God Is Not A Man So Stop Judging Him!
Posted by Job on January 29, 2010
As I was driving around listening to the prominent evangelical Christian talk station in my market, a question was posed in a commercial advertising a ministry program on the radio: “Does Israel being God’s chosen people make God a racist?” The TRAINED PASTOR replied something to the effect of “If God was ONLY concerned with Israel then the answer would be yes, but since God is concerned with everyone, not just Israel, then the answer is no.” Three major problems with that statement. First, racism isn’t only defined as hating a race. It is also preferring one race over another. For instance, in times past the vast majority of segregationists, slave owners and what have you did not hate black people or Native Americans or wish ill upon those groups of people. Instead, many of them simply loved their own race more and wanted the other races to know their place. Second, Israel was God’s chosen people, true, but for a purpose: to serve God and to be used by Him in His plans for revelation and redemption (see Genesis 3:15 and John 4:22 to see why a Jewish woman was the chosen vessel for the incarnation of Jesus Christ). Misunderstanding this key point by viewing Israel’s chosen status apart from that context creates all sorts of problems, and if you read the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament narrative, this misunderstanding created a problematic mindset among many Jews that persists to this day.
But the main reason why the answer to this question was disturbing is given to us by what Numbers 23:19 makes it clear: God is not a man! God is holy and righteous. Hence God cannot sin. God is perfect in all His ways. And God is sovereign. One of the best sections of scripture that deals with this is the chapters which begin with Job 38. In those chapters, God chastises Job and punishes Job’s false accusers. Now what was the main problem with Job’s false accusers, who claimed that Job’s misfortune had to have been due to a sin on Job’s part? It was not that they were falsely judging Job in this matter. No, it was that they were falsely judging God! By claiming that Job’s misfortunes had to have been the result of sin, they were directly implying that God had no right to allow Job’s misfortunes otherwise! They were implying that for God to allow a righteous man to suffer such misfortune would be unjust, and that would make God unjust! Ultimately, Job’s friends had the same false position that Job did: that God’s treatment of Job was unjust. The only difference between them and Job was their lack of knowledge that Job was – inasmuch as it is in the capacity of man to be – blameless.
When view God in the manner that Job and his friends did, or for that matter the way that the commercial on the Christian radio station did, we are guilty of viewing God from a grotesquely false perspective. We are shrinking God to our level, as if to make Him a man like us. We view God as if He were a man so that we can judge Him, evaluate Him, figure Him out. That way, we can relate to God, serve God and understand Him according to our own knowledge, beliefs, values and experiences. A result of this is the rejection of the true God that we can only know through His self-disclosure to us in special and general revelation, and the creation of a God that pretty much thinks and acts like we do; a God fashioned after our own hearts and imaginations. And whenever we come to the limits of our own hearts and imaginations, well that is when the mystical mysteries become so appealing to us.
The problem is that we start with ourselves and then try to move to God, and we interpret everything from our own senses of truth, reality and ethics. That makes us the judge and lawgiver and puts God on trial. And whenever we convict God of being guilty, then we have to alter our image of God in order to preserve and justify our belief in God. The solution is not to start with ourselves and try to move to God, but to start with God and try to respond to Him. We are to try to respond to what we know of God and His truth that is revealed to us in scripture and by God’s Holy Spirit.
Realize that God is sovereign. Therefore, God is not subject to judgment. No one can truly pass sentence on God, and of course no one can enforce any sentence that is passed. Further, God is righteous. Because of this, there is no crime or sin committed by God to pass sentence on Him for in the first place. The challenge is to move from simply voicing this in our doctrinal statements without truly having it in our belief systems to actually believing it. Instead of putting God on trial when we read the Bible, we should use the Bible to put ourselves on trial to see if we measure up to God’s standards. And when we come to the obvious inevitable answer – we do not and we cannot – then we are to see ever more why we need God’s saving grace that is made available to us by Jesus Christ’s work on the cross.
