This week we’ll go over Mystery and Revelation:
We’re using the “Handbook of Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli to go over the arguments for the existence of God our Creator. We will now begin covering the attributes of God as described in the above title. Dr. Kreeft teaches logic in two major universities, so his arguments tend to be clear, concise and very helpful.
You may be dissatisfied with some of what you find in this section on the nature of God our creator. Some may think too much is claimed. But if you look back over what we have said, you will find that the results are mainly negative. We have taken pains to say what the Creator is not and cannot be. It is because God is the Creator that we must deny certain things about him. For example, we argued that God is not material, he is spiritual. We use the word spiritual to denote his complete immateriality because we use it to denote that part of us which is furthest removed from what we take to be material being.
How God Lives
But how God lives his life we do not, and cannot, as mere philosophers, pretend to know. All we know is that God is not bound by matter, and that if what we call “spirit” is that which escapes the constraints of material limitation, then God is spirit—though infinitely more free from that limitation than we are, with an intensity incalculably richer than our own. Therefore, “spirit” is not used univocally (i.e., with the same meaning) of God and us; nor is it used equivocally (i.e., with two completely different meanings). Rather, it is used analogically (i.e., in a way partly the same and partly different).
Note the movement of thought from affirmation to negation and back again. Note also that what controls this movement at every stage is our realization that God is the creative cause of all things.
1. God is the fullness of being. (affirmation)
2. God is immaterial. (negation)
3. God is spiritual. (affirmation)
4. God is not spiritual as we are. (negation)
5. God’s spiritual being is infinitely greater and richer than our own. (reaffirmation)
We can reasonably assert that these things are true; but we do not, and cannot, know how. The life of God remains a mystery.
Have We Claimed Too Little
But some may think that we have claimed too little. They see a great distance here between the loving Father revealed in Scripture and the infinitely mysterious Creator revealed in philosophical speculation. And we admit this: the kind of love revealed in Jesus is far greater than what we could hope to know from philosophy. That is precisely why Jesus revealed the Father to us. If we could learn all we need to know about God from philosophy, we would have no need of divine revelation. Having said this, what philosophy has given us is not without worth. It shows that, at every moment of our existence, we depend on our Creator for everything: our existence, our intelligence, the intelligibilities our intelligence grasps, the goods we strive for—even the free choices by which we strive for them.
Philosophy shows that this Creator infinitely exceeds whatever level of spiritual unity we might possess, and that it is reasonable to view God’s action as intelligent, good and providential. True, it does not show the level of love that was revealed in Christ. But it leaves the way open for that possibility. It also discourages idolatry: our cutting God down to our own size, reducing to a measurable distance, so to speak, the height from which he sees us. God cannot be greater than us by any finite measure. He is not in competition with any created thing.
Whatever we have is a gift. Nothing is our own. Philosophy can help us to see all that, and so to be grateful for something we too often take for granted: our very being.
Kreeft, P., & Tacelli, R. K. (1994). Handbook of Christian apologetics: hundreds of answers to crucial questions (pp. 96–97). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.