Word Magazine May 1959 Page 11-12
WHAT IS GOD?
By Ronald Fadel Isaac
In the present time of turmoil and unrest many of us are confronted with children of bitterness, doubt and radicalism. These same individuals have been referred to in studies by different names through the ages. Despite the passing time and the difficult titles, these people are the same today as they were at the time of Christ. The only difference lies in the fact that today there are greater numbers of them and we are forced by the fabric of our society, to encounter and diplomatically contend with relativists and agnostics.
In spite of the fact that most of us have been taught, and rightly so, not to discuss religion or faith in order to avoid unpleasantness among different peoples, there are some questions which cannot be avoided; questions which must be answered within ourselves and to other people.
I’m certain most of us have at one time or another thought profoundly about God. Young people especially, with a searching mind, have asked themselves “What is God.’’ Surely this is a normal action of man and therefore the agnostic is as justified in asking you this question as you are in asking yourself.
Being good Orthodox Christians, we would immediately answer that God is the Creator of the universe. Creator of man, Father of our Savior, Creator of moral law and Giver of eternal life. Such an answer, however, would hardly satisfy a non-believer and many times is not fully satisfying to ourselves, despite its veracity. Therefore deeper searching is undertaken for self satisfaction and for effectively showing others that we truly are not blind unthinking believers.
Each man’s answer undoubtedly differs from another’s. In the saint accord some of us have answered the question to our own satisfaction and have proven to certain people that we certainly have great cause for our faith. For these men and women my words are not elucidating, but for those who have not found an answer, possibly my explanation will provide a method of approach for solution. I doubt whether my definition of God will become the reader’s: on the contrary, it will undoubtedly show that each man’s explanation is as good as the other’s and that it is possible for everyone to think about the mystery of God and by intelligent consideration provide himself with a reassuring answer. Thus I offer my line of thought and answer in hope that it will lead others to a consideration of the question and eventually to an answer which will provide strength for every God fearing man.
The Bible says that God created man in His own image, yet He is not corporal, so how are we to interpret this? Let us assume for the following discussion that these words of the Bible mean in essence that God created man in His own manner in order to see His image. If we consider the latter, two questions arise and are pertinent. The first being, “What is the manner of God?” and the second being, “What does the image of God look like?” The second question, naturally, is unanswerable until after death but the first gives rise to an enlightening discussion. The manner of God isn’t really difficult to describe since the Bible has passage upon passage concerned with His actions. He created the universe, the earth, man, heaven, evil, a moral code and justice. All these things are nothing more than an issuing forth of truths. All phenomena for all time are truths. With every creation God gave forth a new truth but all mysteries are known unto Him only.
The manner of God is also great in love. He loves all the world. He loved man that He preserved his species from the flood waters. He so loved man that He gave His only begotten Son that through Him we may find life everlasting. He loves the devout and their love for each other. With these considerations of God let me now turn to the nature and manner of man.
An interesting correlation exists between man and God in that man; in his entire lift time he is concerned with truths and love. The first tears he sheds at birth are the truth of Adam’s original sin. As man grows his mind constantly seeks explanations. “Why is the grass green? Why is the sky blue? What makes the stars shine? What is life? What is death? What is God?” Questions such as these are an integral part of his daily development and man by the very nature of his composition seeks truths with the same fervor as he would food with which to survive. If he didn’t search, his existence would be useless. Many of these questions which are raised by man can be answered by himself, but others, despite our longevity, can never be answered. Science has given us, for example, the truth concerning the composition of life. We know that the smallest unit of life, protoplasm, is composed of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen in exacting quantities in relation to each other. Yet with this seemingly vast knowledge no man can, or ever will, create life through science. Moreover, man knows a great deal about the universe. He knows how far the most distant visible star is from our planet. But he cannot say what is beyond that star or if one even exists. These are truths unknown to him.
As the growing minds of men concern themselves with the discovery of truths so also is man concerned daily with love. He grows to know the love of a mother, father, brother, sister and others close to him. He experiences love of friendship, love of God, love of the church and His wonders. Every man when admiring a flower, tree or any pleasure of nature is experiencing a type of love. Early in life some men discover love of a woman and love of a wife. All mortals know the love and desire of a goal or ambition at one time or another in their lives.
Thus the reader with no great difficulty can readily see that man by his very nature seeks truths and discovers love during the course of his life up until the moment of death. In the end, every mortal discovers the truth of death and thereafter heaven or hell according to his merits in life. If to heaven, then the soul of man shall see God; and if to hell, he shall be denied this supreme vision. If a man’s soul goes to heaven he will see God and having seen God he shall know all the mysteries of the universe. Since man by his very nature seeks truths and knows love in life; after death there remains but to know the truth of God’s vision. The greatest agony would be the inability to see the supreme vision, thus hell. There can never be peace, comfort or satisfaction without knowing God which accounts for hell in my mind. Those however who in life, follow His creed shall have their souls rewarded by knowing God’s love and seeing His vision.
I have theorized that once man has seen God he shall know all things for time, thereby satisfying the quest of his soul in life and death. It logically follows in my mind that the definition of God is as follows: God is the epitome of truth and love. Once man, after death, knows all truths of the universe and experiences the compassion and love of God; he shall have seen Him and shall have climaxed the course which his mortal life typifies.