This is how I find it, how I make sense of it. If it is useful to others I will be glad. This page contains the preface and the introduction to four main parts:
This 'Brief History of God' site is offered as an idea, which might stimulate you. It is still under construction, because it is part of an on-going creative process rather than being anywhere near complete. At the bottom of the various pages you can see the current update status of each page.
An example: Some treat the Old Testament as of lesser worth, treating is mainly as no more than a source of 'types' of Christ, a view found in only a few verses in a NT letter. But did not Jesus treat the OT as historical reality on which we can rely for important principles of the history of God? For example in Luke 4, Jesus points out that Elijah was sent to a gentile widow, and Elisha used to heal a gentile.
So I place them on the World Wide Web and try to write them without too much jargon. In the same file I have set out also the aims of the site.
Perhaps the most basic one is: What is this Supreme One like? We want, not a philosophical answer, but one in terms of how we might expect to experience or relate to him. (I use the pronouns 'him' because of world tradition.) Most of us reckon the God has power, but what does he do with this power? Does he hide himself from us, or show himself? Does he play with us, doing whatever he pleases while we suffer? Does he stand back from us, indifferent as we try to enjoy ourselves and get ourselves out of our own messes? Is he one who is protective of his position, wanting to maintain his status as superior to us? Is he primarily to be feared and obeyed? Or is God to be loved, sought and related to? "What is God like?" is our first problem; but from it come others.
Another problem we have is: How does what we see and experience around us relate to God? Is God part of it (as paganism suggests)? Is it part of him (as some eastern ideas suggest)? Or is he its creator? If so, has he just wound it up like a clock and let it run down, as Liebniz thought? Or does he get intimately involved with it, as Newton believed? And, if so, how? That's Question 2.
A third question is: How does God relate to the big issues we face? Justice? Truth? Good versus evil? Suffering? Joy? Knowledge and Wisdom? Love? Unity and Diversity? How does he relate to how these work out concretely today: Justice for the planet (climate change)? Justice for the less privileged? Truth of what we hear through the media? Wisdom in our business dealings? Global ecological disaster? Economic prosperity? Love in our families and relationships? What do we make of degrees of freedom we experience?
Likewise: How does God relate to the little issues we face every day? Is he too grand to care? Or, at the other extreme, is he so jealous of being obeyed that we have to get the tiniest detail just as he wishes it to be? Is he too weak or apathetic to care? Or does he delight to work alongside us? That's Question 4.
These lead us to Question 5: Does God have any role in determining what we should do? How we should act? How we should arrange our lives? What should we become?
Related to this: Does God have any role in helping us do what we should do? Does he just leave us to do it by ourselves? Does he just give prizes at the end of the race as an encouragement to keep going? Does he punish or reward each and every thing we do immediately it's done? Does he give us any help? Does he sort out the mess we make? In what ways?
Lastly, the seventh question: How can we know? If (pagan) God is part of what we experience around us, how can we find out what part is him? If (eastern) God is all around plus more, how can we find out what more there is? If God is Totally Other, there is an infinite gulf between him and us; how can we ever hope to look across it? Does experience help us answer this question? Tradition? Science? Reason? Intuition? Feeling? Revelation? My own view is that God is, in some ways, Totally Other, but that he has taken the initiative to reveal himself, and that revelation is primarily through what Christians call The Bible.
Not just revelation: God is involved too. What Christians know as the Bible is a record of this involvement and revelation. I cannot prove it, just as I cannot prove otherwise. Rather, I examine it and find it does satisfy my questions in a way that few other writings, whether religious or not, do. It is down to earth, and yet spiritual. Christians call this Incarnation.
The challenge is: we interpret the Bible. How may we do so? Most people have treated the Bible either as fundamentalists do, a textbook of doctrines to believe and rules to live by, or as liberals do, a human creation to criticise and try to undermine, or as ritualists do, as a sacred entity that the comman man dare not be exposed to. Some people are finding another way to see the Bible - in a broad sweep, as a record of God's involvement and revelation to humankind, and a unique record at that.
I believe the Bible is unique among other texts because:
The Bible provides enough information for those who are willing to believe, those who are open minded, but it never provides enough for those who are not, nor can it convince us about God logically. As the philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd put it, the Bible is an everyday book, written in everyday language, for everyday people.
In this 'brief history of God' I have attempted to look at the broad sweep picture of the Bible. What is God's involvement? What does he reveal, about himself, about ourselves and about things around us? To be involved, the One who is beyond time, who created time, enters time; so what is his 'history' and how has it developed?
How did I go about interpreting the Bible? Is my method valid? What are its flaws and strengths? Elsewhere I have tried to elucidate the principles and methods that I have tried to follow in discerning for my own understanding what God has been saying and how it relates to us today.
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Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2009, but you may use this material for any purpose you like as long as
Written on the Amiga with Protext.
Created on the Amiga with Protext: 15 February 2000. Last updated: 16 February 2000. 23 July 2000 added (some) aims. 10 December 2000 new comments pointer. 7 February 2001 email; corrected a couple of wrong links. 18 March 2001 better intro and re questions and Bible. 7 April 2001 moved motivation, aims and principles of interpretation to site.html; added link to bhg.app.html. 26 June 2001 link to 'applic'. 17 February 2002 principles and methods of interpretation added; link to. 2 August 2002 new title with 'Taking God Seriously'. 22 September 2002 Knuth quote. 3 November 2002 Motivations moved to start, and expanded; new motivation added re. all God said relevant. 22 January 2003 motivation re attitude. 3 February 2007 removed u-net; added Bible; then removed. 2 October 2008 why Bible unique, some errors corrected. 26 April 2009 reworded with different style and corrected a few errors; added a couple of things. 26 June 2011 contents. 11 December 2011 Bible provides enough for willing, everyday. 10 March 2014 OT as historical reality, bolds to pick out key points, which are reordered.