As a Christian it is foundational, I believe, to hold to absolutes. For example; a Christian should have absolutes about Gods ontology (the principle of being), absolutes about theology (the study of God), absolutes about Christology (the study of Christ) and absolutes about pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit). Each of the foregoing absolutes, I believe, impact upon how one constructs a world view and how one considers the wider implications of Gods kingdom work; hence, why I have titled this collection of essays Without absolutes, God is not God.
I guess the reader will be asking him or herself why is there a requirement to hold to absolutes. The need for absolutes is not complex. In reality the argument determines whether one is a believer or non-believer in the triune God. A believer will weigh whether God revelationally speaks into this world generally and specifically. A non-believer will object to such a proposition and as a consequence leave him or herself open to other belief systems. To perhaps put it another way a non-believer is faced with the choice of deciding whether God is a reality or whether God is a creation of human imagination.
Decision making, then, is crucial when accepting the triune God and his work. Does one make a decision to believe in God empirically or does one make a decision to believe in God from a position of faith? It is my view that God cannot be known empirically (i.e. by trial or experience) but rather he can only be known by faith. However, it depends on how we define faith. Those who accept other belief systems would argue that they too have a faith or a belief in some god or person. In the Christian context, however, faith is an action based on the accepted evidence. In other words if one accepts that the written word of God is substantially true (2 Peter 1:20-21)and that the Word of God (Jesus of Nazareth) is who he is recorded as being or is who he claims to be (John 1:1-5; 14:6-7) then faith is given substance. But I would go further and argue that authentic faith is derived from a spiritual encounter with God which then enables the recipients faith response to be one which is prompted or ignited by God. My argument is supported from Scripture (1 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 2:8-9) and from personal experience. Both of the foregoing references I suggest argue that faith is a gift which has its origin in God. Hence, faith is not only prompted by God but also sustained by him. The analysis of such faith is that it is revelatory and constitutes an utter reliance on who God is and why he exists. Revelatory Faith Evangelicals argue that faith is a gift from God. However, this argument is treated with caution by others. Existentialism suggests that faith is made possible and so granted, by the gracious approach and self-disclosure of being . Interestingly, at this point, there is no great variance between the latter perspective and Martin Luther who argued that faith originates with, or is at least aroused, by God. Contemplating the third article of the Apostles Creed, he wrote: I believe that I cannot of my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. Modernists, also argue that faith constitutes a persons response, but only after having been drawn to Gods work of salvation. This argument suggests faith to be an a priori act of God, an act that prompts recognition that in the Christ, God is endeavouring to share his own life. This arousal of faith, then, affects worship, praise and prayer and the practise of Christian discipleship. The same argument suggests, further, that the prior love of God and the response of love that it generates are what shape a persons Christian faith. Biblical support for these theological reflections is found in Ephesians