The Greatness of God
How God Is the Foundation of All Reality, Truth, Love, Goodness, Beauty, and Purpose
Dust Jacket Hardcover
With each passing day, our world seems to drift further and further away from the God of the Bible, divine creation, and Christian belief. This societal shift toward postmodernism and secularism is not a new development, however; the expanding and intensifying revolt against the biblical God and Christianity traces its roots back to the modern philosophies of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, which have given rise to many divergent views during the past three centuries, and become even more extreme in recent postmodernism.
The Greatness of God: How God Is the Foundation of All Reality, Truth, Love, Goodness, Beauty, and Purpose stands as an intellectual counterweight to the prevailing winds of a secular postmodern world. Author Charles Frank Thompson argues that the consequences of this rejection of God and divine creation have not been benign. He traces the modern revolution in detail and describes its deleterious consequences, including the loss of the ultimate basis for universal truth, knowledge, meaning, and purpose.
In The Greatness of God, Thompson explores a wide range of topics, including Christian theology, metaphysical philosophy, and an analysis of modern thought and art. He examines the rich history of Christian poetry, prose, and art and takes a look at recent scientific discoveries that help us understand Christian teachings about God’s creation. He concludes with an exploration of the millennium, the eternal kingdom of God, and the spiritual state of America and Europe today.
The Creator-Logos is the active personal, rational, and formal cause of world and cosmos. As the Logos of creation, Christ provides the archetypal ideas of creation from God the Father: through Him come the idea, reason, form, model, pattern, and unity, as well as life and purpose of the world and mankind. Without Him there would be no archetypal ideas, reason, universals, laws, causal connections, canons, models, and pat-terns—all of which were sought, praised, and emulated in different ways by ancient peoples in their arts. Without his work, cosmic order and opera¬tion would be non-existent, and nature at best would be uncreated and unreal, a flux of chaos arising from a void—as it has actually been evoked by Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre, and has increasingly been depicted in twentieth-century art from Dada and Surrealism through Sartre’s Nausea, Theater of the Absurd, novels of the absurd, and postmodern visual arts. In these ways it is Christ the creat¬ing and ordering “Logos who stands invisibly but identifiably as the true center of nature, history, ethics, philos¬ophy, and religion.”
As Son and Mediator from God the Father, Christ the Living Word acts as the formal cause of all creation, creating and sustaining in all things the form according to the idea or archetype that He has in mind. He differs from Aristotle’s formal cause, however, by being the living, personal God, and not a passive, impersonal principle contained and limited by nature. More¬over, in sharp contrast to Aristotle’s causes, He acts in fulfilling all other aspects of divine design and decrees for creation, redemp¬tion, and judgment. Christ came from His eternal Father, freely creating and ordering according to His Father’s will. Divine idea and plan preceded the creation. “In a perfect manner, everything in this world has been made according to certain ideas existing in the Mind of God from all eternity. God, being Perfect Intelli¬gence, must be, therefore, possessed of the models, ideas, or representations of all the things He wishes to call into the light of day. Every tree, every flower, every bird, every thing has had its spiritual model in the Divine Mind. . . . These ideas, which from our point of view are multiple but really are one in the Divine Mind and identical with his Being, are called Archetypal Ideas.”
Bavinck emphasizes the difference between modern meanings of the word “idea,” and its former theological-metaphysical meaning. “Formerly an ‘idea’ was considered to be the pattern of a thing in the creative mind of God.” But with the increasing prevalence through modern [and postmodern] thought of antimetaphysical, antitheological premises, it has been reinterpreted in changing human terms to merely denote a concept or notion of the human mind, the result of abstract thinking, a concept of “pure reason,” or something even less credible. Traditional Platonic and Christian theological uses of “idea” have been increasingly disparaged, attacked, and abandoned in modern thought and arts.
Bavinck writes that God “creates all things in accordance with the ideas which he himself has formed. The universe is God’s masterpiece. God is the Architect and Maker of the entire universe. He is not an unconscious Creator; on the contrary, in all his works he is guided by wisdom, by his idea. Nevertheless there are also differences between God and the human artificer. God’s ideas are absolutely original; they arise out of his own being, and are eternal and immutable; indeed, they are one with his own being. The ideas in God themselves constitute the ‘essence of God’ inasfar as this is the pattern of created things and can be expressed and reflected in finite creatures. Every creature is a revelation of the Deity, and partakes of God’s being. The character of this participation is not such that a creature is a modification of God’s being or that it has in reality received into itself the divine essence, but every creature has its own essence because in its existence it is an ectype [image, likeness] of the divine essence.”
God’s Archetypal Ideas are said by Thomas Aquinas to be present in things as “exemplars.” Fulton J. Sheen has explained that “these Divine Archetypal Ideas re¬flected in things, as well as the very rational plan of their being, are called forms, as in the mind they are called ideas (and sometimes forms). Everything in the world has its form, which is the reason for its intelligibility, and makes it what it is. A tree is a tree in virtue of its form (not external shape, but internal participation or reflection of the Archetypal Ideas) and for that reason differs from a camel which has a different form.” “Not only is God present in things as the Wisdom which planned them, but in the richness and variety of His Wisdom. Being infinite, His Wisdom reaches to the abyss of all things that are known and can be known. Quite naturally, no created thing could perfectly express the depth and variety of His knowledge, only an uncreated and single Word can express it, and that is the Logos or the Son. It was fitting that God became present by His Wisdom, not only in one thing, but in many. What one created thing failed to reveal, the other might disclose. Thus creation became like a great orchestra, with thousands of instruments blending their various notes, and yet all cooperating to produce the beautiful harmony in which Heaven and earth declare forth the Wisdom of their Omnipotent Creator.”
Charles Frank Thompson has taught art history, painting, and drawing at the university level for more than thirty-five years. Since becoming a Christian thirty years ago, conservative Christian beliefs and biblical theology have assumed the central place in his life and thought. He is also the author of The Revolt against God in Modern Thought, Literature, and Art.
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