of God, in which all distinction between essence and attribute, and between one attribute and another, disappeared, except as mere notions of human making. But the seeming contradiction is wholly due to an ambiguity inherent in the use of the abstract terms, "the Absolute " and "the Infinite," as designations of concrete being, and to false conclusions from imaginary implications. When we eliminate the elements not necessarily or rightly included, the conception of "Absolute" being does not necessarily mean a being void of all internal and external "relations," but simply One so subsisting in selfhood as to be independent of all other being for His own existence and power. Thus, "the Absolute" excludes only such relations as are inconsistent with complete independence and self-sufficiency. Also, the designation "the Infinite," when, as required by both Biblical teaching and just metaphysics, it is held apart from pantheistic confusion, expresses not simply in negative, but positive way, the full perfection of the divine nature and attributes. God is "infinite" in all His perfections-is the Perfect Being.

These considerations open the way to a correct answer to the question whether personality is in contradiction of the divine absoluteness and infiniteness. It is evident, first, that personal being is of higher rank than impersonal existence. In the grade of the impersonal we have only things-an order of existence, whether inanimate

or physically animate, unquestionably inferior and teleologically subordinate. In truth, personality stands for the loftiest ascent in the constitution of being that we know of. We know of no rank of being above this. We can conceive of none. To see in this loftiest form of being of which we know or can conceive, the form real in our own existence, a finite reflection of the reality in God, is not to reduce or diminish the conception of the divine nature, but to give it the highest conceivable rank. It is evident, secondly, that the ascription of the predicates of personality to God is not in the direction of imposing limitations on His nature, but of recognizing the supreme fullness and completeness of His life. Indeed, the ascription adds, beyond the content of impersonal existence, all the attributes of which we may in the fullest sense affirm "absoluteness" of being and "infiniteness" of perfection. It thus becomes clear, thirdly, that personality, instead of being in derogation from the absoluteness and infinitude of God, is that which is essential to the true affirmation of them. God, to be thought truly, must be a pleroma—a fullness, in Himself, of self-existent, living, intelligent, self-determining, self-sufficing being and powers, or unlimited perfection of all attributes. He is this only by being the absolute and perfect Personality. It has been well written, "Instead of losing His absoluteness by possessing and exercising self-consciousness and self-determination without passing beyond Himself, it is just in this that God vindicates the reality of His absoluteness. He would not be the absolute One were he not the absolute Personality";' and "Though you might deny His infinity without prejudice to His personality, you cannot deny His personality without sacri

1 Rev. John McPherson, "Christian Dogmatics," p. 118.

« AnteriorContinua »