The Berean Expositor
Volume 28 - Page 35 of 217
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Matthew Arnold conceived of God as an impersonal "power not ourselves that makes
for righteousness" but, as Fitchett points out, such a power "would be as incapable of
personal relationships as, say, the Gulf Stream or Niagara. The denial of personality to
God is fatal to religion. It thrusts God out of the moral realm; it makes personal
relationship with Him impossible". "A machine cannot reason, or love, or will. Who can
love gravitation, or pray to electricity; or sing hymns, say, to the law of the conservation
of energy?"
Philosophy has offered to us, in place of the Living God, Hegel's "idea", the "Blind
Will" of Schopenhaur, the "Sublimated Unconscious" of Hartmann, the "Moral Order"
of Fichte, and the "Eternal Not Ourselves" of Matthew Arnold. But what is an "idea"
but an expression of conscious thinking personality? And what is "will" but another
evidence of moral and mental personality? The personal God was really there, but the
philosophers were not able to see Him.
When man examines himself, he discovers a personality: a self-conscious being,
which thinks, wills, and feels. Is it possible that man is greater than his Maker? Can we
believe that God has endowed the creature of His hands with a nobler nature than He
Himself possesses? The Psalmist's condemnation of heathen gods would need little
revising to fit the Deity of the philosophers:
"They have mouths, but they speak not: Eyes have they, but they see not: They have
ears, but they hear not; Noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they
handle not: Feet have they, but they walk not; Neither speak they through their throat"
(Psa. 115: 5-7).
The whole creation testifies to a Personal Creator.
Nature is intelligible, else there could be no Science. This intelligibility implies
Nature reveals a purpose. We know, without any book learning, that the direction
of any force to an end or goal is the expression of will. Will is inconceivable apart
from a person.
Nature is manifestly a coherent unity. Life and activity would cease unless the
elements and forces of nature were correlated and held in balance. Intelligence,
will and unity all demand that the Cause behind nature's phenomena must be a
Personality is essentially a trinity. We will not discuss at this juncture how far this is
related to the doctrine of the Triune God, but it is clear that a person is conscious of three
outgoings--he thinks, he wills, and he feels. We will not pursue this question further, at
the moment. Possessing all Scripture, and rejoicing in the glorious fact that in the person
of Christ God is manifested in the flesh, we defer further study in this connection, until
we deal with the coming of Christ. We will not, however, leave this matter without some
explicit testimony from the Word itself, and we therefore draw attention to some of the
ways in which the Scriptures speak of the "living God".
The first testimony to the fact that God is the "living God" is found in Deut. 5: 26: