The Need Of A New Conception Of God -- By: Andrew Gillies Rochester

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 076:302 (Apr 1919)
Article: The Need Of A New Conception Of God
Author: Andrew Gillies Rochester


The Need Of A New Conception Of God

Andrew Gillies Rochester

It is now quite generally agreed that Germany’s madness can be traced straight back to Germany’s apostasy. Putting the facts in terms of national life, it is said that German Kultur, with its brood of insane and piratical acts, is the legitimate offspring of German Rationalism. Or, personalizing the whole matter, it is stated that ex-Emperor William’s philosophy and conduct are alike fiendish because his god, with whom he seemed for so long to be on astonishingly familiar terms, is not the Christian God at all, but some barbaric deity. Here is another case of a man’s becoming like the Being whom he worships.

It has not yet been said that the same relation of cause and effect holds good in the case of the modern world’s conception of God and its moral and spiritual state; and yet the available facts are just as convincing. Look at the situation. The three things most frequently postulated concerning God are, first, that He is love; second, that He is our Father; third, that He is immanent in the universe of which He is the Creator. And of the three, the most frequently affirmed and the universally accepted is that He is Love. Even when men think of Him as Father, it is as the loving Father. And even when they talk of His immanence, they dwell upon the fact that He is immanent in love. The stupendous fact that God is Love has captured the imagination of Christendom.

Now, rightly interpreted and viewed in its relation to the whole body of revealed truth, that one of the eternal verities is of superlative value to mankind. “When John

wrote his copulative sentence in his first epistle, he inaugurated a new era in Christian understanding.” But right there lies the crux of the existing situation. This truth is not rightly interpreted, and it is viewed entirely apart from its relation to the whole body of truth. In that statement I am not referring to the fact that most of our modern theology is not orthodox, but to the obvious fact that the popular or prevailing idea of God is as far from the truth as is the ex-Emperor’s. “We hold in our mind conceptions of God that are not much better than the Kaiser’s.” In his discussion of “The Unity of God’s Character,” William Newton Clarke says: —

“We ascribe to God certain qualities of character, set forth in familiar terms, but when we come to define them we are under the influence of our own limitations, and however large and worthy the terms that we use, our conceptions are sure to become narrowed toward the dimensions of humanity. Naturally, if not inevitably, we bring the perfection of God down towards our own imperfections....

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