June 30, 2023

What Is God Like?

R.C. Sproul
What Is God Like?

Everything in creation tells us something about the nature of God. Today, R.C. Sproul explains that while analogous language gives us words to describe God, this language cannot confine Him.


God is not a bright light, but there is something that light suggests that says something to me about God. And so, our language about God is built upon analogy.

I talked to a professor of philosophy last week, and he said, “Can you know anything about God from nature?” And I said, “Yes.” I said: “God reveals Himself in nature. And not only does God reveal Himself in nature, but everything in nature reveals something about God.”

And this professor was horrified by that statement. He said, “That can’t be.” And he says, “Show me something in nature that’ll tell you something about God.” And we were standing in the kitchen, and I grabbed a tea towel. And I said, “This tea towel tells you something about God.” And he says, “That’s absurd.” And he said, “What else?” I walked over to him, I said, “Your shoe.” And I took his shoe. I said, “That shoe tells you something about God, right?”

And he was getting angry. He said, “Oh, are you trying to tell me that God is a 9.5M, or that God is black and shiny, or that God has a rubber heel on Him?” I said: “No, but that shoe, first of all, it’s aesthetically pleasing. It has a dimension of form that is designed for aesthetic purposes.” And I said: “That shoe, in a certain sense, is beautiful. And in an analogous way, God is beautiful. Not only this, but this shoe is functionally useful. And everything that’s functionally useful in this universe calls attention to the order, and the harmony, and the utility that is in the mind of the Creator, who creates things for a purpose. And the fact that man has created this shoe for a purpose, in an indirect way, reveals something of the nature of God, so that even a shoe speaks of God.”

Like we read in the New Testament, you know, when the disciples were getting all excited and John the Baptist was heralding Jesus, and they told them to be quiet, and they said, “If we be quiet, the stones will cry out.” Well, the fact of the matter is, the stones have been crying out. Since the creation of the world, the stones have been crying out, revealing something about the nature of God.

And as Calvin said, we have to be able to see God in every atom of the universe. But no atom, or the collection of atoms, is God. There is simply an analogy between them. An analogy is not an identity.

That’s the crucial problem, that we have a tendency to swing between two poles: the pole of skepticism, which assumes that our language is utterly meaningless and has no reference point to God; or, we get over here, where we think of—we can call this pantheism, or we can call it triumphalism—but here on this form, we think that we have captured or contained God. We can’t do that.

Our language, at best, is language of analogy. What we can say is what God is like. But as soon as we equate whatever it is that we use to describe God with the essence of God Himself, we have committed the error of thinking that the finite has contained the infinite.