Monday, February 2, 2009

The One Who IS

Here's a good description of our God--the One True God--as taken from the book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization, by Anthony Esolen:

It's fascinating to note what the God of Israel is not. He is not one god among many. He is not a god tied to a particular city or even culture (the prophets will see God, not Israel, as the ruler of all peoples). He is not a god of nature. He is not personified more than is necessary to make sense of his deeds to a half-barbarous people. We hear nothing of any amours or private life. He decides, but we never stumble upon him worrying, pondering, or reasoning with himself. His right arm is strong to save, but we never hear of his bending it, or cracking his knuckles. He does not move from place to place, like Hermes delivering messages from snowy Olympus. He forbids his people to carve any images of him, lest they confuse him with the power-broking kings around them, or with the beasts. The people are informed not that he looks like them (only with curly locks and a perfect torso), but that they resemble Him. He has made them in His image and likeness, and that cannot be a physically imaginable resemblance.

Who is this God? The revelation strikes like a thunderbolt. He is the God Who Is, beyond specification. He's not simply a maker, a muddler of slush and soil, who takes some always-existing stuff and molds it into trees and birds and people. He creates, because he wills it. Recall the scene in the Sinai, when Moses approaches the burning bush that is not consumed (Ex. 3). When God speaks to him from that bush, Moses asks him his name, something understandable, something to define or limit. The reply shatters expectations: "Tell them that I AM WHO I AM sent you." God does not say "I am the God of fire," or "I am the God of the mountaintop," or "I am the God of the sea." He says, "I am the God who essentially is." To put it in philosophical terms, as later Jewish and Christian thinkers would do, God is Being itself. The Jewish translators of the Septuagint (the Old Testament rendered into Greek in the second century BC) struggled with the name that transcends names. Ho on, they rendered it, The Being, the One whose nature it is to be, and in whom all things that exist have their being.

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