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1. The Knowledge of God in Nature

Ed Zinke

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Ed Zinke

Adventist theologian and businessman

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Conference

Recorded

  • February 7, 2018
    8:45 AM
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So it's really good to be with you I've been looking forward to this offer to do for a long time. What I'm going to be going through today there will be things from technical to fairly easy the technical if you just capture the overall picture I don't care if you remember the details or not but the overall picture hopefully will be informative. Part I'm going to be kind of sharing my experience I was educated totally within the Seventh Avenues church through a Master of Divinity that enters and then and may it enters and then went to Catholic University to work on a doctorate when I got to Catholic University I discovered that my manner of thinking was not that much different from their manner of thinking now the doctrines of course were very different but the way we thought was very similar I was quite shocking to me on a. Share that with you and fortunately we have Ellen White. She led me back to scripture and I discovered that my way of thinking was humanistic instead of biblically orientated and I suspect the. I'm not alone in that kind of experience in fact I've discovered as I've gone around the world. It's fairly common to have been taught to think within the contemporary culture that you live in and not recognise that the manner of thinking is not necessarily a building cool manner of thinking and so I want to start with a few tools to to try to get our thinking process going here so that we can try to understand some of the materials that are coming later but. See someone with a smile here. Tell me about the artist of this piece of art. OK very detailed. Like a word OK. So cultural expression. Probably OK here's are good OK because we started with hers so OK those are her hand tools anyone else. Something to impress them. Her It is Biden. You see. America. OK now we have a lot to go over today I would enjoy working a little bit longer. On this particular illustration but let me ask you how many of you feel like you know the artist by discussing the piece of art. If you crossed. Out here. You would know I'm OK with him or her now you know we said he likes word the wood carver uses and likely it's a cultural expression so we know something about the artist but we don't know the artist. So if we wanted to know the artist what would we do. Pardon. The spend time with him or her OK just so we would we could send him or her a taker and you could come and address this group and tell us about Himself we could you know have lunch together and so on and so forth or we could. Give you a ticket and you could go and get acquainted with the artist and you could come back and tell us about the artist OK but by just looking at the piece of art we don't know the artist. We know characteristics about the artist but we don't know the artist him or herself. OK now I've got a much easier illustration. Tell me about the artist of the flowers. Very color for full so he or she or whatever likes color OK. OK So you want to tell us it's God. Loves the details. And the deeper we get into this the more detail will discover some fantastic detail us. New Woman would love that. Particularly when it gets close to Valentine's Day. OK. MARTIN. OK OK. Very good oh that's a good point. Appreciation for this. OK not purely functional. But. Yes. Oh the artist Well now that might be somebody else. Somebody is popping the leaves and. Keeping it in order. OK. The artist likes life for. It to be enjoyed by a variety of human senses. Pretty and has the power to create live OK OK So we've talked about. Enjoyment of of the color. Appealing to the census appealing particularly to the two women. Fine need to. Bring in some things from other groups you know kind of an architect an engineer. He loves the beautiful loves us because he's given us such beautiful things the crater of life the sustainer of life and of course again if we had time we could go on and on and on. Describing the the the artist now I'd like you to tell me about the artist of this piece of art. Who just the Creator the giver of life the sustainer of life loves the beautiful. Appealing to women. The designer master designer architect. What do we know about the artist by looking at the piece of art pardon. Me Yeah well can you really separate this piece from this piece of. Time. There is death so this artist this is the sort of sustain or the differences STAYNER of life of a sudden we're discovering there is death was part of. OK. OK. OK So there are other factors that come into play here very good. That. We need more context. OK. This. First one here. And that was kind of the stroke of a lark but it was the only way to get a working that way in time. Because if it was just simply in its natural state what would it eventually do for the world. Puzzles would draw Yes. OK given that thing that looks good is beautiful OK Alison was let's say you'd never touched the Bible or were just looking object of Lee at this piece of art. We are going to assume that there was a God that's responsible for this which is an assumption. OK what can we say about God by looking at the piece of art. Pardon. OK requires more context for us to understand it OK but just looking at the piece of art without that context. The great teacher. He's got a problem OK. It is fading. OK So could we say that there are a bunch of good gods and a bunch of bad gods is that a possibility by looking at the flowers. OK that's a possibility and so you better get on the side of these gods here otherwise you're going to look like this. And we might you know this maybe looks OK when it's dried but we may not look quite so good when we're dried just go take a look at the thing but OK So many gods are we could say there is one God there are two gods a good God and a bad God is that a possibility. Can we say that. Somehow the universe can create within itself. So that a possible. Yeah I mean we can't rule that out that's a possibility. OK but then can we say that God created and then went to some other part of the universe and really doesn't care what happens down here right now. That's a possibility Deus of taken. Route. Or we can take the Biblical perspective. The God created wonderful and good in the center is responsible for this but we can't tell the difference simply by looking at the piece of art now not us. We have we were able to talk about characteristics. Of this artist. But we don't know the artist himself or herself that we were able to talk about characteristics about God but we don't really know. Him or her self or even if there is a God The agnostic works at this. And says. You mean God can create the eye of the eagle so it can see the mouse a mile down and go down and fetch it. He created us with all of our wonderful capabilities and we have woods and Doc out I'm not interested I don't know whether God exists or not but I'm not interested in that kind of a God I take my train ticket back I'm not going to get on that train I'm going to let it go on its way and I'm going to live apart from it. And so. Actually the argument of design which of course is really what we were doing here the argument of design. Didn't tell us wonderful things about God. And indeed there are wonderful things to know about God and the argument of design is helpful but the argument of design has a two edged sword it can go the other direction as well and if you want to know why we have agnosticism in Europe that's one of the reasons the argument of design if God is a designer if he can do these beautiful things how do I can account for this. And so how is it that it's possible for us to know God. Move on to the next slide. And the next slide. And the next slide and I'm wondering if it would be the right one. Fortunately I haven't. So. I must have gotten the title mixed up well. This one. So the next shot would have been a shot of the tsunami tsunami. Tearing through trues turning cars over so on and so forth oh OK. Oh. So maybe we just have the back on the wrong one the knowledge of the knowledge of God Yes appreciate the. Snow. We're face so. The Problem of Evil has distorted our view of God by looking at the natural world now. Catholic University Of course natural theology is a major thing natural theology means you can start with the natural world and you can argue to the point that you can finally talk about God and sense the natural world is common to all of us that provides a good foundation for the ology. And. Catholics of course have been working on this for two thousand years. So they of perfected the art so to say and one of my professors at the in the very last thing in the class he said we have become so smart. That we can raise the question of God but we cannot answer that question and of course we're going to add scriptures so we know about God but just looking at the last natural world looking at the last of the. Incredibly complex philosophies and they can raise the question of God Does God exist but they can't answer that question now for natural theology. OK very good there we are so. For natural theology. People often turn to Romans one eighteen and on so let's go to the next slide by the way I'm glad I'm not in that picture OK let's go to the next slide. So Romans one let's see what it says about what we can know about God in the natural world OK for an audition. I think we've skipped a couple. Can you go back. Some. Go back a little bit further. OK for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth and righteousness because what may be known of God is valid first in them for God has. Shown it to them for since the creation of the world his thoughts and those of allowed to attributes. Are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made even his eternal power in God. OK So can we know something about God in the natural world OK we can know his wrath. Is invisible attributes his eternal power and Godhead. So that arcs light I think will summarize that. Let's try them out so we can know the track wrath of God as a troll power is there to his god. So. Now it's interesting to me that theologians by the way it's not just Roman Catholic theologians that think we can start with the natural world that's great thank you. Thank you. Because not just Roman Catholic theologians that feel we can do a natural theology you find those theologians and almost every denomination including in the some of the in this church. So we aren't just simply shooting a. Roman Catholics here we're really talking about theology in general they simply have the longest history working on this but what's interesting to me is that those who talk about what we can know of God of the natural world start with Romans one eighteen. And they know but never go back to Romans one sixteen. Now isn't context important in studying the Bible. OK So let's go back to. Romans one sixteen. My doing here. OK. For I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for him it is the what. OK power of God and to salvation for everyone who believes for the Jew first and for the grief for it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith Notice the right to the righteousness of God as was. Revealed from faith to faith as it is written but just search shall live by. OK so what may be known of the. In the gospel. Power of God and righteousness and that not only the power of God the power of God and to salvation OK so a personal God loving God that desires to to bring salvation to us and the righteousness of God So tell me. Which would you prefer to know. Now. Theologians that will then go to song nineteen and say Will song nineteen says we can start with the natural world the heavens declare the glory of God from His handiwork. And so. Even though maybe Romans one doesn't from song nineteen does well let's take a closer look the word for God in song nineteen one to six is. Well is generally. Like you're a man we don't know your name we don't know in your person you're a man generic OK So God generic Now the last part of the song talks about what we can know about God and His law and in His Word and the word for God There is yeah. That's the personal god that's the God that bends over Adam and breeze into his nostrils the breath of life. And so you see the difference again we know it we can know characteristics about God we can know God generically and the natural world but is when God reveals Himself that we can truly know him that's why and John you know we have this wonderful introduction in the beginning was the word words with God The Word was God The Word became what wash and dwelt among us so that was. So that we could know the father OK so so God came personally of course he also revealed himself to the prophets just like if we've given you a ticket to go and. Get acquainted with the artist here and you came back so the prophets came and relayed the Word of God to us so that we could know God. So the ancient philosophers. Prided themselves on their superior knowledge. Fessing themselves to be wise to change the truth of God into a law. And worshiped and serve the creature more than the Creator. And we saw that you know we could represent Ali theism by looking at the natural world and finally serve the creature more than the creator and that's human wisdom the world cannot know God. In its human was in the world