A God Big Enough
Are we going to choose the answer of God or gods? The difficulty with gods instead of God is that limited gods are not big enough. To have an adequate answer of a personal beginning, we need two things. We need a personal-infinite God (or an infinite-personal God), and we need a personal unity and diversity in God.
Let us consider the first choice—a personal-infinite God. Only a personal-infinite God is big enough. Plato understood that you have to have absolutes, or nothing has meaning. But the difficulty facing Plato was the fact that his gods were not big enough to meet the need. So although he knew the need, the need fell to the ground because his gods were not big enough to be the point of reference or place of residence for his absolutes, for his ideals. In Greek literature the Fates sometimes seem to be behind and controlling the gods, and sometimes the gods seem to be controlling the Fates. Why the confusion? Because everything fails in their thinking at this point—because their limited gods are not big enough. That is why we need a personal-infinite God. That is first.
Second, we need a personal unity and diversity in God—not just an abstract concept of unity and diversity, because we have seen we need a personal God. We need a personal unity and diversity. Without this we have no answer. Christianity has this in the Trinity.
What we are talking about is the philosophic necessity, in the area of Being and existence, of the fact that God is there. That is what it is all about: He is there.
There is no other sufficient philosophical answer than the one I have outlined. You can search through university philosophy, underground philosophy, filling station philosophy—it does not matter—there is no other sufficient philosophical answer to existence, to Being, than the one I have outlined. There is only one philosophy, one religion, that fills this need in all the world’s thought, whether the East, the West, the ancient, the modern, the new, the old. Only one fills the philosophical need of existence, of Being, and it is the Judeo-Christian God—not just an abstract concept, but rather that this God is really there. He exists. There is no other answer, and orthodox Christians ought to be ashamed of having been defensive for so long. It is not a time to be defensive. There is no other answer.
Let us notice that no word is as meaningless as is the word god. Of itself it means nothing. Like any other word, it is only a linguistic symbol—g-o-d—until content is put into it. This is especially so for the word god, because no other word has been used to convey such absolutely opposite meanings. The mere use of the word god proves nothing. You must put content into it. The word god as such is no answer to the philosophic problem of existence, but the Judeo-Christian content to the word God as given in the Old and New Testaments does meet the need of what exists—the existence of the universe in its complexity and of man as man. And what is that content? It relates to an infinite-personal God, who is personal unity and diversity on the high order of Trinity.
Every once in a while in my discussions someone asks how I can believe in the Trinity. My answer is always the same. I would still be an agnostic if there was no Trinity, because there would be no answers. Without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers.
Let us return again to the personal-infinite. On the side of God’s infinity, there is a complete chasm between God on one side and man, the animal, the flower, and the machine on the other. On the side of God’s infinity, He stands alone. He is the absolute other. He is, in His infinity, contrary to all else. He is differentiated from all else because only He is infinite. He is the Creator; all else was created. He is infinite; all else is finite. All else is brought forth by creation; so all else is dependent and only He is independent. This is absolute on the side of His infinity. Therefore, concerning God’s infinity, man is as separated from God as is the atom or any other machine-portion of the universe.
God is really there. He exists.
But on the side of God being personal, the chasm is between man and the animal, the plant, and the machine. Why? Because man was made in the image of God. This is not just “doctrine.” It is not dogma that needs just to be repeated as a proper doctrinal statement. This is really down in the warp and woof of the whole problem. Man is made in the image of God; therefore, on the side of the fact that God is a personal God the chasm stands not between God and man, but between man and all else. But on the side of God’s infinity, man is as separated from God as the atom or any other finite of the universe. So we have the answer to man’s being finite and yet personal.
It is not that this is the best answer to existence; it is the only answer. That is why we may hold our Christianity with intellectual integrity. The only answer for what exists is that He, the infinite-personal God, really is there.
This article is adapted from He Is There and He Is Not Silent by Francis A. Schaeffer.
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