What does the answer to God mean
God - asked
Isn't Ivonne right? If you told her at her confirmation that God wanted to be her friend, then you also have to tell her how that is to be understood. The Christian faith begins with a message that claims to be the word of God. Here it is asserted no less than that God speaks to us humans in his word. From this assertion it can be deduced that God wants to be understood and can be understood. Nevertheless, such an assertion requires a great deal of explanation. What is the Christian faith about when speaking of God and his word addressed to us?
Ivonne is also right when she insists that this explanation should not be dismissed with all sorts of trivialities about “do-gooders” or “pizza making”. The answer of the Christian message to the question about God is not a comfort of soul adapted to the general insignificance of this society or a therapeutic help in crisis situations, but it is, as Paul put it, an irritating imposition, a scandal (cf. 1 Cor 1:23) . The Christian message does not double the perplexity of this world. Jesus begins his preaching with the call to repent, better translated with the call to “rethink” (metanoite! Cf. Mk 1.15). How unbearable and scandalous this message of faith must have been can be seen from the fact that Jesus was apparently executed for it on the cross. The message of faith calls everything, our whole life and above all our religious pre-understanding of God into question. The Christian faith even questions our way of asking about God.
Conversely, ask Ivonne: Assuming someone she does not know and whom she has not yet met would send her a message and send a signal that he is her friend and wants to have fellowship with her, then the first question is : “Does this someone exist or why does this someone exist?” Certainly not a question that helps us understand a friendship and fellowship with him. You'd better ask, "Who is this someone?"
But Ivonne asks, because God is actually nowhere to be found in the world, as we all ask in our religious pre-understanding, in view of the Christian message of our friendship with God: “Does God exist? Does God even exist? And if it does exist, why does it exist if you do not notice it? Why is he not doing anything about all the wars and injustices, about this suffering and misery in the world? Where is God? "
Anyone who asks this way is subject to a misunderstanding that confuses everything. This question alone will make an answer to the question about God impossible.
God - incomprehensible
This question alone, whether God “is” at all and how he can allow suffering, represents the problem that this question is actually asked to solve. This question means a reified conception of God. With this question God is forced into the realm of the facts of this world. But God is not a worldly fact and he does not actually appear simply in the world. God is nowhere "to be found" that one could refer to some reality to define it as an experience of God. God does not fall under concepts, least of all under the concept of being. When speaking of the “mystery” and the “greatness” of God, these are a paraphrase for the fact that God is greater than everything in the world, also greater than everything that can be thought (Anselm von Canterbury 1033–1109). Speaking of God goes beyond the possibilities of our ordinary language. It doesn't matter how this reality, which is designated by God, is thought of and how it is spoken of. It cannot be measured by the standards of the world and of man. Nor can God be a factor in a human chain of reasoning or evidence. Not even the ultimate guarantor of morality or the answer to the question of meaning. Forcing God into such functional contexts means creating God as a construct of man and thus bringing man into the position of God. Such human self-projections ultimately amount to idolizing the world. Many people who consider themselves atheists are actually rejecting such a false conception of God, against which the Christian message is also directed. God is not part of the world and therefore necessarily incomprehensible. But if you want to say who God is, you need a concept of God.
For this reason, the first reaction to the Christian message that God takes us into his fellowship is not the question of the existence of God, but more appropriately we would ask: "Who is God?"
God - the one without whom nothing is
The Christian message tries to answer the problem of the necessary incomprehensibility with a simultaneously necessary concept of God. This answer is taken from the Bible, but is understandable to human reason. There the word “God” is introduced right at the beginning with two “creation accounts” (Gen 1,1–2,4a; 2,4b – 25). As different as these “creation accounts” are, their basic message is the same: Everything that exists is such that it cannot be without God. The entire world and man is here seen as such a reference to God. The whole world from the beginning is the reason why God is spoken of here. This also determines who God is: nothing of what is can be without him. But what exactly does that mean, such a referentiality of creation, which is such that nothing can be without it.
We find a reference to this in the second Book of Maccabees (7.28). There a mother speaks to her youngest son, whom a tyrant wants to dissuade from believing in God, about God's creation: “I ask you, my child, look at heaven and earth; see everything that is there and know: God created it out of nothing (...) ”. This creation out of nothing would be completely misunderstood if one assumed that nothing was created first and God then made the rest of creation out of it. The term “created out of nothing” becomes understandable when it is translated as “completely”. To be created by God out of nothing then means that in everything by which the created differs from nothing, it is such that it completely refers to God. If this creation could be eliminated, the created would no longer be. Being created is not an additional quality, but is identical to the creature. Creation is completely absorbed in its relationship to God. From the perspective of the Bible, nothing can exist without being entirely related to a reality that the Bible calls "God".
In this biblical determination of creation lies the determination of God, which on the one hand preserves the incomprehensibility of God and at the same time offers a concept of God. The Christian answer to the question of who God is, which is also understandable for reason, is plain and simple: God is the one without whom nothing is.
What's in this answer? Here we always only understand the creational world that is completely and totally different from God and that points to him. But this referencing is such that it could not be without the whereupon of this referencing.
The statement that God is the one “without whom there is nothing” is in itself the subject of human rational knowledge. The Bible does not establish such knowledge, but merely helps to discover it. It is not yet comforting and beneficial in itself, but it prevents the world or parts of it from being mistaken for God. How, in view of the completely one-sided relationship of the world with God, it can still be said that God has taken us into his community, that he is our confidante and friend, answers the Christian message with the talk of the Trinity of God. The Creator is not part of his creation, but creation is part of the Creator. This being-created-in-God cannot be read in the world, but must be told to it. One can only do justice to this word of God by faith. In any case, it means being drawn into the eternal relationship of God to God, the Father to the Son, which is the Holy Spirit. Trusting in it is understanding God as a friend.
Author (s): Eckhard Türk
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