Gods of the Philosophers
and Theologians (Sometimes Christians) Is
Not the God of the Bible:
A Demonstration of Onto-theology
In philosophical discussions, “God” is a
common term--but he is just that "a term," not a reality.
Without particular differentiation, one can easily get the impression that each
philosopher is talking about the same being.
From Plato’s Ideas to God
being based upon man’s conception in Kant to Barth’s revelation
in the existential moment, these “gods” are infinitely distant
from each other. But
more importantlly, they are infinitely distant from the God's Revelation
of Himself in the 66 books of the agreed-upon Bible.
The idea of the God of the
philosophers apart from the Bible, is known as onto-theology.
Heidegger posited the term to point to the reification of God as
"a Being," rather than "being" itself.
Originally, I entitled this essay simply,
"Gods of the Philosophers." However, not all theologians
discuss the particular God of the Bible either. In a real
sense, every person is both a philosopher and a theologian.
But the theologian and the philosopher work
to understand meanings at the extremes of language and reason.
Their tools of definition, language, hermeneutics, and system
are the same. Indeed, if one understands that philosophy
is simply another type of religion, that is, a search to
in an impersonal universe. The only difference in the
process is that the Christian has knowledge (the Scriptures)
that the pagan does not. However, Christians often do not
use this "special" knowledge in either their philosophy or their
This work is ongoing.
References of particular
interest include (1) Louis Berkhof’s
Systematic Theology in
his early chapters on conceptions of God, and (2) S. E. Frost’s
Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers in his chapter entitled,
“The Nature of God.”
Herein is a brief description of each
philosophers “god.” But
by contrast we will begin with the true God of Biblical
"Far from me and from my friends, be such frigid
philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any
ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue.
That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain
force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow
warmer among the ruins of Iona!
" ("A Journey to the Western
Islands of Scotland" by Samuel Johnson, 1775)
1. There is but one only, living, and true
God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure
spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable,
immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most
holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to
the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for
his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering,
abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity,
transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently
seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments,
hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
2. God hath all life, glory, goodness,
blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself
all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he
hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only
manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the
alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom
are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to
do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever himself pleaseth.
In his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is
infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as
nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in
all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To
him is due from angels and men, and every other creature,
whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to
require of them.
3. In the unity of the Godhead there be three
persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father,
God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none,
neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten
of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the
Father and the Son. (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter
II, Sections 1-3)
Philosophers’ ideas of God reflect the diversity of what the
“knowledge of God” means here.
There is not a definable list of attributes that every
person has. While
there is a core of propositions about God and Christ, there is
no specific list to be found in every believer’s thought.
All cultures have some sense of an “ultimate” power or
transcendental something, but this sense has an extreme variety
from the nebulous pantheism of Hinduism to the quarreling and
finite gods of the Greeks, to the omnipotent, omniscient,
revealing God of the Bible.
Many, if not most, of the great philosophers posited some
sort of unifying force in the universe.
Plato had his Ideas, the “system unifier” of Descartes
(see below), and the “principle of order” of the universe (see
"Only the Bible teaches that the universe is
created and controlled by a personal God who is a se,
not dependent on the world in an way. Polytheistic
religions teach the existence of personal god, but those Gods
are not a se. Monistic worldviews, such as
Hinduism, Taoism, and the philosophies of Parmenides, Plotinus,
Spinoza, and Hegel, teach the existence of absolute being, and
indeed most polytheisms place a principle of absolute fate
beyond the realm of the gods. But these "absolute" beings
and fates are impersonal, and so they do not have personal
control over the world. Indeed ... these absolutes are
correlative to the nonabsolute sectors of the world.
They cannot be defined or described except as aspects of the
universe. They serve as the unchanging aspect of the
world, correlative to the changes of the world of our
experience. So these supposed absolutes depend on the
world as much as the world depends upon them. They are
truly not a se." (John Frame, "Divine Aseity and
Apologetics," in Oliphint and Tipton, Revelation and Reason:
New Essays in Reformed Apologetics, page 120.)
