We are inquiring whether the claims of Christianity are true, and particularly whether Christians have a reliable account of God.
The first question was whether anything entitled to the title of God exists at all. Engaging in natural theology, we noted that the universe appears to have had a beginning and that it contains both physical laws governing matter and moral laws governing our conduct. All material things are subject to the physical laws; only humans appear to be subject to the moral laws. And only humans notice that the glory of the world, redeeming it somewhat from the curse of sin, evil, and death, is self-giving love of individuals. We speculated that if there is an all-powerful God who made the world and its laws, that God should be concerned about the struggle of love with sin, evil, and death.
We turned next to the Bible to see what it records about communications between God and human beings. Talking to Anaiah, a fictional interlocutor, we heard about the call of Abraham, in which God revealed a plan to bless all of humanity. The blessing would not come suddenly by magic, but through the patient obedience of one man and his descendants. The blessing would consist not in fame and fortune, but in the defeat of sin, evil, and death through unification with the holy, loving God. This may seem to be a mixed blessing in culture that exalts wealth and power, but surely we have seen enough to realize that the lives of the rich and powerful are not reliably happy. Thus our examination of Abraham produced this result: the writers of that part of the Bible understood the human condition and depicted God as addressing this condition in a loving way.
We then digressed a bit to inquire about the origin of evil in the world and saw that the beginning of the Book of Genesis appears to provide a rather sophisticated analysis of this problem. The story sets the reality of sin, evil, and death against a cosmic background where Adam and Eve were tempted by a spiritual enemy to disobey God. The story has legendary elements, but it speaks to a deep truth about the world: sin, evil, and death are realities that we cannot avoid. The only hope, it would seem, is to ally ourselves to a being who is untouched by these realities.
Our next installment will further explore the history of the Jewish people as recorded in the Bible to find out more about the character of God depicted there. After all, we can’t make a reasonable judgment about whether the God of the Bible exists until we know what that God is supposed to be like.