Man’s only absolute today is that there are no absolutes. Until man changes his method for finding truth, he cannot come to an absolute. He cannot have cosmos, only chaos. Any conclusion about an ultimate is anathema. His problem is the bias of the dialectical method. Truth always changes. The discovery of an idea is more important that truth itself. Discovery is always in process.
Christianity counters this contemporary denial of ultimate truth with an affirmation of who God is—an absolute Being who is all encompassing, uncaused and unconditioned. Since God has no cause, all derivative and ensuing morals and truth flow from Him. They are binding upon all people everywhere in every culture during every period of time.
Dialectical thought, the prevalent philosophy of the twenty-first century, is a philosophy of antithesis. It is a philosophy without an adequate universal. A cannot be non-A. If a thing is true, the opposite is not true; if a thing is right, the opposite is wrong. If man is limited (finite) he cannot come to a boundless (infinite) truth by himself. He needs an all-comprehensive reference point, an absolute.
Man’s loss of the pou sto (a place to stand) is his chief paradox. This has caused him to adopt the philosophy of logical contradiction. Without knowledge of God no one can transcend finite cosmic perspective. An infinite God must of necessity be self-authenticating since only God is an adequate witness to Himself. Man is inadequate to apply any human test to determine whether God’s claim is valid. To invite man to test Christianity without revelation is to open the door for human methodology. He would not start from a clean slate because human autonomy is not ultimate.
From the biblical perspective, God is the all-comprehensive reference point from whom all values originate. An absolute is a fixed reference point No one has caused God to do or be anything, thus all creation is put in relation to Him and not He to creation. Since God is absolute He is the only being who possesses absolute freedom; He is subject to no restrictions other than Himself; He has no bound except that which is self-imposed.
Man merely possesses a derived freedom, a freedom only within the framework of God’s design for him. Therefore, from a biblical worldview, all value relates to the ultimate whole—God. Any philosophy which does not take God into account must in some sense cut itself down to the finite. A finite philosophy is of necessity incomplete. God, who exists eternally by no cause outside Himself and who alone is the sufficient cause of everything provides a clear reason for living.
The absolute for Christianity is God. He transcends all other absolute. He is unsurpassed and unrivaled superiority—peerless. He never miscalculates on anything; no one ever catches Him napping; no problem confounds Him; nothing is too big for God; His authority stretches out to the acts of me; He has never learned anything because He always knew everything. Everything finds denotation and connotation in Him.
If God is absolute and unconditioned by anything outside Himself, all His acts have their origin in Himself alone. No one influenced Him to create the universe. Because God is completely self-determined, He is totally free and independent from any other cause. God has the ground of existence in Himself; He does not depend for His existence upon anything separate from Himself. As Thomas Aquinas said, He is “the first cause, Himself caused.” This does not mean that His self-existence is grounded in His will. He exists by the necessity of His nature, for God is not His own cause! As an absolute Being, He is not only independent in Himself, but also causes everything to depend on Him.
God did not decree anything about Himself. God exists for Himself and is totally sufficient to Himself. What He does is determined by His own internal nature. Creation is a free result from the purpose of God and is not necessary to the completion of God.
- THEISM = The idea of God surpasses anything finite. God has no equal or competitor. He stands alone in unrivalled and unapproachable grandeur.
- QUESTION: Dependability of thought as it bears on the contemplation of infinity. An absolute God is the vaguest of all impressions of God.
- The PROPOSITION that there is a God introduces at once the cause of all causes, the finality of all philosophy and the alpha and omega of all science.
- God is so different from man that no ultimate conception of God is possible. There is a correspondence in the nature of faculties and properties (man/God). They are incomparable as to the degree of perfection.
- ABSOLUTE: God exists eternally by no cause whatsoever outside Himself and that He alone is the sufficient cause of all that is.
- INFINITE (Not finite), infinity relates itself to all attributes in that they are what they are to an infinite degree, or without termination.
God transcends all limitation which time or space impose. He cannot be imprisoned either in time or space. In like manner, He knows all things perfectly.
God is able to bring things to pass, even to create as He wills apart from means or material, and always in measureless perfection. In every moral quality, He is complete to infinity.
THE SELF-EXISTENCE AND INDEPENDENCE OF GOD
God has the ground of His existence in Himself. We have the ground of our existence outside of ourselves. God is not dependent for His existence upon anything outside Himself.
THOMAS AQUINAS = “God is the first cause, Himself uncaused.”
