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What Makes God, God?

Updated: May 28, 2023

The Name of God

I am delighted to introduce our guest blogger, friend, and colleague, Rudolph Boshoff. He has over 23 years of dedicated experience in full-time vocational ministry. As the director of Ad Lucem Ministries, Rudolph’s passion shines through as he delves into theological trends and explores apologetic questions within African and global contexts. With a profound commitment to providing credible biblical answers, Rudolph engages in thought-provoking discussions, moderating debates alongside renowned scholars on topics ranging from Islam to comparative religions, social issues, and Christian foundations. His expertise, coupled with his BTh (Hons) as well as his ongoing pursuit of an MTh with a focus on Islam, makes Rudolph a valuable voice in our online Christian community.

In a Doxology expressed by Paul (Romans 11:33-36), he writes, “O, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and unfathomable are His ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him, and it shall be repaid to him?” For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen.”

It was Charles Spurgeon that said that the priority occupying the Christian mind is God and, “the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”[1]

When finite minds try to find some conceptual reality when studying God we know that we venture into an aspect of reflection where we cannot comprehend the fullness of the topic. David writes, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3).

There are some reasons we will always venture into aspects of mystery; there is God’s otherness[2] and His separateness that keeps us searching for the great unknown. And then there is God’s invisibility when we try to articulate what is glorious. We cannot know God as a category of being nor describe God with a classification of knowledge. However, what God reveals about Him can be intrinsically valuable in describing some essential aspects of His essence. In this, we even describe vague meanderings that can only speak of mystery or calculated descriptions in theology. Boyer and Hall warn us that when, “associating mystery simply with what is nonrational, makes the mystery of God something outside of reason, but not really something beyond reason.”[3]

There is something that all religious traditions try to articulate about God. Any form of radical transcendence makes agnostics, not believers. Vladimir Lossky writes, “Unknowability does not mean agnosticism or refusal to know God.”

The Christian claim is that there is more to rational knowledge where we are comfortable with paradox and that there is more to the Christian journey than knowing God. Lossky affirms that “knowledge will only be attained in the way which leads not to knowledge but to union.”[4]

The unique Christian claim is that we venture to point to the fact that God in some way made himself known. God forfeited ultimate mystery and chose to condescend himself, becoming incarnated in humanity. Some proximity is revealed in the claims and revelation of Jesus Christ. But that does not mean that the ultimacy of God is now fully known. There is a beautiful symmetry between the infinitude and the finitude of all of revealed existence. Reformed scholar John Frame notices this when he writes that God is “knowable and known” but “mysterious, wondrous, and incomprehensible.[5]

So, back to the question, what makes God, God? May I endeavor to say that what makes God is one-sided? God is God, in and of himself. He has to be noticeably known in himself infinitely for God to be God. Our estimations of God are not God’s definite origin because what makes God presupposes God exists in existence for existence’s sake. And that is not true. God IS. In a sense, God does not ‘exist.’ He is ‘supra dimensional’ and is above existence. He is not the God of panentheism that encompasses all or the God of deism that cannot be apprehended. He is above all as he is the cause of existence. God is the necessary precondition for the very logic to articulate and define reality; he is… he was…, and he will forever be… Nothing makes God… His answer to Moses was correct when he said, “I am who I am” (ehyeh asher ehyeh; Exodus 3:14).

Devotion can only be afforded to the idea of the One, in which we cannot articulate the eternal reality of our true origins. This deity can constitute himself and delimit himself for our sake. This deity becomes that apparent fact as He reveals himself in our lived experiences and existence. The incarnation is the reach of God beyond any notion of that which can be perceived and retards us on this side of the veil where God can only tear into the dimension we comprehend and behold. God incarnate is the necessity of all reality. Without Him, there can be no being. And without any possibility to reflect on His glory, we cannot exist as those connected to our first cause. Necessary existence demands some knowability of one’s origins. Only Biblically can we relate these notions to the One true God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Only in Him can we see God adequately known. And only He promises to disclose to us what makes God, God…. He said, “Everything has been given up to me by my Father and no man knows The Son except The Father only; also no man knows The Father except The Son only, and he to whom The Son desires to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27. Aramaic Bible in Plain English).

A God not seen is not a God at all. And a God hidden is not an acquaintance of those he calls to love. On the contrary, obedience is afforded to the love given, and any unknown reality avoids being adored in mystery. Only with the balance of the Christian fact can true theism be known. That is what makes God, God.

Notes: [1] Spurgeon, “Sermon: The Immutability of God,” The Spurgeon Center, 1855, [2] Joseph Alexander Leighton says, “God is the Absolute Idea, a circle that returns upon itself, not a straight line projected indefinitely.” [3] Steven D. Boyer and Christopher A. Hall, The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012), 10. [4] Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood: St Vladimirs Seminary, 1997), 26, 43. [5] John M. Frame, Doctrine of God, The (Phillipsburg: P&R PUblishing, 2002), 201.


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