The Traditional View


This view of God has its roots in the depictions of God in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament scriptures. With the rise of writing on theology a more clear and developed quest for a doctrine of God began. In the year 177 CE Athenagoras of Athens wrote a document to the Roman emperors about the Christian God. He stated, " So we are not atheists, in that we acknowledge one God, who is uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, and without limit."1 The view of God was of an almighty and perfect being that was utterly perfect in and of Himself. (More gender inclusive terms for God are overall a more modern installation; however, I will try and make changes where appropriate.)

It was not only that God was a perfect being; this perfect being was also the root of all things that went on in the world. The God of this view had the power to chart the course of all existence and was the cause of all things. There existed nothing that could challenge the awesome power of God. As the theologian John Owen wrote, " Nothing would be continued in its place, course, use, without his (Godís) effectual influence and countenance."2 God in this view does not require assent from humans or the rest of the world in order to enact a change or chose the course that the world will follow. God exists as the commanding influence on the world, not a negotiator with the world.

This view also accepts the power over the course of human affairs that is identified with God in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. For example, in Exodus 3:8 it states, "...I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land..."3 This conception intimately ties God in with the affairs of human beings. More specifically, it puts God at the root of the course of history; God is the force behind war and liberation. Other examples of this view can be found throughout The Bible, such as Isaiah 34:2, Daniel 1:2, and Revelation 1:1-2.

In this traditional view the limits of human choice exist within the boundaries that God has established. For many the idea that the path for the world was predetermined fit well with their conception of God. Others chose to give slightly more weight to the freedom of human beings; however, this freedom never supplanted the power of God to make decisions for the world. The interpretation of this view for everyday life has always been difficult, as one cannot often see God directly influencing human affairs. Therefore, many other views of God and human choice have developed that critique certain perspectives of this traditional view.

1 McGrath, Alister E. (ed.), The Christian Theology Reader: Second Edition (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001) 172.

2 McGrath, 212.