Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Origin of the Idea of God

by Dr. Jason D. Crowder

"Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God," notes A. W. Tozer, "and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God."[1] The idea of God is the foremost and grandest concept that has preoccupied the thoughts of men for centuries. Every nation and all people possess some notion of God.[2] The reason why humanity places such emphasis on the word God is because man is out of necessity a religious being as created by God.[3]

Within philosophical discourse, the topic of God is popular—particularly in the area of philosophy of religion, which examines the central themes and concepts found within religious traditions. One of the primary areas of study in this field is the existence and nature of God. Arguing for God's existence, the ontological argument states that even if there is only a concept of something, it exists. This argument is often criticized as a bare assertion fallacy because the conclusion relies on the premise, and the premise relies on the conclusion.[4] The ontological argument, however, brings to the forefront a vital question: Where does the concept of God originate?

Is the idea of God an outgrowth of mundane social or psychological processes? Is God a reality? Is the idea of God an emotional crutch? Did God create man, or did man create God? Or is the belief in God properly basic?[5] In other words, is the notion of God innate knowledge within human beings?

The question of whether and to what extent God can be known has been vigorously debated in both philosophy and theology. There are many theories regarding the existence of God throughout history. While this does not prove God's existence, it does indicate that there is an intrinsic proclivity within the human mind for thinking about God.[6] In philosophy, some arrive at an agnostic position, while others reach atheistic conclusions.[7] At times the objection is nothing more than the assertion that man cannot comprehend God, which is true. Man cannot fully realize God with "all-comprehensive knowledge."[8] It is incorrect, however, to believe that the incomprehensibility[9] of God means that man cannot have any knowledge of God. In theology, on the other hand, the possibility of man knowing God has seldom been doubted or denied. Theologians are more concerned with the extent to which God can be known[10] and how one can come to a true knowledge of God. Basing their beliefs on passages such as Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:18-23, theologians argue that every human has some knowledge of God.[11] Despite the limitations of this knowledge, it is genuine. The question is whether finite beings are willing to acquiesce to this knowledge.

The concern is how man comes to a true knowledge of God. Here epistemology intertwines with both philosophy of religion and theology. Philosophers desire to ascertain what knowledge is and how to attain it. This impetus is due to the assumption that investigating the origins of knowledge would reveal something about its nature.[12] Essentially theologians desire to know how individuals gain knowledge but from a biblical perspective rather than a philosophical one.[13]

Christian theology distinguishes between acquired knowledge of God and innate knowledge of God. In the case of acquired knowledge, it argues that all human knowledge of God is possible only because of God's self-revelation (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). If God had not chosen to reveal himself, individuals would know nothing about him. In this sense, all human knowledge of God can be considered acquired knowledge. It also affirms that reflection upon the self-revelation of God is needed in order to gain a fuller understanding of who God is. Christian theology also acknowledges that "belief in a personal God is both natural and normal; it arises in human consciousness spontaneously and universally."[14] It is in this sense that knowledge of God can be considered inborn. Despite the fact that theologians often allude to and discuss this universally known knowledge of God apart from special revelation as intrinsic, Christian theology stops short of calling it innate.

Guarding against two dangers, Christian theology avoids designating this knowledge as intrinsic. The first danger is rationalism, which is the reliance upon reason rather than experience, authority, or revelation as the primary basis of knowledge.

If human beings at birth came fully endowed with clear and distinct knowledge of God, being, or all ideas, they would be completely autonomous and self-sufficient, needing neither God, the world, nor revelation. The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking is idealism, which considers reality itself to be a creation of immanent human thought processes.[15]

The second danger is mysticism, which is the belief that direct knowledge of God is attainable through subjective experience such as prayer.

These potential dangers do not necessarily warrant Christian theology's hesitancy to call it innate knowledge, especially when there is biblical support for man's knowledge of God being twofold. A deeper understanding of the idea of God is acquired knowledge, which is derived from general and special revelation of God. The simplistic notion of God, however, is inborn knowledge.[16]

The Christian understanding of intrinsic knowledge is distinct from that of the philosophical thought. The two views differ on their presuppositions regarding the source of knowledge. Philosophical thought presumes that knowledge is ultimately found within the human being—whether inborn or through experience or reason. Christian theology affirms that the source of knowledge is God.[17]

The statement that man has an innate knowledge of God does not merely mean that he has an inborn capacity to know God. It indicates something more than that. At the same time it does not imply that man at birth brings a certain knowledge of God with him into the world. The innate knowledge of God is inborn in the sense that, under normal conditions, it develops spontaneously in man as soon as he comes in contact with God's revelation. It is a knowledge which man, as he is constituted, develops of necessity and not as the result of any choice on his part. Naturally, such knowledge is of a rather general nature.[18]

While the Bible contains no formal argument for the existence of God, it presumes that the reader has inherent knowledge of God's existence. The Bible opens with "in the beginning God. . . . let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:1, 26), which indicates that God gave humans instinctive knowledge of himself. Job 32:8 further supports this notion when it claims that the "breath of the Almighty" gives humanity understanding since it refers back to Genesis 1:26. Additional support is found in Ecclesiastes 3:11-22, where King Solomon proclaims that God set eternity in the heart of man (cf. Revelation 1:8, 11). The apostle Paul gives the fullest account concerning the knowledge of God being innate in Romans 1:18-32, even if it is suppressed. In this passage, Paul repeatedly states that humanity possesses knowledge of God (cf. Acts 14:16-17 and 17:24-28). Paul continues giving support for this belief in the next chapter (Romans 2:14-15).[19]

Church history affirms the biblical teaching that humanity has intrinsic knowledge of God. Tertullian expresses that certain knowledge of God is a primordial endowment of man's soul.[20] John of Damascus says "the knowledge of God's existence has been implanted by Him in all by nature."[21] Anselm of Canterbury argues that God's nonexistence is unthinkable.[22] Aquinas concurs that man has some natural knowledge of God.[23] And John Calvin supports the view that the idea of God is implanted in the minds of men.[24] William G. T. Shedd[25] and others after him, such as Louis Berkhof, maintain that humans have intrinsic knowledge of God.

Scripture clearly teaches that the knowledge of God is part of the compositional nature of man—it is inherent. And church history affirms this biblical truth. While it has not and likely cannot be proved, it is possible that the reason the idea of God is innate knowledge is due to the fact that human beings are created in the image of God.

Jason D. Crowder holds a Doctor of Theological Studies in Philosophical Theology and Apologetics from Columbia Evangelical Seminary. He begins a research PhD in philosophy with the University of the Free State in South Africa. He also has a research proposal accepted to pursue another research PhD in dogmatics at a different institution in South Africa. He is an adjunct professor for Columbia Evangelical Seminary and an adjunct instructor of religion with Butler Community College.


1. A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York, NY: Walker and Company, 1996), 3.

2. James F. Anderson, Natural Theology: The Metaphysics of God (Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing, 1962), 3; Hiram Erastus Butler, "The Idea of God," Seven Creative Principles (Applegate, CA: The Esoteric Fraternity, 1913), 1-3; and Paul Carus, The Idea of God (Chicago, IL: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1896), 4.

3. Butler, "The Idea of God," 3.

4. Graham Oppy, "Ontological Arguments," last modified 2007, accessed June 6, 2010, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/. For an illustration of this, see Søren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments, trans. Walter Lowrie (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1936), 31: "If God does not exist it would of course be impossible to prove it, and if he does exist it would be folly to attempt it. For at the very outset, in beginning my proof, I have presupposed it. . . ."

5. John V. Apczynski, "Belief in God, Properly Basicality, and Rationality," Journal of American Academy of Religion 60, no. 2 (1992): 301-312; Stewart C. Goetz, "Belief in God Is Not Properly Basic," Religious Studies 19, no. 4 (1983): 475-484; Gregory Paul, "Why Belief in God is Not Innate," The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2010; Alvin Plantinga, "Is Belief in God Properly Basic?" Noûs 15, no. 1 (Spring 1981): 41-51; and Michael Shermer, "Why Belief in God is Innate," The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2010. For clarity, the phrase properly basic refers to a concept that is a self-evident axiom or incorrigible. In other words, the belief does not require justification to support its claim. This phrase is commonly used in discussions within Reformed Epistemology. René Descartes' statement "I think; therefore, I am" is an example of a properly basic argument or belief.

6. Anderson, Natural Theology, 3.

7. Here are three of the works written in the past decade which question and deny the possibility of knowing God: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2006); Michael Martin, The Impossibility of God (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003); and Michael Martin, The Improbability of God (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2006).

8. Louis Berkhof, Manual of Christian Doctrine (1933; repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1993), 53; and Louis Berkhof, Summary of Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1938), 27.

9. For further discussion on the ineffability and incomprehensibility of God, see Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 27-52; James Petigru Boyce, Abstract to Systematic Theology (Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society, 1887), 8-12; Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2003), 245-251; and Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1974), 159-193.

