The Visible Reveals the Invisible
The invisible God created the visible universe (Hebrews 11:3) and that visible universe reveals the invisible God and other things that are “self-evident.” We see this in two assertions.
The first claim is found in Romans 1: 18-23,where the Apostle Paul writes:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.
There are five things to note here. First, God has revealed himself in two ways through his work of creation: 1) “In them”: God has made us in his image; when we look at our propensity to love, make moral motions, be creative, and solve problems, we can know that we are more than mere animals. 2) “The things that are made”: this is the rest of creation, outside of man. Their design reveals the Designer, their artistry and beauty reveal the First Artist.
Third, what happens to each human being that is confronted by this self-evident truth? They can know of the existence of God from the things he has made. In this knowing about God, they can either bow before their God and Creator or they can deny the obvious. If they choose the latter, this act of denial has four dimensions: 1) They are not glorifying him as God; 2) they are not thankful to him for who he is in his existence and being, for the creation he made, and the life he gave them; 3) their minds become vain and empty; and 4) their hearts become dark, hard, lifeless.
Fourth, while denying the One who created them, human beings nevertheless found they were made for worship. Given man’s (self-evident) need to worship, he replaced the living God with 1) pagan humanistic worship – he worshiped “corruptible man,” or 2) pagan animistic worship – he worshiped nature. We see the former expressed in the post-Christian West through secular humanism. The latter is demonstrated in the ancient animistic cultures of the developing world, and in the post-modern West in the increasing neo-paganism.
Fifth, how was this done? By suppressing the truth! God’s truth is self-evident. Anyone who acts against the truth must intentionally ignore or more consciously beat it down. They suppressed, hold down, concealed and covered up what God had made clear.
Sixth, because ideas and actions have consequences we find that as people suppress that which is self-evident, they are without excuse.
In his remarkable book, The Evidential Power of Beauty: Theology and Beauty Meet, Catholic Friar Thomas Dubay describes what happens when people exchange the truth for a lie. Dubay quotes from one of the characters in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov : “to live without God is nothing but torture . . . Man cannot live without kneeling . . . If he rejects God, he kneels before an idol of wood or of gold or an imaginary one . . . They are all idolaters and not atheists. That’s what they ought to be called.”
What stands in the way of our worship of the Creator God? One word: pride! Pride keeps us from bowing the knee before the living God. To worship the living God demands humility.
Again, Friar Dubay captures this when he writes: “Wonder at reality demands the humility to sit at the foot of a dandelion. The proud are so full of themselves that there is little room to marvel at anything else. Saints are typically awestruck at an insect, a flower, a star because they are burning with love and rooted in a perceiving honesty. That is, they are humble.”
Human beings are “created equal,” in the image of God. This is a self-evident truth. When people deny this truth, they are unrestrained to build cultures around “lies” like sexism, tribalism, racism, and casteism.
… to be continued
– Darrow Miller
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