Truth Project 4: Theology (Who is God?)

In this fourth Truth Project tour, Del shares that this is his favorite, and that he wishes he could do it first. The reason for doing it fourth is that in our culture, we need to take care of other things first. The only way that we can begin to answer the question, “Who is God?” is that he has revealed himself to us through his word.

In addition to “Who is God?”, Del looks at another question: “What is eternal life?” This he answers from John 17:1-3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” This is not just knowledge of God, but relationship with God.

Del then talks about his own journey of increasing knowledge of God through study of God’s various names. One example that he gives is El Qanna, the Hebrew word for “a jealous God.” God’s jealousy is not the same as our jealousy, however; God’s jealousy is zeal that arises when sin threatens a relationship. Names mean something, says Del. And this is what transforms us, so “should we be surprised that it is here we find the focus of the attack?” That is, God’s nature is being attacked in our culture, as well as God’s Word (i.e., the Bible). Del takes the rest of the tour to address attacks on the latter. He lists various people who have attacked the Bible, including Voltaire, Robert Ingersoll and the Jesus Seminar – which concluded that 82% of the words attributed to Jesus in the Bible were not really spoken by him.

Del’s final segment for this tour was relating a personal crisis that he had in relation to the trustworthiness of the Bible. He was looking at the dates that the kings of Israel and Judah ruled, and saw an apparent contradiction between 2 Kings 8:16 and 2 Kings 1:17. It looked like the Bible contradicted itself when it talked about the beginnings of the reigns of Joram and Jehoram. After reading a book by Edwin Thiele called The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, he concluded that the apparent contradiction was only apparent because Judah and Israel used different dating systems. He challenges his listeners to really believe that the Bible is God’s Word.

I admire Del’s willingness to tackle such a large subject in such a short amount of time. I agree with him that the only reason we can begin to know who God is is that he has chosen to reveal himself. I agree that knowledge of God is not just about intellectual knowledge, but it is about an intimate relationship. I agree with him that names mean something. I agree that God’s character and the Bible are being attacked in our culture, and that this has been going on for a long time. I liked his example of Joram and Jehoram, and I think it’s neat that studying the text in context takes away the seeming contradiction.

I was uneasy, however, at the end of this example of Joram and Jehoram, when Del concluded, “Hallelujah, you can trust the Bible.” It’s not that I don’t think the Bible can be trusted, but I worry whether, based on Del’s example, people will trust in the Bible based on their own ability to explain it. I wish that Del had used as another example a passage that Christians disagree on or are unsure about. This, it seems to me, would be an equally good teaching moment. It would show the audience that we can still trust God’s ability to speak through the Bible even if we can’t always trust our own ability to explain it precisely.

Also, I hate to bring this up again, but I chafed at the word “objective” when it was mentioned during this tour. This time, Del described relationship with God as objective. How, I wondered, could a relationship be objective? It seems that Del is trying to use “objective” as a synonym for “real,” which is confusing – and not the case.

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