Historical sweep: selective emphasis
of God's attributes. "In harmony with this
biblical representation early Christian theologians never
discussed God's being in the abstract, but conceived of it as
inclusive of all his perfections and attributes. Soon,
however, a distinction was made between God's being in the
abstract and his attributes. One of God's attributes was
usually viewed as basic to all the others:
Some described God as absolute essence:
Plato, Philo, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Roman Catholic
theologians, Reformers, etc.
Some emphasized God's will: Socinians,
Remonstrants, rationalists, etc.
Some stressed God's personality: Jacobi,
Some defined God as absolute reason,
pantheistically conceived: Hegel, etc.
Some looked upon God's moral attributes as
fundamental: Ritschl, etc.
Some gave undue prominence to the
attribute of veracity: Jansenists, etc.
Thus, by emphasizing one attribute the harmony
existing between all was destroyed. (Herman Bavinck, The
Doctrine of God, 114. His explanation of this summary
follows on the pages subsequent to this reference.
Omnipotence is strictly a Christian
notion. "The fact that no philosopher has ever
demonstrated (the absolute power—omnipotence—of
God) is sufficient evidence that it is indemonstrable and is
strictly a Christian notion. There is a sense in which the
God of the philosophers ca be called all-powerful: they believe
that God causes all effects; the unmoved mover is a universal
cause whose efficacy is everywhere present. But for the
philosophers this efficacy is unexceptionally mediated by
natural means." (Clark, Thales to Dewey,
Plato (428 B.C. - 348 B.C. circa).
"Plato's God is the Idea of the Good.... God is confronted with
two equally eternal independent principles. He uses the
Ideas as blueprints to impose order on chaotic space. In
this arrangement, God is neither immanent nor transcendent.
On the one hand, while the Demiurge enjoys a rank higher than
space, he is not the cause of everything in the physical
world.... God can be the cause of only a few things because evil
is more extensive than good. On the other hand, since the
Demiurge occupies a rank lower than the Ideas, he cannot be
transcendent, for he is not the highest principle.... If the
term God is to be restricted to the supreme principle of any
philosophy, the Demiurge is not Plato's God, and attempts to
classify Plato on this basis are beside the point. The
Ideas are Plato's true reality and the physical world is only
half real. In the world of Ideas, the Good is supreme.
Lower Ideas are known only through the Good and only through the
Good do they exist. This seems to make God transcendent,
and no none can deny that it is the supreme Idea. But
supremacy is not precisely transcendency. The Good is not
the creator or even the maker of the Ideas, but rather a supreme
genus of which the inferior Ideas are species.... The Demiurge
makes the world but is not supreme, the Good is supreme but does
not make the world." (Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey,
Aristotle: (384 B.C. - 322 B.C.).
"Aristotle ... denied the infinity,
personality, and worshipability of God, the temporality of the
world, and the immortality of the soul." (Beware
"Aristotle's God is the
pantheistic and least obviously immanent of all the Greek first
principles.... Aristotle refused to admit the existence of prime
matter, except as an unreal limit of abstraction (and) on the
other end of reality he ... admitted the real and separate
existence of a Form apart from matter. The unmoved mover
ought to have been the Form of the World, and thus an immanent
principle. But historically Aristotle denied separate
existence to matter, he broke the symmetry of his system and
asserted it of God. In this sense, therefore, Aristotle's
God is not altogether an immanent principle. But this
unmoved mover is not transcendent either.... (a)
quasi-transcendence of a God who is ignorant of past evils and
of all future events." (Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey,
Aquinas (1225-1274). “Aquinas
was influenced greatly by the thinking of Aristotle, and he
sought to adjust Aristotle and Christian theology to each other
without destroying the fundamental doctrines of the Church….
God, said Aquinas, is pure form.
We infer His existence from the facts of His creation.
For example, (1) everything that moves has a mover.
We find movement in the universe.
Therefore the ultimate source of this movement must be an
unmoved principle, the Unmoved Mover, or God.
Further, (2) the universe
reveals that things are related in a graduated scale of
existence from the lowest forms of existence upward toward more
or less perfect objects. This
leads one to infer that there must be some thing that is perfect
at the very summit, God.
God, for Aquinas, is the first and final cause
of the universe pure form or energy.
He is absolutely perfect.
He is the source, the
Creator of everything out of nothing.
In this creation, he has
revealed himself. Further,
God rules the universe through His perfect will.
Aquinas, in developing this theory of the
nature of God, set the pattern for Catholic belief about God for
all times. Even to the
present the Catholic Church follows this position practically as
outlined by Aquinas.” (S. E Frost, Jr.,
Basic Teachings of the
Great Philosophers, pages 112-113)
Aquinas' first principles conflict. Aquinas' axioms were that truth
could be obtained (1) from empirical observation (naturalism or
in modern terms, "secular humanism") and (2) from Scripture.
Thus, he created what Francis Schaeffer called the "upper and
lower" categories of truth. And, since then, with few
exceptions, philosophers and others (Christian, as well as
non-Christian) have falsely believed that (1) empiricism could
discover truth, (2) that "religion" and the real (empirical)
world were separate affairs, (3) "all truth is God's truth" (the
equating of empiricism with Scripture), and (4) that Scripture
was not the only source of truth. From Aquinas' belief in
conflicting axioms, major confusion on these issues have plagued
the history of philosophy and Christianity into present times.
Descartes (1596-1650): “A less-perfect nature (that of man)
cannot produce the idea of a perfect nature, then the idea of a
perfect nature must originate from a being that is
more perfect, that is,
from God…. God is reduced to a functional role…. God was made to
serve the purposes of the (rationalist) system itself.
He became a major cog, but still a cog in the overall
program of answering skepticism, incorporating the scientific
spirit, and building a rational explanation of the real…. God …
(is) the bridge between the
cogito and knowledge
of the real world…. (All this rationale was a) subordination of
God … (a) marginalization of religion…. Descartes’ philosophical
treatment of God illustrates the modernist shift from seeing God
as a transcendent, personal sovereign… to seeing him as a
‘deity’ who serves the philosopher’s ends by tying his system as
a whole.” (W. Andrew
Hoffecker, Revolutions in
Descartes’ God is all-powerful (omnipotent); the creator of
Descartes’ and all things out of nothing; not a deceiver (he is
not the powerful demon that Descartes feared in the beginning of
his meditations); extremely good; one who implants ideas into
minds (that is, intuited or innate); eternal, infinite, and
omniscient; independent and supremely intelligent; unity and
simplicity; the ground of all existence; perfection with no
defects whatever; immense light; creator of man in his own image
with faculties of mind that provide the ability to know with
certainty; and finally, the only being whose essence cannot be
separated from his existence. (Ed:
"An Irony of History")
"The Cartesian emphasis upon the perfection of God is subverted
by the existence of evil, which clearly may be viewed as a
defect. The issue of suffering thus constitutes the
grounds for disconfirmation of the Cartesian God, whereas in the
Middle Ages ... the same problem was ... most emphatically not
the grounds for abandoning faith." (Alister McGrath,
The Science of God, 225)
“Albert Einstein wrote, ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God, who
reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a
God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human
(Spinoza’s) philosophy had the axiomatic, deductive structure of
For Spinoza, God was not a Being distinct from the universe, a
personal Creator who brought the world into existence.
Instead, ‘God’ was merely a name for the principle of
order within the universe.”
(Thaxton and Pearce,
of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy., 184)
John Locke (1632-1704) on Reason over
Revelation. "A man can never have so certain a
knowledge, that a proposition which contradicts the clear
principles and evidence of his own knowledge was divinely
revealed, or that he understands the words rightly wherein it is
delivered, as he has that the contrary is true, and so is bound
to consider and judge of it as a matter of reason, and not
swallow it ...." (Essay, IV, xviii, 8, p. 424)
"What ever God hath revealed is certainly true: no doubt can be
made of it. This is the proper object of faith; but
whether it be a divine revelation or no, reason must
judge. (IV, xviii, 10, 425) I do not mean that we must
consult reason, and examine whether a proposition revealed from
God can be made out by natural principles, and if it cannot,
that then we may reject it; but consult it we must, and by it
examine whether it be a revelation from God or no: and if reason
finds it to be revealed from God, reason then declares for it as
much as for any other truth, and makes it one of her dictates."
(IV, xix, 14, p. 439—all quoted in Alvin
Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 80-81)
Locke on the Idea of God. "We
may know about God is we use our natural abilities correctly.
