How Do I Find Out the Truth About God?
By Dr. Sam Wright
You could “Google” God. I just did. It produced 3,360,000,000 results. That means there is almost one post about God for every two people on the planet. Just wait until the other half of the earth’s population gets online and posts their opinions about God(s).
The first ten posts in order:
- Attributes of God - Josh McDowell
- God – Wikipedia
- Australian rock star Nick Cave was asked what God’s voice sounds like.
- Robert Jeffress: Democrats claiming to be Christian don’t worship the “True God.”
- God orders all followers to swallow cyanide capsules in preparation for voyage to Alpha Centauri – The Onion (satire)
- How to find God - everystudent.com
- Madonna – God Control (music video against gun violence)
- Drake – God’s Plan (music video about his making large donations to help people)
- There are two types of God. One is within the boundary of science. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist (video)
- Who is the God of the Bible? – The Bible Project
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism pointed to the Bible as the primary source for understanding God (as do #s 1, 6, & 10 above). But the Bible is not easy to understand. He said we should use tradition, reason, and experience to interpret the Scripture. These four: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience have been called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which is the Methodist basis for doing theology.
Reason: We cannot just take the Bible literally and shut off our minds. We interpret the Bible using our minds. We study the Bible in its literary, theological, and historical contexts as we interpret it.
Tradition: We should also look at the tradition of the church. We aren’t the first to ask questions about the Trinity, evil, or salvation. We should pay attention to the great writers present and past who can help us understand who God is, such as, St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, C.S. Lewis, Richard Rohr, and many more.
Experience: Wesley also added that our own experience with God should help us interpret the Bible.
The Apostle Paul (who is credited with writing half the books of the New Testament) opposed the teaching that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, he worked with Jewish authorities to persecute Christians. In the Jewish Scriptures, there were lots of texts that made it clear to Paul that Jesus could not have been the Messiah. For example, the Torah says cursed is anyone who dies on a tree. Jesus was crucified on a wooden cross. The prophets also made it clear that the son of David would rule on David’s throne in Jerusalem. He would conquer those who would oppress the people of God. Instead, Jesus himself was crushed by the Romans.
So, the teaching of Paul’s Bible, as he understood it, was clearly against seeing Jesus as the Messiah. What changed?
On the road to Damascus to persecute Christians, Jesus appeared to Paul and confronted him about his mistreatment of Christians. That experience with the Lord transformed all of Paul’s biblical, traditional, and logical arguments against Jesus.
The Holy Spirit uses our experiences to help us see God more clearly. And as with Paul, the Spirit of God always moves us toward loving our neighbors.
My experiences have been moving me to see God more and more as a God of love and mercy. My experience with God has made me more compassionate and less judgmental of others and expanded my view of God as much larger than I could ever have imagined. I am still growing in my understanding of God. I hope you are, too.