Cf. Ex 3:14, “I AM THAT I AM”
Cf. JEHOVAH Ex, 6:3
Yet God’s self-existence is not grounded in His will but in His nature: He exists by the necessity of His nature. It is not correct to say that God is His own cause. For if that were the case, He would have the power to annihilate Himself.
God has “LIFE IN HIMSELF” JN 5:26, ACTS 17:25; EPH 1:11, Ps 33:11
Independence is that perfection which indicates that God is not dependent upon anything outside Himself, but that He is self-sufficient in His whole being, in His decree and in all His works
The independence of God includes more the idea of God aseity or self-existence. His independence characterizes not only His existence, but His whole being and His attributes, His decree and His works of creation, providence and redemption.
This is not the absolute of Spinoza or Hegel.
The absolute for them is one of metaphysics, the designation of the ultimate ground of all existence.
When the absolute is conceived of as the self-existent and as the ultimate ground of all things, which voluntarily enters into various relations with other being, it can be identified with the God of theology, as the self-existent God. He is not only independent in Himself but also causes everything to depend on Him. It is only as the self-0existent and independent One that God can give the assurance that He will remain eternally the same in relationship to His people (Jn 5:26; Ps 94:8ff; Isa 40:18ff).
DEFINITION OF INDEPENDENCE OF GOD
“By this is meant that God is in no sense correlative to or dependent upon anything beside His being. God is the source of His own being, or rather the term source cannot be applied to God, God is absolute, He is sufficient unto Himself,” VAN TIL, P. 9, THE DEFENSE OF THE FAITH,
God is independent in His:
thought: ROM 11:33,34
will, DAN 4:35; ROM 9:19, EPH 1:5; REV 4 :11
power, Ps 115:3
counsel, PS 33:11.
GOD AS ABSOLUTE
The term “absolute” is derived from absolutus.
SOLVERE = to loosen
Absolutus means free as to condition, or free from limitation or restraint. The fundamental thought as worked out in various ways so that the absolute was regarded as that which is free from all conditions (the unconditioned or self-existent), from all relations (the unrelated), from all imperfections (the perfect) or free from all phenomenal differences or distinctions, such as matter and spirit, being and attributes, subject and object, appearance and reality (the real or ultimate reality).
God is the infinite one, who does not exist in any necessary relations. This is because He is self-sufficient but at the same time can enter into various relations with His creation as a whole and with His creatures. God’s incommunicable attributes emphasize His absolute being while His communicable attributes stress the fact that He enters into various relations with His creatures.
MAN CANNOT PARTAKE OF INCOMMUNICABLE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD.
Man cannot in any sense be the source of his own being. God’s incommunicable attributes emphasize the transcendence of God while the communicable attributes stress His immanence. The two imply one another. The Christian notion of transcendence and the Christian notion of immanence go together.
GOD’S KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD is, in the nature of the case, not obtained as the result of an investigation of the facts and the laws of the world.
The facts are what they are because of God’s plan with respect to them, therefore, His knowledge of the world is involved in His plan for the world. Thus, His knowledge of the facts and the laws of the world precede the existence of the world.
MAN IN GOD’S IMAGE
As Christians, we say that we can be like God and must be like God in that we are persons but that we must always be unlike God in that He is an absolute person while we are finite persons.
Man was created in God’s image.
Man can never in any sense outgrown His creaturehood. This puts a definite connotation into the expression that man is like God. But always like God on a creaturely scale. He can never be like God in God’s aseity, immutability, infinity and unity.
Man was not created with comprehensive knowledge even with comprehensive knowledge while he is in heaven.
We would have to be God ourselves in order to understand God in the depth of His being. The infinite God must always remain mysterious to finite man.
The conceptions of God is the foundation of everything else that we hold dear. For us, everything depends for its meaning on an absolute God.
THE FALL OF MAN
When man fell it was therefore his attempt to do without God in every respect. Man sought his ideals of truth, goodness and beauty somewhere beyond God, either directly within himself or in the universe about him. God had interpreted the universe for him, or we may say that man had interpreted the universe under the direction of God. But now under the influence of sin he sought to interpreted the universe not under the direction of God, but he sought to interpret the universe without reference to God. We mean, of course, without reference to the kind of God defined biblically.
The result for man was that he made for himself a false ideal of knowledge, made for himself the idea of absolute comprehension of knowledge.
This he could never have done if he had continued to recognize that he was a creature. It is totally inconsistent with the idea of creatureliness that man should strive for absolute or comprehensive knowledge in man; if it could be attained, it would wipe God out of existence: man would then be God.