We can build the idea of God ... out of other ideas which we
have. If we take, for example, our ideas of existence,
duration, power, pleasure, happiness, and the like, and think of
these as extending to infinity and being gathered together, we
will have an idea of God. God is, then, certain ideas
which we have gathered from experience and extended to
infinity." (S. E. Frost, Jr., Basic Teachings of the
Great Philosophers, 117)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Correspondence of Leibniz' The Monadology with a
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After Pascal's
dramatic conversion, he stated, ""Fire. God of Abraham, God of
Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars… I
will not forget thy word" (Psalm 119:16). Pascal had
gotten it right after a true conversion. He identified
himself with the Jansenists, a group declared heretical by the
Roman Catholic Church, whose theology approximated that of the
The god of the rationalists.
"The god of the rationalists was a hypothetical abstraction, a
deus ex machina, invoked to make the system work, but
not one who was encountered personally in history and present
experience. His existence was, moreover, based upon
arguments which ... (were) dubious. It is not surprising,
therefore, that, when later thinkers rejected the rationalist
approach, and undermined the old proofs of the existence of God,
they felt that God and religion had been disposed of altogether,
and that there was no alternative agnosticism or downright
atheism." (Colin Brown, Philosophy and the Christian
The "God" of the rationalists
rejected. "The God in whom the 19th and 20th
centuries came to disbelieve had been invented only in the
17th century." (Alasdair Macintyre quoted in Alister E.
McGrath, The Science of God, 225. The original
appeared in MacIntyre and Paul Ricoeur, The Religious
Significance of Atheism, New York: Columbia University
Press, 1969), 14.
kind of theism… far from orthodox Christianity… the human mind
can never and must never subject itself to any authority beyond
itself… subject to its own law… radically rejected the idea of
authoritative revelation from God (either in nature or in
Scripture)… the human mind is … its own criterion of truth and
right… the human mind … replaces God as the intelligent planner
and creator of the experienced universe…. The human mind is also
the author of its own moral standards…. Kant’s philosophy …
presupposes human autonomy…. That is what makes Kant unique and
vastly important; he taught secular man where his epistemology
must begin…. So Kant
is widely regarded as the most important philosopher of the
(Frame, Van Til: An
Analysis, page 45).
"While Kant, like Hume, retains the term
revelation in its traditional understanding, he does so
only to reject it, and allows it no more formative cognitive
significance than did Hume.... The historic Christian emphasis
that man's created finitude requires his dependence on
transcendent revelation, and that the consequences of the fall
for man's way of thinking make this dependence all the more
imperative, are swept aside.... By the very limits of human
reason as Kant stipulates these, man is cut off from any
possession of transcendent truth. God is indeed an
indispensable postulate, a regulative ideal demanded by the
moral nature, contends Kant, but not an objective of cognitive
knowledge. (Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and
Authority, Volume I, page 88.)
"Kant did not try to integrate holiness into
his moral theory. Kant not only thought that duty was a
rationally self-justifying end in itself, but even considered
holiness, or inherently good will, irrelevant to ethics except
as a goal that is humanly unattainable but that we are
nevertheless obliged to strive toward. To do the good
because, out of love, one enjoys doing good rather than because
it is one's duty would not be an ethical act, for Kant even if
it leads one to do the ethically right thing. Kant's
ethical ideal of rational autonomy is that one should be
governed by reason along, not by any appetite—even
if that appetite might be love for the true good or a longing
for true being." (Eugene Webb, Worldview and Mind
[Columbia, MO: University of Columbia Press, 2009], 105-106)
"Although Kant professed a
kind of theism and
an admiration for Jesus,
he was clearly far from
Indeed, his major book on religion (Religion
within the Limits of Reason Alone)
has as its chief theme
that the human mind
must never subject itself
to any authority beyond itself. Kant radically rejected the
authoritative revelation from God
and asserted the autonomy
of the human mind
perhaps more clearly than had ever
been done before (though
had always maintained this notion).
The human mind is to be
its own supreme authority, its own criterion of truth
Frederick Schleiermacher (1768-1834).
“(He) sought to safeguard the scientific character of
theology by the introduction of a new method.
The religious consciousness of man was substituted for
the Word of God as the source of theology…. (That is) human
insight based on man’s own emotional or rational apprehension….
Religion took the place of God as the object of theology…. (Man)
prided himself on being a seeker after God.
In course of time, it became rather common to speak of
man’s discovering God…. Every discovery was dignified with the
name of ‘revelation.’
God came in at the end of a syllogism, or as the last
link in a chain of reasoning, or as the cap-stone of a structure
of human thought…. His starting point is anthropological, rather
(Louis Berkhof, Systematic
Theology, pages 19-20)
God of the Modernists, 1871.
"Their God is an abstraction and has no actual
existence. I say this with all seriousness. I know
that Modernists are not conscious of it for they venerate,
worship, love, and adore something they not infrequently call
"God." By the process of personification they confer both
reality and personhood on that something. To the object of
their adoration they attribute power to affect moral life.
Summed up in their idea of God is the noblest and purest essence
they can imagine. They lose themselves totally in that
self-generated God and devote to him the sighings of their
heart. Indeed, in their inner contemplation that God-idea
is so much their all that from him as the sum of all good they
sooner or later expect the triumph of all good. But does
it follow that there is a living God corresponding to the
God-idea they have created for themselves? Abraham Kuyper,
"Modernism: A Fata Morgana in the Christian Domain," in James D.
Bratt, Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, page 105)
Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976). "To
believe in God is not at all to believe that there exists a
being of a certain sort. Instead, it is to adopt a certain
attitude or policy, or to make a kind of resolve: the resolve,
perhaps, to accept and embrace one's finitude, giving up the
futile attempt to build hedges and walls against guilt, failure
and death." (Alvin Plantinga, Faith and Rationality,
"Modern Christianity must 'demythologize'—that
is, rid itself of it non-historical, mythical concepts.... Most
unbelieving readers agreed with the traditionalist critics, that
by his demythologizing and existentializing Bultmann had reduced
a doctrine about God and man to a doctrine of man alone."
(Antony Flew, A Dictionary of Philosophy, pages 50-51)
"(He) categorically denied that there could be
any miracles, including the resurrection of Jesus.
Instead, he placed the basis of Christianity in the existential
choice for the Christ of faith.... (He) defended a 'demythologisation'
of the Bible that reinterpreted the gospel in modern existential
terms shorn of supernatural dressing." (Hill and Rauser,
Christian Philosophy A-Z, page 27)
"In Bultmann's words, he believed it would be both senseless
and impossible not to recognize the Gospels as myth. 'It would
be senseless, because there is nothing specifically Christian in
the mythical view of the world as such. It is simply the
cosmology of a pre-scientific age.'
Further, 'it would be impossible, because no man
can adopt a view of the world by his own volition – it is
already determined for him by his place in history.'
The reason for this, says Bultmann, is
that 'all our thinking to-day is shaped for good or ill by
modern science.' So "a blind acceptance of the New Testament
mythology would be irrational. . .. . It would involve a
sacrifice of the intellect. . . . It would mean accepting a view
of the world in our faith and religion which we should deny in
our everyday life.'" (Norman Geisler, "Beware of
Barth (1886-1968). ”Barth … is particularly interested in the
subject of revelation… (wanting) to lead the Church back from
the subjective to the objective, from religion to revelation….
Barth does not recognize any revelation in nature…. Revelation
is always God in action, God speaking, bringing something
entirely new to man, something of which he could have no
previous knowledge…. Since God is always sovereign and free in
His revelation, it can never assume a factually present,
objective form with definite limitations, to which man can turn
at any time for instruction. Hence
it is a mistake to regard the Bible as God’s revelation in any
other than a secondary sense. It
is a witness and a token of, God’s revelation…. But through
whatever mediation the word of God may come to man in the
existential moment of his life, it is always recognized by man as a word directly spoken to him, and coming perpendicularly from
above…. The revelation of God was given
once for all in Jesus
Christ: not in his historical appearance, but in the
superhistorical in which the powers of the eternal world become
evident, such as His incarnation and His death and his
resurrection…. His revelation is … continuous…. God speaks to
sinners in the existential moment of their lives, through the
revelation in Christ, mediated by the Bible and preaching.
