Catholics and Evangelicals: Similarities: God

We are on the second chapter of the book Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences by Norman Geisler. This chapter is on the second item of doctrine that Catholics and evangelicals have in common. This item is the doctrine of God.

We know and worship the same God, and we have a very similar view of who that God is. For a complete discussion covering the first area of doctrinal agreement go to Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Similarities: Revelation.

As Catholics and evangelicals we believe in as the Council of Toledo (A.D. 400) states:

"We believe in one true God, Father, and Son and Holy Spirit, maker of the visible and the invisible, by whom were created all things in heaven and on earth. This God alone and this Trinity alone is of divine name [divine substance]."

He exists is a statement of faith and that He can be know is a statement of experience.

The concept of a “high god” is not exclusively found in Christian doctrine, it may even be found in many primitive religions, but it is not an identical concept.

  • Plato argued for a single “supreme being”.
  • Aristotle argued for the “uncaused, cause”.
  • Aquinas developed argument for the existence of one supreme God.

Catholics like evangelicals believed these concepts about God we based “on His self-revelation in Scripture”.

God in Scripture:

Old Testament

God gradually disclosed truths about himself in Scripture.

In Genesis God revealed He created the Heavens and the earth, and dealt with our ancestors directly.

God dealt with Abraham to build a new nation Israel.

God sustained Israel and bless it.

God called Israel to be set aside for Him.

God through Moses gave Israel the Ten Commandments, further defining God’s expectations for his people.

In the Old Testament era Israel’s monotheist view of God stood alone.

New Testament

Monotheistic view of God continues.  Jesus introduces a new “very familiar” way of talking to and about God his Father. The concept of God as love is built upon further by Jesus. In the Old Testament God’s love was focused on Israel, now in the New Testament it is for everyone.

Names for God

  • El – Supreme God
  • Elohim – plural form of God “expressing the intensity, power, and majesty of God”
  • El Elyon – most High God.
  • El Shaddai – the mighty one.
  • Adonai – King.
  • Lord
  • Yahweh – He who is – self existent one

Theological Development of the concept of God

Remember what we said last time about revelation, there is both General Revelation from nature and creation and Special Revelation direct revelation from God through Scripture. These both come into play here.

Natural Knowledge of God

“God can be know with certainty by the natural light of reason from created things” Scripture says we can know God Naturally from nature, from conscience and from history. Remember this knowledge is at best imperfect because of the fall and the impact that event has had on our minds. Reason can know that God is but cannot grasp WHAT He is. We need Scripture to help us with this. We need Special Revelation.

What does Scripture tell us about God?

+ God as Trinity: Yes I know this tern is not in scripture but the concept is. God is one in nature and essence, externally revealed in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The concept of the Trinity is very important, but it is also a mystery, to be taken by faith. That is not to say there is not evidence for the Trinity, it is just to say we are to small to understand it.

  • One in Nature
  • Three in Person.
  • Nature answers the question of what.
  • Person answers the question of whom.

Misunderstanding or twisting the concept of trinity is common in cults and these ideas are considered heresies for both Catholics and evangelicals.

+ God as Creator: God created everything out of nothing. God created the world for His glory and we are because He is good. God not only created but he also preserves and sustains his creation. He did not set the whole thing motion and then go on vacation. He is still involved. Issues of the “how of creation” are open to debate. Official Catholic teaching on the matters hold that

“The first three chapters of Genesis contain narrative of real events… No myths, no mere allegories or symbols of Religious truths, no legends.”

Attributes of God

God has two types of attributes.

  • Incommunicable – only God posses.
  • Communicable – can be given to his creatures.

+ Incommunicable

  • Self existent
  • Infinite
  • Simple – undivided/undividable
  • Unicity – only one nature
  • Immutable – does not change
  • Eternal Omnipresent – everywhere
  • Omnipotent – all powerful

+ Communicable

  • Perfect
  • Truthful
  • Benevolent – good
  • Holy
  • Just
  • Merciful

Conclusion: As you can see Catholics and evangelicals have another huge area of doctrinal agreement. This is a really big deal. I hope this section has helped you first of all Get a bigger picture of God, and secondly see again how much we brother’s and sister in Christ have in common.

If you have not gotten the book yet and you still want to participate in the conversation, it is not too late. Order your book today!

This book is such a great tool for facilitating conversations and understanding between Catholics and evangelicals but, it also helps people understand their own faith better.

Next time we will be moving on to the doctrine of Human Beings.

Find the complete series here.

waynem

About waynem

As a Minnesota based photographer and artist I have been greatly influenced by the Upper Midwest. I focus my skills and energies on portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, architectural and fine art work. My best work comes from images first painted in my mind. I mull over a prospective image for weeks or months, seeing it from different angles and perspectives, then finally deciding what to capture. The result is images that deeply touch people's emotions and powerfully evoke memories and dreams. My images are used commercially by companies and organizations ranging from Financial Services firms, mom and pop Ice Cream shops and The Basilica of St Mary to communicate their shared vision and values. Book and magazine publishers have featured my images on their covers. My photographs also grace and enhance the decor of many fine homes.
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