10. The extent to which God can be known deals with the incomprehensibility and ineffability of God.

11. For more on the universal knowledge of God, see Boyce, Abstract to Systematic Theology, 12-15; Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (1871; repr., Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1997), 195-197; and Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1967), 151-155.

12. Two historically important debates arise from the problems that are found within this discussion. One of them concerns the question of whether knowledge is innate or acquired through experience. The second concerns itself with the ultimate source of human knowledge, reason or experience. Even though these debates are of importance to epistemology, the scope of this post does not warrant elaborate discussion. For further discussions on these issues, see René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy with Selections from the Objections and Replies, trans. Michael Moriarty (1641; repr., New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008); Carl F. H. Henry, "The Ways of Knowing" in God, Revelation and Authority: Volume 1: God Who Speaks and Shows, Preliminary Considerations (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999), 70-95; David Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature (1739; repr., New York, NY: Barnes and Nobles Classics, 2005); and David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1772; repr., New York, NY: Barnes and Nobles Classics, 2004).

13. For more the relationship between philosophy and theology, see Diogenes Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1985); Colin Brown, Philosophy and the Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Main Thinkers and Schools of Thought from the Middle Ages to the Present Day (London, England: Tyndale Press, 1969); J. V. Casserley, The Christian in Philosophy (London, England: Faber and Faber, 1949); and Avery Dulles, "Can Philosophy Be Christian?" in First Things 102 (April 2002): 24-29.

14. Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 53.

15. Ibid., 54.

16. Berkhof, Manual, 53; and Berkhof, Summary, 27.

17. Van Til, Introduction, 31-42 and 194-199.

18. Berkhof, Manual, 53. For more on this understanding of innate knowledge, see Boyce, Abstract, 15-20; "Innate Knowledge," Embraced by Truth, last modified 2011, accessed April 10, 2011, http://www.embracedbytruth.com/Man/Crown%20of%20Creation/Innate%20Knowledge.htm; A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (1860; repr., Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1999), 30-32; and Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 191-194.

19. For additional information on Paul's treatment on how the knowledge of God is innate, see Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (London, England: The Religious Tract Society, 1838), 21-36 and 46-48; and Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998), 85-87.

20. Tertullian, The Five Books Against Marcion, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids, MI: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 278.

21. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd ser., vol. 9, eds. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids, MI: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 1.

22. Anselm, Proslogion, A Scholastic Miscellany: Anselm to Ockham, ed. and trans. Eugene R. Fairweather (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1982), 74-75.

23. Thomas Aquinas, "The Existence of God," Summa Theologica, vol. 1 (Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 1948), 12. It should also be noted that Aquinas at times argues for the notion that man is born as a tabula rasa. According to this perspective, man's mind is a blank slate at birth. As man matures his mind is filled with data from experiences of life and information gathered via sensory perception. This view has its roots in Aristotle.

24. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 1 (1559; repr., Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 43ff.

25. William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3rd ed., ed. Alan W. Gomes (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), 186.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Finding Space for the Bible in "Generous Spaciousness"

By Janie Bont

This month, I got a chance to attend an event sponsored by New Direction Ministries. The ministry helps people deal with different sexual issues, particularly same-sex attractions. I attended with the goal of becoming better informed of New Direction's ideas, and their reasons that our churches should accept those who engage in homosexual behaviour. I was very disappointed to discover that this meeting was not about discussing the various views regarding this issue. Rather, it appeared to me to be about promoting the view of New Direction in order to recruit "straight allies." We were basically told to suspend our perspective, listen deeply to the other perspective, and resist insisting that our beliefs are the only way to look at it.

What is Generous Spaciousness?

Generous Spaciousness is the name of a speaking tour by New Direction Ministries. New Direction was a ministry that was started to help people struggling with sexual identity issues, including people with same-sex attractions. It used to hold a traditional view of sexuality, that sex is only honourable between a husband and wife. The ministry no longer holds that view.Today, New Direction seeks "to equip church leaders and followers of Christ to navigate the reality of a pluralistic cultural context in the interaction between faith and matters of same-sex sexuality." The concept of "generous spaciousness" is a "relational posture that acknowledges the reality of diverse perspectives on the question of faithful discipleship for same-sex oriented people. . . . Generous spaciousness seeks to build bridges, to find unity in our diversity, and to pursue peace," and is "unapologetically Christ-centered."[i]

New Direction Ministries believes that the promotion of generous spaciousness is needed because differences within the body of Christ on same-sex sexuality are discrediting its witness, alienating people from the church, and working against Christian unity.