Thus we are left with
mere flashes of revelation coming to individuals, of which only
those individuals have absolute assurance… a rather precarious
foundation for theology…. Mankind is not in possession of any
infallible revelation of God. (Louis
Theology, page 39)
"The prophets and apostles, as such, even in
their office ... (were) actually guilty of error in their spoken
and written word." (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics,
I, 2, 528-529, quoted in Gordon Clark, What Do Presbyterians
Believe?, 14) More on Barth
"Barth's dialectical method permitted him to
use old words and phrases—Biblical words
and phrases—while giving them new, and quite un-Biblical
meanings. 'God,' he wrote, 'may speak to us through
Russian Communism, through a flute concerto, through a
blossoming shrub or through a dead dog. We shall do well
to listen to him if he really does do so.'" (Back cover of
Karl Barth's Theological Method by Gordon Clark)
Paul Tillich (1886-1965). “’The
question of the existence of God can be neither asked nor
answered. If asked,
it is a question about that which by its very nature is above
existence, and therefore the answer—whether negative or
affirmative—implicitly denies the existence of God as it is to
deny it. God is
being-itself, not a being….’ God is the name for the ‘infinite and inexhaustible depth
and ground of all being…. (Thus) you cannot call yourself an
atheist or unbeliever.’
Through a series of linguistic contortions, Tillich
manages to erase the distinction between theism and atheism in
one fell swoop…. Tillich
denies that he is a supernaturalist or a naturalist, both which
he considers “insufficient and religiously dangerous solutions….
Tillich’s god is ‘self-transcendent’ …. ‘He stands against the
world, is so far as the world stands against him, and he stand
for the world, thereby
causing it to stand for him’….
At best, Tillich’s God is esoteric; at worst, it is
incoherent” …. Tillich’s god, whatever it is, cannot be said to
exist.” (George H.
Smith, Atheism: The Case
Against God, [Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1989, 33-34)
Ed’s comment: This quote contains within it quotes of Tillich
and Smith. I have
chosen this quote because it is from an atheist who rightly
Smith is able to understand that Tillich’s god is contradictory
and incoherent. Does
more need to be said?
Paul Tillich's absolutes.
(1) "The structure of the mind that makes sense impressions
possible, and the logical and semantic structure of the mind."
(2) "The universals that make language possible." (3) "The
categories and polarities that make understanding of reality
possible." (4) "The most basic absolute of all ... the
Absolute itself ... being itself." (Paul Tillich, My
Search for Absolutes, 124-125)
Ian Wilks (current): "God is
taken in a standard way, as referring to an all-knowing, all
powerful, and all loving being." (Faith and Philosophy,
January 2009, page 64)
Alvin Plantinga (1932-).
"(The god who) unites Calvin and Aquinas, Luther and
Augustine, Menno Simons and Karl Barth, Mother Teresa and St.
Maximus the Confessor, Billy Graham and St. Gregory Palamas....
God is a person: that is, a being with intellect and
will. A person has (or can have) knowledge and belief, but also
affections, loves, and hates; a person, furthermore, also has or
can have intentions, and can act so as to fulfill them. God has
all of these qualities and has some (knowledge, power, and love,
for example) to the maximal degree. God is thus all-knowing and
all-powerful; he is also perfectly good and wholly loving. Still
further, he has created the universe and constantly upholds and
providentially guides it. (Warranted Christian Belief,
Plantinga includes the God of the
Christian, as well as that of the Muslim and Jew, under the
belief." Then, he says that God is a person—"conscious," "some kind of awareness"; He "loves
and hates, wishes and desires; she (sic) approves of some things and
disproves of others"; has "affections," "beliefs," "knowledge,"
and "aims and intentions." (Knowledge of God with
Michael Tooley, pages 1-2.)
God of the modern American populace.
"What routinely passes for popular faith in one supreme God
today often reflects—as in Gallup Poll
reports that 99 percent of the American people 'believe in
God'—some modern version of the phantom monotheism of pagan
philosophy and religion. We deceive ourselves if we think
that the pagan monotheisms of the past were all alike and that
no divergence of monotheisms exists today. The doubts
concerning God among young intellectuals today often rest
on their secular misunderstandings of monotheism whose survival
value is more emotional than intellectual. Hamilton is
right when he observes that 'The recent explosion of odd and
often archaic religions beliefs, especially among the young,
points to a break-up—or at the very least a severe
questioning—of abstract monotheism.'" (Carl F. H. Henry,
God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol. 5, 171. Henry's
quote of Hamilton is from To Turn from Idols, 171.)