“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, NO. 7&8 – THE EVOLUTION OF GOD
The title may be a bit off-putting to some, but it poses an interesting, and I think, important concept.
Of course, God has to be all the “all’s” about God, like “all-knowing” etc. But does the actual understanding of God evolve? The Bible would show it does.
This can be seen in the names of God, or really, the names developed to express the character and nature of God. In Gen. 1:1 the word for God is “Elohim”, which means something like “all powerful”. Surely a god who could create everything would be known as all powerful. By Gen. 2 the term “Yahweh” appears. It relates more about the salvation of God. It will have several “tags” after it to show additional characteristics of God. In Gen. 7 “El-Elyon” appears. It means something like “most high God”. In chapter 15 the word “Adonai” is used. It basically means “Lord”. In chapter 16 it is El-Roi”, or “all-seeing”. In Chapter 17 the more recognizable, “El-Shaddai” is used. In English they are all translated “God”. But each one of them shows the development of another view of who and what “God” was.
The above is not an exhaustive list of the terms or names used to define and describe God. It is to simply point out that as we see God in the Bible, we see a developing view of God. We also see the hint that they believed there were other god as well. If “El-Elyon” means “most high God” the implication is that there were other gods not quite as high. In fact, the commandment to not place any other gods before the One God indicates the idea of other gods existed. And, this was believed for centuries. Do we still believe that? Some do, but the Bible will eventually make the point there is only one God. Not one higher, or one more powerful, or more all-knowing etc., but just one. Period. A “false god” is no god, just an idea, or a superstition.
Nothing is understood outside the environment in which it exists. Which means human knowledge and understanding develops by observation and learning more about the surrounding environment. Such things as fire, the wheel, flight and so on were learned in that way. Each step led to another and another. Each generation would build upon the experience and knowledge of the past.
A good example of this is the list of “abominations” listed in the Law of Moses. If you read them you will find that most of them eventually disappeared. Why? Well, the usual explanation is that God more-or-less changed his mind, or a former covenant was replaced with a new. Why? Why wasn’t a list of things God found abominable always abominable? Why would a God-given covenant ever need to be replaced? If God is always changing his mind, how do we know when and where he will change it next?
The Bible answers that by saying there were problems with the old way of doing things. Paul would say that Christ “came in the fullness of time.” Meaning the right time. Why wasn’t it “right” before that time? Well, it would even seem the time Jesus came wasn’t right for some people. Would ten years later have really changed anything? What Paul is trying to say is that there was a need for change. God was being seen differently and Jesus was the one to make that change happen. This can be seen in relationship to the Gentiles. Why is it so easy for Paul to cross that line and bring the Gentiles into fellowship with the One God? We can see there were others ready for this “gospel” by looking at the book of Acts. And we can also see the resistance by those who can’t see beyond the end of their tradition, which was all, by the way, backed up by scripture and its interpretation.
You will notice that as I wrote I used “he” in reference to God. Why is a spirit called a “he”? Is God of the male gender? Does God have gender? No. But because in the evolution of time, the male of the human species has been seen as dominate. It’s almost redundant to even say it because it is so well known. It would seem from the beginning this was so. Was there ever a matriarchal society? Some have said, but if so it is certainly an exception.
This dominance led to thinking that the female was somehow inferior to the male. Sadly, this is still believed by many men, even in these modern times. (As I typed that line I thought about how in the future our “modern’ time will be seen as ancient; and that is as it should be.) However, people who looked at the world around them began to see something was wrong with treating women inferior, no matter how many scriptures and edicts were quoted to prove otherwise. That kind of thinking just didn’t fit the evidence in the world around them. While there are still those who resist that change in understanding, both in religion and otherwise, it is coming, even if not fast enough.
The same can be said about who should be treated inferior and therefore be enslaved to serve the superior. Are some humans superior to others simply because of their origin and ethnicity? There some both here and abroad who think so.
It is not that God changes as it is that as humanity continues to advance, our understanding of God changes. I know that has been denied most of my young church-going life, and still is by some. But if we look, especially in the area of science, we can see the often conflict between scientific discovery and religious thinking. The earth was flat for centuries, and the Bible included that belief. God was seen as above the “heavens”. The idea of infinity was beyond belief. The earth had “ends”. We still say “The sun comes up”, but not really. The sun doesn’t move.
Are there constants? Yes. As Paul said, “Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.” There are human issues that are deeply rooted in a former understanding that observation and experience will no longer accept. Such change is not easy. But think how the world would be different if every decision, every change, every understanding, would have something of those three things Paul mentioned included in them.
CONCERNS: Philip Pierce’s mother has started cancer treatment. Ruby Stahl, the mother of Alan Beach’s sister-in-law is receiving cancer treatment, also, Joni’s cousin, Stephanie Rigney, is starting treatment for lymphoma. Joni’s aunt, Marge Greenwood, is completing treatment for cancer. Regan, the ten year old nephew of a coworker of Erma Williams, and these others are in cancer treatment: Deena McRoy, Nick Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s brother, Keith Wagner’s brother, Walter, Joni Beach’s mother, Sharon and Billy, friends of Del Bolin. Jim Hunter is now in remission after cancer treatment. Those seeking employment are Sam and Melissa. Remember also Martha Foy’s parents, Ray Reiss, Betty Billings, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder, and the Tucker family in the sudden death of daughter.
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 18-23
Monday: Isaiah 53:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 28:1-20
Wednesday: Ezekiel 34:1-16
Thursday: Acts 21:37-22:16
Friday: Psalm 14:1-7
Saturday: Revelation 20:11-21:9
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 25-MAR. 2
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 23
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
Our sympathy is extended to Sheila and Ben Robertson in the death of Sheila’s mother, Dorothy Kirk, of Hughson, CA She died on Saturday, February 9th. The funeral was last Thursday.
Sheila and Ben will be taking some vacation time while in California and will return here in March.
FOR YOUR DIRECTORY
Megan and James Downing are getting settled in their new home just outside of Salem. Their address is 1305 Kings Crest Dr. Salem, VA 21153. Their main phones are their cell phones. Megan’s is 540-521-0260, and James’ is 540-525-0402.
We have received a thank you card from Joanne Elder in regard to our help in putting a new roof on her house. In part she writes; “Thank you to the Roanoke Church of Christ for everything. Thank you for the help and showing me our God is truly an awesome God. Only God knows how deeply your thoughtfulness has touched and strengthened my spirit and soul.”
Joanne then wrote a very lovely, longer note. You should stop by and take the time to read it all.It is on the downstairs bulletin board.
Today, February 17, is Super Sunday. If you are a visitor that means we will have a fellowship meal in the annex following the service. Please be our guest.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
There will be a brief steering committee meeting in the library following the Super Sunday meal.
Due to the need for extra parking in the handicapped zone, we will offer valet parking to anyone who is unable to find a place to park. If you find the lot full, return to the lower parking lot and someone will ride up with you and return your car to the main parking lot. After the service they will bring your car back to the handicapped area for you.
For those of you who do find a spot, try to leave enough room for a “drop-off” area. As of now the Branch family has volunteered to serve in the capacity.