Where we learn who God is (a Book Review)



The title of this article might seem a bit on the nose but I once thought so too until I saw someone posting that trees told them about who God was. Since I am a Christian kids book author I see myself as a kind of guardian of theology for kids. I do not per say want to make this a full time ministry per say but when God Himself or how we know about God are called into question by a kids book I feel the need to respond. Not only because who God is and how to know who He is, is so core to the faith of all people but because I myself have my series on who God is, About God For Kids. In the series each book is about a different attribute of God. So that makes me an area expert because there are not many people writing books like that for kids. I more than most understand the struggle to take profound truths of God and explain them to babes.


Here is an amazon link to the book.


https://www.amazon.com/This-Know-Seeing-World-based/dp/1732241848/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=this+i+know+clay&qid=1618740880&sr=8-3









In Clay Anderson’s book, This I Know: Seeing God in the World He Made (based on Jesus Loves Me) He has a girl going around into the material world, in particular the non man made things is what she observes. For example snowflakes in winter and fall leaves in Autumn. Every page ends with a parallel saying “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the (whatever object she is observing) tells me so.” It is trying to do an alternative to the kids song “Jesus Loves Me”.





I must give credit to where credit is due. He does have one page that is biblically sound but it’s because he actually quotes the song. This one page though does not just undo the logic of the other illustrations though. The other observations of this girl are biblically illogical and also are not apologetically sound evidentially or presuppositionally. The essence of the argument can easily be disproved by a child who does not believe in God (is in open disdain towards the God of the Bible.


In case you are wondering, what is this guys argument? He is making bold statements without any evidence. Well I am the kind of guy that likes to make my statements clear up from then I prove them afterwards. I hate when people leave you hanging and finally bring out what their point is at the end. Before we can fully address the theology of this book I wanted to start off with a quote and run from there.


Presuppositional apologetics


“But by presupposing the sovereign Creator and His Word as the requisite transcendental of any intellectual endeavor, the apologist can expose the fatal defects of all autonomous reasoning, calling unregenerate men back (for the sake of their eternal salvation) to covenantal obedience in terms of God’s Word, and praying for the operation of the Holy Spirit to that end. The only proper starting point for an adequate theology and apologetic is God’s special revelation; only upon this necessary, sufficient, authoritative, and clear foundation can any fact receive a proper interpretation—God’s interpretation. When man will submit to the powerful and meaningful Word of Christ in Scripture his eyes will be opened to recognize God’s revelation in every phenomenon of nature, principle of reason, and detail of history—a revelation that constantly exerts its pressure on him even while he struggles to hold it back.” Greg Bahsen in Pressupositional Apologetics: Stated and Defined page 6.


When reading this book and reading Bahnsen’s sweeping arguments for the authority of the Special Revelation revealed in the Bible. I was compelled to write this article. It made me think of people looking to sources outside the Bible to know who God is. There is no reason to go outside the Bible to learn about who God is and for a matter of fact you cannot.


  1. What we do learn from General Revelation

  2. Why General Revelation does not teach us about who God is

  3. God is only revealed in the Bible.

  4. God’s love for humanity is shown in redemptive history


  1. What we do learn from General Revelation


In Romans 1 Paul clearly teaches that the basic knowledge that is needed to know there is a God is plainly seen. He is not talking about the knowledge we get from God speaking to prophets or inspiring the Apostles. Instead he is referring to a theological term called General Revelation. General Revelation is essentially what the girl in the book is looking at. It is the created world around her. In summary it is the whole of the material universe that she observes with her senses. Romans 1 is clear that General Revelation has been placed there in part so that on judgment day God can say that knowledge that there was a creator was inherent in the creation. So if the girl in the book, for example, would have said “I know there is a God for (fill in the blank) tells me so.” That would have been biblical. The Bible is comfortable with us knowing there is a God when we look around. Paul explains it like this,


“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:18-21‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬





The key there is the last phrase, “so they have no excuse for not knowing God.”


  1. Why General Revelation does not teach us about who God is


This brings me to my next point, which is really a part two of the first point. A tree does not, I repeat, does not tell you the nature of who God is. It merely tells you that there is a God. A free might tell you the creator is powerful, creative, and competent but that does not tell you who He is as a person. Another way of putting it is that it tells you that God has the hard skills of being able to create but it does not tell you whether He has the soft skills of kindness or goodness. Conceivably God could potentially be apathetic, distant, harsh, unreliable, or even evil. The snowflake does not tell me anything other that He creates. Another way of putting it is that if I buy a handmade wooden craftsman box to give to my wife to put my wife’s jewelry in. The box itself does not tell me the nature of the person who made it. Adolf Hitler could have created it while Jews were burning by his command (to put it extremely to make my point).


This particular observation is really the crux of my argument. God has spoken through the Bible about who He is in particular. He has multiple generations and multiple covenants of people He has record of dealing with. Romans 1 clearly says that creation was only meant to explain there is a God. Full stop. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen” Romans 1:20


The general revelation are only meant to explain the presence of those three things.


  1. God’s invisible attributes (not His character but His abilities)

  2. Eternal power

  3. Divine nature


3. God is only revealed in the Bible


Some adults should come along and tell the girl in this book the truth. They should see that this girl is foolish thinking that you learn about God’s character of love through the universe. I know I would be that adult because God has painstakingly shown who He is. He covenanted to a people after He saved them from slavery. And then He came and died because of His love and broadened His covenant people to millions more. Trees will never give you that.


Even if in theory the words “God loves you” or “God loves humanity” were written on a tree does not make it general revelation. Even if it had “from Yahweh” on every single tree. Why is that? Well because it not inherent in the tree the nature of the tree or the star is not saying that, but after the tree is finished God is writing a little note on it. That would be special revelation. Any time there are words involved you have special revelation. And according to the below definition, miracles also tell you of God. But miracles are very unclear about who exactly is God. Just that He cares enough to heal. But He could want to heal but still be evil. He could be petty and wants love, but only loves Himself.


Special Revelation according to wiki is


“Special revelation is a Christian theological term that refers to the belief that knowledge of God and of spiritual matters can be discovered through supernatural means, such as miracles or the scriptures—a disclosure of God's truth through means other than through reason.”


We clearly see God’s soft skills and character in scripture.


A few examples are


Psalm 116:5





Micah 7:18





The leaves do not tell us that. The stars do not give us the clarity that God is love like these text. They do not clarify anything.


  1. God’s love for humanity is shown in receptive history.


When Jesus went to the cross God’s love for humanity was made clearest. That particular tree that had the God man nailed to it did tell us much about the love of the God hanging from it, but the tree itself before Christ was on it could not tell us anything.


John 3:16





It is out of love for us that He came and died. We even get our standard for married based on the sacrificial love of Jesus.


Ephesians 5:25






I do not look at a tree or the stars and feel compelled to love my wife. It is just a tree.


Conclusion


Looking to the creation can tell us there is a God but it can't tell us that God is good or loving. As parents and as theologians we should not pretend like these things can teach us these things. God has a whole book of how He has worked to unfold this redemptive story. We need to trust the most important part of that song. “Because the Bible tells me so.”


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