Theology Ditty 11: “How is Our Understanding of God Related to History?”

Ditty 10 is lost right now – hoping to restore it when/if I find the paper copy!

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We understand God because we have experienced Him in relationship. In colloquial terms, we have history. The Bible is the record of God’s history with Israel and the early church. Tradition is the reckoning of His dealings and leadings with the later generations of the church. The experiential clothing of the basic doctrines as applied to our lives is the result of our personal history with God.

Beginning at Sinai (maybe before that at the burning bush), God initiated a relationship with Israel through miraculous signs and His words communicated through the prophets. As they cycled between obedience to and outright rejection of his revelation, He continued to interact with them and in doing so taught them and us about Himself and His desires for humanity. Culminating in the early church and the apostles, God completed the authoritative record of His direct dealings with mankind, though He has not stopped acting in human society and history.

Once the Scriptures were adopted as canonical, God began what might seem to be a more indirect path of revelation. As the Church Fathers and ecumenical councils struggled with the implications of the Gospel and the logical underpinnings of doctrine to the biblical narrative, God through their discussions, debates, and disagreements continued to reveal the truth of His plan and His character. As tradition took center stage and trumped God’s word as authority, God worked in the hearts of many to reform His church and return to the purity of biblical faith. As human society and knowledge has advanced, God continues to reveal Himself afresh to each generation in its terms and to its need through His modern-day messengers, the ministers.

More narrowly, I and you understand how God is by what He has done with and through us. As we realize our need for a Savior, we find a Creator and a Lord beyond our belief and naive hopes. Along the path of growth and Christian maturity, we find a Friend and Comforter who is more than willing to rebuke us to shape us in His image. In dark days and hard times, we find a Rock and a Shelter whose love is the strongest of nets to catch us. In all things, throughout all generations, God has worked to make Himself known through our history.

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