The personal God of the Bible
Nov 24, 2018
An atheist cannot prove that God does not exist, so he accepts it by faith. He looks at nature and sees a chaotic, violent place ruled not by a moral principle but by the law of tooth and claw. We look at nature and see precision and an extremely complex order that could not possibly have arrived one cell at a time through chance. We believe that the chaos and violence in nature was caused by Adam’s sin, rather than being an intrinsic part of nature.
According to Vishal Mandalwadi, Buddha denied the existence of a personal, rational God and was therefore left with mindless, mechanical “prayers” tied to wheels that rotated in the wind. But an impersonal god is the practical equivalent of having no god at all, at least not one who relates to us.
With no Creator God to know and understand, men always fill the spiritual vacuum with other gods, whether they be graven images or natural objects or revered men or even themselves. Whatever a man follows, values, and desires, can be a god.
According to A. E. Knoch, the word “god” in Hebrew literally means “a subjector,” one who subjects another or who has subjects obeying his dictates. El (“God”) is spelled with an aleph (“ox, strong”) and a lamed (“ox goad, authority”). The word picture is of someone having power over a strong ox or man. That is a god.
The Mechanical Path to Salvation
Mandalwadi informs us:
“Printing and books didn’t reform my continent because our religious philosophies undermined reason. By AD 823 Chinese monasteries had so many books that they invented rotating bookcases. By 836, at least one monastery at Suchow in eastern China had even made a brake to stop the rotation. In the middle of the twelfth century… a Buddhist monk named Yeh Meng-te (d. 1148) traveled through the temples and monasteries in eastern China and reported that ‘in six or seven out of ten temples, one can hear the sound of the wheels of the revolving cases turning day and night.’
“… The monks were meditating on the sound of endlessly rotating cases filled with sacred books. They were not interested in wisdom contained in those books. ‘They sought salvation by rotation of sacred writings,’ because they did not believe in words. Their goal was to reach silence through sound-without-sense (mantra)” (p. 78, 79).
He then explains how he was invited years ago into the “mechanical path to salvation” and was told to recite a mantra silently for twenty minutes twice a day. When he had advanced, he was to fast and recite the mantra for several hours at a time.
“I asked what my mantra meant. He told me not to bother with the meaning. The point was not to know truth, he said, but to empty my mind of all rational thought—to ‘transcend’ thinking. To think is to remain in ignorance, in bondage to rational thought. Meditation is a means of escaping thinking by focusing attention on a ‘sacred’ (meaningless) sound like om. Thinking must be stopped and the mind must be silenced because the root of existence is not logos, the rational word, but Avidhya, ignorance” (p. 79, 80).
Mandalwadi, who was raised Hindu prior to becoming a Christian, has this to say about Hinduism:
“The Hindu gurus who taught me were brilliant, but none of them had built a university in sacred places such as Rishikesh and Haridwar. Swami Dayananda of Haridwar explained the reason: ‘We use logic to destroy logic.’ Why? Because 'creation,' including rationality is a product of cosmic illusion—maya.
“My Indian professors were well aware that our philosophical tradition did not cultivate the intellect” (p. 80).
Any religion that views creation as an illusion dishonors its Creator. There are Christians who have been influenced by this idea as well. I have read their writings which claim that all matter is an illusion, while claiming to believe in the biblical God. If such people had written the book of Genesis, they would have started out by saying, “In the beginning God created the illusion of heaven and earth.”
Such beliefs do not honor God at all.
The Search for Logos
The Greeks, at least, separated spirit from matter and gave the good God credit for creation spirit (heavenly things). They also valued wisdom and truth, but their wisdom was based on the carnal, mortal soul. Hence, they developed the art of rhetoric, using logic to manipulate, rather than to set forth truth. Today, we call it “politics.”
The Greek search for wisdom failed to discover ultimate truth, and so they became increasingly skeptical. The Skeptics doubted that ultimate truth (knowledge) could be found, and they concluded that ultimate knowledge must be obtained independently of reason or logic. Paul understood their failure, for he too had lost all confidence in the soulish “wisdom of the world” (1 Corinthians 1:20).