might know God is categorical isn't it and it's human was in the world cannot know God it's why he's going down there an imperfect knowledge of God from His created works and in their foolishness their nature and the laws of nature above they choose God So we go out and we analyze the natural world we create a god that fits what we think we see in the natural world and we bow down and we worship God you know Isaiah talks about. Wood lying God out of wood and trying to figure it out so it won't topple. After we've done the woodenly OK so those who have not the knowledge of God through any substance so the revelation that is made of him self in Christ will taint only. Imperfect knowledge of human nature and this no knowledge so far from bringing the whole being into conformity to His Will might make them I doctors. Will make them dollars OK. It is impossible to gain a perfect knowledge I won't go through all of this but the end. We can know God is a personal God because Jesus Christ has come but man to man is on a good reason nature is teaching His cannot be but contradictory and disappointing only in the light of revelation and can it be read right through faith we understand. Now even. Adam and Eve were dependent upon a revelation of God to know who God was suppose they woke up one morning. And they said Who are we. Where did we come from. Why are we here what are we supposed to do you know what what's life all about God was there that very evening to worship with them and to tell them about himself. Now son brought an additional element sin distorted God's God's image in the natural world and so made it more difficult for us to understand God in the natural world major teach the lessons of the great marvelous love of God Notice the love of God we can know something generic about God but we cannot know the love of God by the natural world so in addition to this facts of sentiment natural world this also affected our mind which makes it again more difficult for us to understand God so it turned out of himself interpret major without placing it above God. Sent has obscured his vision so from a human standpoint the task of obtaining knowledge of God is hopeless for men does not have available within himself the necessary tools by which to ascertain the nature of God and you know when you think of it it's not just for God is it it's for other humans as well if we don't reveal ourselves to each other you know can we really truly know each other how often we sit back and look at the way a person smiles or from zur the way they should. Their head or whatever and we get a picture of who they are and then we get acquired what them and they're exactly opposite of what they felt the what we felt they were so so in First Corinthians Chapter two Paul says that just as we must reveal ourselves to each other for to have knowledge of each other so God reveals Himself to us so it is possible for us to have knowledge of very insightful passage that psychology finally caught up with about seventy years ago so. If we can't know God in the natural world are we kind of like joking you discover the depths of God and you discover the limits of the all mighty I'm going to go move ahead just for time here for my thoughts and your thoughts here your ways are not my ways so the Lord has the heavens are higher than the Earth or my ways higher than your ways to whom will you liken me we were trying to liken God to something else right we were tired of trying to liken God to the designer. Like in God to the lover that gives the flowers life and God to the engineer and so on and so forth OK so to whom will you like a mayor who shall be his equals as the Holy One of those role all the drops of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out of a sense I mean we weren't judging in the negative sense but we were judging in the sense of trust of discovery. In and says his ways are past finding out for who has known the mind of the Lord who has become his counselor who is first given to him and it shall be repaid so needed by searching the recesses of the earth nor in vain endeavor to penetrate the mysteries of God's being his wisdom to be found it is found and what I'm going to receiving the revelation of His please give us so the secret things belong to the Lord our God with the things revealed belong to us and our sons for ever that we've been observe all the works of the law for he who forms the mountains and creates the wind declares his thoughts to us we were trying to guess his thoughts he declares his thoughts to us. I've been using this illustration for years and about two years ago I discovered this quotation here and was quite amazed to see what Alan Weiss says God's handiwork in nature is not God Himself in nature there are existing skill of human beings produces very beautiful workmanship things that the light the eye and these things reveal to us something of a part of the designer but the thing made is not the maker it is not the work but the workman that is counted worthy of honor so well nature is an expression of God's law it is not nature but the God of nature that is to be exalted so in the there are characteristics about God that we can learn in the natural world but it's when God reveals Himself to us that we can know Him Now up until the time that I went to Catholic University. I thought the most theological arguments for exegetical are humans you know in this text we think says in this text we think so as this and somebody else says no it says this is all that and so there you know that's how you count for how many Protestant churches you read thousands hundreds of thousands whatever OK when I went to Catholic University I discovered. It's true there are acts of judical arguments and question about but the primary thing that differentiates us is philosophy fact Pope John Paul the second said that Roman Catholicism is a synthesis between Greek thinking and Christian thinking. And he was very proud of that you know taking the best of Greek culture and taking the best of Christian culture and synthesizing the two together when we have a different philosophy we see things differ. Unless like changing your glasses you know instead of clear Gus's I have orange colored glasses or red or blue in the world is different when I see it through those glasses and so the philosophical position from which we start determines what we see in nature and well in nature but also what we see in scripture to a large extent and so part of what we will be talking about today is how to think the public way how to use the biblical philosophical system instead of a humanistic philosophical system. This media was brought to you by audio first a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.

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