Meetings to promote generous spaciousness are being held across Canada. A meeting was held in Calgary on November 10.

Wendy Gritter, the Executive Director of New Direction, gave a talk in which she said we should all come on board by having conversations with the LGBTQ community and hearing their story. In fact, she said that there are many interpretations of the Bible, and no one really has the truth on this issue, so we should just welcome these wonderful people to our Christian communities because they really love the Lord. In other words, she was claiming to have the truth and wanting us to agree with her interpretation by accepting pro-LGBTQ theology into our churches.

This tour also makes the point that they aren't trying to change anyone's mind. They simply want Christians to acknowledge that there are diverse interpretations of the biblical passages on homosexuality and therefore we can't take one side or the other. But this is disingenuous.

It's obvious from the presentation that their true goal is to get churches to embrace their theological perspective. That's why Gritter compared the debate over homosexuality to the debate about eating food sacrificed to idols. Just as at one time the "weaker" brothers believed it was wrong to eat food sacrificed to idols and no one believes that now, the "weaker" brothers and sisters today believe sex should only be between a husband and wife. It seems they only say that that they want both sides to be respected so they can get into Evangelical churches and seminaries that don't agree with their view.

So is there a correct interpretation of the biblical texts that give teaching on homosexual behaviour? I like what Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason says about this:

In order to interpret any biblical text, you have to understand its meaning. There's only one correct meaning to a passage. It's the one that author had in mind when he wrote. That meaning doesn't change over time or from person to person. As a result, there are right interpretations and there are wrong interpretations.[ii]

The following Bible verses make it clear what God has to say:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)[iii]

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Unfortunately, none of these passages or the four other biblical passages that explicitly talk about homosexuality were even dealt with that evening. When one of my colleagues attended the New Direction event the next day for pastors, he was told that these passages were explicitly excluded from the tour. According to Gritter, the purpose of the event was not to "debate" these Bible passages so they were not brought up during their entire tour across Canada.

In other words, there seemed to be no "generous space" for the Bible in a tour about generous spaciousness!

But given this clear teaching of God's Word, how do we love the LGBTQ community?

New Direction would have us believe that loving the LGBTQ community means accepting their homosexual behaviour, because they love the Lord and their interpretation of the Bible is just as valid as anyone else's. Is this true? Does God accept us despite sin in our lives simply because we say we love Him?

Ezekiel 33:7-9 says:

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, "You wicked person, you will surely die," and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

It is clear that we are to warn others about their sin. We are also told to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3: 15).

We need to stand firm in the truth. We need to speak the truth and be grounded in the truth. We cannot compromise the truth. New Direction Ministries has "exchanged the truth about God for a lie," and since they identify themselves as being Christian, we must point out their fault as Matthew 18:15-17 instructs us to do:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that "every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

It is also important that we become aware of their reasons for what they believe. Since there were no reasons given at this meeting, I have done some research as to what their interpretation might be. Matthew Vines, founder of The Reformation Project,[iv] has written extensively on this and I would recommend that we all become familiar with his arguments, talk about them and inform ourselves as to how to refute them.[v] Faith Beyond Belief will be hosting a seminar on how we can dialogue with compassion but without compromise on this issue in January.

The only way to truly love the LGBQT community is the same way to love any community, which is to speak the truth. We can't compromise the truth that those who continue to engage in any sexual behaviour outside of marriage between a man and woman will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Do we care enough to speak this truth? We have the Good News! Jesus died for those who will acknowledge Him as Lord, repent and turn away from their sin. God will walk with us through all the struggles we face!


[i] "New Direction Ministries—Nurturing Generous Spaciousness in the Church," New Direction Ministries, accessed November 20, 2014, http://www.newdirection.ca/about/generous-spaciousness/.

[ii] Alan Shlemon, "My Most Controversial Teaching," Stand to Reason, April 23, 2013, accessed November 20, 2014, http://www.str.org/articles/my-most-controversial-teaching; italics in the original.

[iii] All Scripture passages are taken from the New International Version (NIV).

[iv] The Reformation Project (www.reformationproject.org) is described as "a Bible-based, Christian non-profit organization that seeks to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity."

[v] See, for example, http://www.matthewvines.com/transcript/ or http://www.str.org/Search?q=homosexuality.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

If There Is a Good God, Why Do We Have Wars?