A few of the Greeks turned to Christ, but most did not and remained in a state of despair. This caused many of them to turn to mysticism. Mandalwadi says,
“Professor Raoul Mortley examined the rise and fall of logos in ancient Greece. In his study From Word To Silence, he pointed out that the idea of logos, or the rational word, as the controlling feature of the universe originated in Greece with the pre-Socratic thinkers. It ended with the closing of the Athenian Academy in AD 529” (p. 81).
The problem was that Greek wisdom had sought logos through the soulish man, rather than through the inner spiritual man which alone can know the mind of God. Their failure was not because they sought logos, but because they tried to know God through a mortal (dead) vehicle that was incapable of such knowledge. Yet by not understanding a rational, personal God who communicates truth through one’s spirit, they turned toward different paths which were equally unsuccessful.
The main Greek error was in claiming that matter was created by an evil god, the “demiurge,” and for believing that all that the demiurge created was therefore inherently evil.
A religion’s view of the Creator and the created universe itself is the starting point that determines one’s entire course of life and the religious culture of entire nations. If matter is evil, or if rational thought (logos) is the source of evil, then truth itself is harmful and there is no point in trying to discover the mind (logos) of God.
Jesus, however, said that He would send us the Comforter, “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17), who was sent to “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Paul affirms this in his prayer for the church in Ephesians 3:18, 19, that they…
18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
True Christianity recognizes a good Creator, that He is rational (logos), and that He is love. Love demands a relationship, and hence, God is personal. Though He is beyond natural (soulish) man’s comprehension, He is not beyond the spiritual man’s ability to know and comprehend (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15, 16).
In fact, being in the image of God gives us purpose and value. Our purpose for being created is to “know Him,” as Paul says in Philippians 3:10. Knowledge itself is not evil, nor should it be stopped by silence and destroyed by emptiness. The problem is not knowledge; the problem is the carnal mind, the death-ridden soul, which asserts its authority and demands recognition as the essence of one’s being (self) and as the only entity that can attain ultimate knowledge.
Soulish and Spiritual Capabilities
The illusion of the Greeks was that the soul was paramount and that it was spiritual. They did not realize that they were deceived by the original sin, where the soul usurped the authority of the spirit. The original temptation induced the soul to step out from under the authority of the spirit by desiring an independent search for wisdom (Genesis 3:6). The fruit of that tree was sweet to the tongue but bitter in the stomach.
Christianity distinguishes between two identities, soul and spirit. We are born naturally with a soulish identity, but we are admonished to be begotten a second time—this time by the seed of the word of truth—and then switch our identity to this new creature in Christ.
This teaching is unique in the world of religious thought. All other religions attempt to reform the flesh or to cause the soul to “transcend” it by leaping into the great unknown and silent spiritual realm without a new vehicle as one’s true self. By training the soul, men have attained great power, but the power of the soul will never match the power of the spirit that has been united with the Holy Spirit of God. The soul, by meditation, can never escape the sentence of God for the sin of Adam, regardless of how long it may extend its life.
Christians recognize this, and this is why we know that we must change identities and move into a new house that is not under the sentence of death.
John, as a disciple of Jesus, understood logos in flesh form, having seen the transfiguration of Jesus on the Mount. So he says in John 1:14, “we saw His glory… full of grace and truth.” In other words, truth can be known by beholding Jesus Christ, the logos made flesh. John’s conclusion, then, was the opposite of what Buddha taught. Ultimate truth and reality was not found in a state of silence and emptiness but in the logos word of the Creator, revealed in human flesh on earth.
I close with a final quote from Vishal Mandalwadi:
“What saved rationality after the Greeks gave it up? It was the Bible’s teaching that eternal life was to know God and Jesus Christ” (p. 85).
This concept blossomed during the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers prayed for a revelation of the logos of God and studied the word by faith to learn ultimate truth. Out of this sprang principles of liberty, which in turn were used to uproot the darkness of papal slavery and monarchist principles of Rex Lex, “the king is law.” They replaced the old Justinian system of feudalism and canon law with new foundations for “The New World” in America.
History was turned on its head when men truly began to know God personally and His logos word. No longer was an indirect relationship with God adequate. The idea that men had to relate to God only through a priest or religious hierarchy had, in effect, enslaved men to a system that Paul calls “Hagar.” By studying the word, men came to realize that a personal God desired to have personal relationships with all of His children.
Belief in a personal God has far-reaching consequences. The world was changed when men began to understand this.