One of the biggest areas where this is an issue: soteriology, especially as it relates to God’s love. We should simply accept God’s love as it is defined by the Bible and move on. (I admit, I am from the Cornelius Van Til presuppositionalist line of thought.) If we start with ourselves and try to get to God, then the obvious question is this: if God loves everybody and if God is all powerful, then why doesn’t God save everybody? Of course, a human-centered and modern view of love as a starting point ultimately leads to universalism. (At the very least, it precludes predestination.) It requires a view that starts with God as He is revealed in the Bible and then goes to man (primarily, of course, as God sees man and the purpose for which God created man) to realize that God’s capacity to love all is not in conflict with or in any way rendered moot by God’s exercise of His sovereign prerogative to save some.
Another issue: repentance. Going from man to God and judging God makes repentance not only unnecessary, but evil. This is the core assumption of liberal theologies, including but not limited to homosexual theology. If God is loving, righteous and FAIR according to our own eyes, shouldn’t He allow us to do as we please, so long as we are being good people who aren’t hurting anybody else? Now the person who tries to reach God from a human starting point truthfully cannot refute this logic, if for no other reason than constitutes “good person” and “not hurting anyone” completely in the eye of the God-judging beholder. It is so easy to use logic, philosophy, theology, (pseudo)science, whatever is at your disposal to create a false god – an idol – that will stand in the day of your own judgment because your idol thinks and acts just like you and is nothing more than a representation of yourself, your own personal deity created from your own thoughts and desires. It is no less than man worshiping his own image.
In fairness to the liberals, it must be acknowledged that this is not a new problem. One of the reasons why the allegorical interpretation of scripture was so prominent in some of the earlier times of Christianity was the constant negative judgments against God and the Bible. Or there were those who went the route of Marcion, who decided that the God of the Old Testament and the New Testament were different deities, and thus created a cult around the rejection of the “lesser god” of the Old Testament! Thus, a great many modern Christians are Marcionites of a smaller scale, with a conviction that God is “nicer” in the New Testament and in these times than the Old, which incidentally requires a real disconnect from the fact that the sternest eschatological and apocalyptic content is in the New Testament, which Jesus Christ Himself being the most prominent hell fire and brimstone preacher!
And surely the common trend of pushing aside the Jesus Christ who preached hard sayings, issued scathing rebukes and warnings of judgment (including to the church in Revelation 2 and 3), suffered and died for our sins and was resurrected, and is returning again as ruler and judge in favor of the nonthreatening baby in the manger, or as a “lover and friend” (listen to certain modern Christian songs) is a product of creating a god that we want to have – a god whose purpose is to cater to our whims and desires – instead of the God of the Bible who actually lives and rules forevermore.
So, it is incumbent upon us to stop putting God on trial, to stop reducing the perfect, holy, sovereign and all powerful God into the image of a fallible and sinful man that is merely God’s property and subject. We must cease trying to shape and conform God into one that suits our passing fancies. Instead, we must simply accept that God is who He says He is opposed to what we imagine or wish Him to be. (After all, God’s true nature will always exceed our capacity to wish or imagine. Because we are fallible and corrupt, our desires and imaginations will similarly be fallible and corrupt, and we will wind up wanting a fallible and corrupt God.) And if we have difficulty accepting God for who the Bible reveals Him to be, then we must come to grips with the truth that the problem is ours, not God’s or the Bible’s. And we must pray that God forgives us for our rebellious attempts to push the truth – His truth and indeed God Himself – away and that He changes our hearts and minds so that we will end our sinful rebellion. We must pray that God continues to conform us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ so that the picture that the Bible paints about God is not offensive to us, and that we will not indulge in the sin of creating another God to go after because of this offense. The more carnal we are, the more offensive spiritual truths will be to us. However, the more spiritual we are, the more receptive we will be to spiritual truth. God and His nature is spiritual truth, and it is only through God’s power that we can grasp and accept it. So let us pray that we will exchange our judging God into our thanking and worshiping God for His Mercy and Grace.