How do we know that God exists?
This week see’s us start part 2 of Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology. So far we’ve covered The Doctrines of the Word of God. And now, we are looking at the Doctrines of God.
My mentor once told me, systematic theology studies are usually divided over what to look at first. God or the Bible. It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg. Theology is, by definition, the study of God. So intuitively we may assume the Doctrine of God should be studied first. However, since Systematic Theology is our knowledge about God as defined by the whole of scripture, it is important that we establish what Scripture claims for itself first.
In short, it doesn’t really matter, and there is a lot of overlap.
Reading chapter 9, felt a little like re-visiting my RE classes back in secondary school.
Wayne Grudem outlines four main approaches to believing God’s existence.
1) Our inner sense of God (which is intensified by the Holy Spirit for Christians, and alluded to in Scripture – see Romans 1:19,21,25)
2) The Evidence of God in Scripture and Nature (we are told the heavens declare God’s glory, that the seasons of fruitfulness demonstrate His mercy – see Acts 14:17 & Psalm 19:1)
3) The Traditional proofs – these were covered for most students in Religious Studies classes at school. A quick google search will find good elaborations on them. (Sorry I don’t have time now to re-hash them!) They included the Comological Argument (First Cause), Teleological Argument (Intelligent Design), Ontological Argument (The “Greatest” thing must be real in order to be the “greatest”) and the Moral Argument (see point 1).
Interestingly, Grudem concedes that these traditional arguments are true whether we are convinced by them or not. But that, they themselves, cannot bring to saving faith the lost. This is because of the Doctrine of the Sufficiency and Necessity of Scripture.
4) Finally, we are told that only God can overcome our sin (which blinds us) and enable us to be persuaded by His existence. 1 Corinthians 1:21 reminds us that human wisdom is inadequate, we are dependent on Him to bring us life.
Please see my notes below: