Doctrinal Musing On God: Part 1 of 3

From a Judeo-Christian perspective, the Christian community lives as part of the theo-drama of redemption that began with Act I: “Creation,” where God enacted his part of the drama through a series of speech acts in the creation of the universe, forming humans in his image and entering into covenant relationship with them. Act II: “God and Israel,” which enacts God’s relationship with Israel leading up to the pinnacle Act III: “The Life and Ministry of Jesus.” In Act III: Jesus performs his part of the drama of redemption through his redemptive life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. Act IV: “The Holy Spirit and the Church,” where the Holy Spirit continues Jesus’ ministry on earth by transforming, empowering and leading the Church in kingdom life and ministry until the “end of the age.” Act V: “Final Eschaton,” during this future act, Jesus will return to the earth and establish his eternal kingdom.[1]

This is the grand, ancient drama that governs the world. It is the drama that enacts the meeting of God and humans. By raising the curtain of the theo-drama, God has taken the initiative to unveil himself to humanity. Thus, it is through the drama of redemption that humans can know and experience God. John Frame writes,

[it] is that series of events by which God redeems his people from sin, a narrative fulfilled in Christ. It is the principal subject matter of Scripture. Redemptive history constitutes the mighty acts of God that he performs for the sake of his people, those acts by which people come to know that he is the Lord (Ex. 7:5; 14:18). When God brings Israel over the Red Sea on dry land, both Israel and the Egyptians come to know his lordship.[2]

Humans yearn and seek for the God of redemptive history, and they can find him by looking to the divine theatrical script (Bible) and ultimately through the redeemer—Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:1-3 states,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete (NIV).

God initiated the theo-drama by performing the open act of creation. God is “the creator and sustainer of all things visible and invisible”[3] (Gen 1, Ps 104, Isa 42: 5, Mt 6: 25-30, Acts 17: 26-28, Col 1: 16-17). God’s creation of the universe is an important aspect of the biblical presentation of God. As the opening act of the theo-drama, creation informs the rest of the drama. Through the creation narrative, people can understand the nature and will of God and the nature and status of humanity, which is crucial information for understanding God’s interplay with humanity[4] throughout the theo-drama.

Moreover, creation is the general revelation of God. The natural surroundings and the universe communicate God “to all persons at all times and in all places.”[5] As people use their senses and rationality, they can begin to consider their natural surroundings and the workings of the universe. While exploring the natural order of things, this may lead people to consider metaphysical “moreness.” In other words, they may reason that there is more than just the physical aspect of reality which may lead them to reason that there may be a metaphysical “isness” or a metaphysical ultimate reality or deity. General revelation should lead one to a basic theism.

God is not merely the creator, he is also the sustainer. This is an important point because it prevents a deistic perspective, which posits that God created the universe to function according to its own inner natural laws, but after he set things in motion, he abandoned the universe and has no continuing involvement with it. The deistic perspective contrasts with the action oriented God of the theo-drama. God acted by creating, but he continues to act sovereignly and providentially in the universe. Gerald Bray explains the orthodox position by writing,

We believe that God controls the universe according to a pattern which we call the law of nature, but we also maintain that he is sovereign over it and can overrule it if he wishes to. God’s purpose is to preserve his creation in being and so he is actively present and involved in everything that happens in and to it, not a remote deity who does not care about it one way or the other.[6]

God governs the universe according to his will and purposes[7] and all of his doings in creating and sustaining the universe reflect who he is.[8]

God made himself known to humans as the “one living and true God.”[9] Yahweh revealed to Israel that “He is God; there is no other besides Him” (Deut 4:35 NASB), and he taught them the language of שְׁמַע “shema” which the opening lines states,  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6:4 NASB). As Israel believed in the one God, they were to be devoted to him “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other” (1 Kgs 8:60 NASB).

Jesus and the writers of the New Testament affirm that there is one God (Mark 12:32; 1 Tim 2:5) and that even the demons believe. James writes, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19 NIV). God is not like the idols of the surrounding nations because he is a living and true God who draws living souls to himself (Ps. 42:2). He physically acts on behalf of his people (Josh 3:10, 1 Sam 17:26), the earth trembles because of him and “the nations cannot endure his wrath” (Jer 10:10 NIV). Furthermore, in the Gospel of Matthew, Peter declares to Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:16), and in the 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul explains that the church is “of the living God.” John writes, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God” (John 17:3 NIV). God is the one true source of light and life.[10] 


[1] Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), EPUB edition, pt. I, Introduction. [2] John Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2013), EPUB edition, pt. 4, ch. 24, Redemptive History. [3] “Triune God” in A Reforming Catholic Confession http://www.reformingcatholicconfession.com. [4] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013), 339. [5] Erickson, Christian, 122. [6] Gerald L. Bray, The Faith We Confess: An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles (London: Latimer Trust, 2009), EPUB edition, The Articles, “Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.” [7] “The Purpose of God,” in The Lausanne Covenant https://www.lausanne.org/content/covenant/lausanne-covenant. [8] “Triune God” in A Reforming Catholic Confession. [9] Articles of Religion, “Of the Faith in the Holy Trinity.” http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html.[10] “Triune God” in A Reforming Catholic Confession.