By Lawren Guldemond

Short days ago, we Canadians observed our annual Remembrance Day in honour of our country's fallen military personnel. We paused to remember those who served and died in the line of duty, defending our country and our country's allies. It was especially poignant this year, as we remembered Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, two soldiers recently slain at home by ISIL sympathizers. It struck a personal chord with me, as I once served in Cirillo's regiment, although many years earlier than he.

We honour our warriors as heroes in recognition of the magnitude of the dreadful dangers they faced for our sake. We laud the valour and bravery of all those who went forward in the face of grave perils. Many were sent to the grave by those perils. Those who run the gauntlet and survive are often emotionally scarred and psychologically troubled. War is a dreadful, miserable, and grisly ordeal to go through. It is a great scourge by which humanity has plagued itself throughout history.

Skeptics and unbelievers often point to all the suffering and evil in the world as evidence that it could not be created and governed by a good God. The innumerable brutalities of our endless wars offer ample ammunition for anyone seeking subject matter to support this argument. It is true that the repeated occurrences of war in this world must have some implications which bear on the nature and character of God. However, the implications are not what the skeptics imagine, chiefly because they cannot fathom or comprehend the plans and purposes of God regarding this world and those that dwell in it.

The occurrence and prevalence of war in human history also has implications that bear on the nature and character of humanity. When man's vicious behaviour toward man is held up as proof against the existence of God, attention is directed toward the wrong party. From the observation that people are sometimes brutally and lethally hostile to other people, the first thing we should deduce is that humanity has a catastrophic moral deficiency. Looked at from this angle, does this present a conundrum for Christian theology? Not at all. The Bible has an explanation for why we are the warmongering race that we are.

The Bible gives us the fundamental facts of the history of our existence. It tells us, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. . . . And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good."[i] The very first couple of people on earth, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God.[ii] In so doing, they revealed that they did not wholly believe and trust in the goodness of God. For if indeed God is good, and everything He says and does and is, is true, and you knew and believed this, then you would obediently do what He told you to do, wouldn't you? All of our sins—Adam's, Eve's, yours, and mine—are rooted in a malicious unbelief regarding the perfect, virtuous, benevolent, and steadfast character of God.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they initiated a war of rebellion against God, and all of their offspring have continued this rebellion ever since. In the prophecy of Isaiah, God delivers this indictment: "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me."[iii]Throughout the Bible, there are multitudes of passages in which God indicts various people and nations for being sinful, wicked, and ungodly. Lest there be any doubt, there are didactic summary passages, such as Romans 3:9-19, which pronounce all of humanity guilty of being sinners, and therefore under condemnation. In Romans 5, the Bible plainly labels us all (before redemption in Christ) as enemies of God.

This is our story, our history. This is who we are; it is our collective identity as mankind. We are creatures in a state of rebellion and war against our Creator, the Most High God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, fount of life and every good thing, most excellent and glorious, the Righteous judge of all the earth, the good and gracious King of Kings, who alone dwells in light unapproachable.[iv] We defy His commandments and despise His holy name, using it as a swear word. He sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us and bring us to Himself, and we mocked Him, beat Him, and crucified Him. That is what the Bible tells us about what kind of creatures we are. Is it any wonder, then, that we go to war against one another?

The reason that we have plagued ourselves throughout our history with wars and atrocities is that we are rebels against the good God who made us all. The old saying, "there is no honour among thieves," captures a profound truth that is very applicable here. Those who steal from others cannot be trusted to forbear from stealing among themselves. Likewise, those who are evil in their dealings toward God, who is good and worthy of all honour, reverence and obedience, will never be perfect and good in their dealings toward each other. As long as mankind continues to be at enmity with God, there will be no enduring peace among us.

The final chapters of the Bible present a prophetic picture of the end of the ages. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, and the residents will be those from every tribe and tongue and nation who were reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."[v] Neither shall there be any more war, once there is no more sinful rebellion against God.


[i] Genesis 1:31 ESV.

[ii] Genesis 3.

[iii] Isaiah 1:2 KJV. Knowledgeable readers might insist that this divine indictment was spoken specifically of the particular nation of Israel, not of all mankind. While the exegetical case for this might have good merits, I nonetheless think it is valid to consider it to have an additional and extensive application to all of humanity.

[iv] Daniel 5:21, Colossians 1:16, Jeremiah 17:13, Genesis 18:25, Revelation 19:16, I Timothy 6:16.

[v] Revelation 21:4 KJV.