By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
THE Divine authority of the Scriptures having been established, we will next examine them in reference to the doctrines they contain.
The doctrine which the first sentence of the Bible unfolds is, that THERE IS A GOD, THE CREATOR of all things. Gen. 1:1. The belief of this doctrine is the first and FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE of all true religion, and therefore demands our earliest consideration. Heb. 11:6.
The inspired writers ASSUME THIS DOCTRINE as a truth known and admitted. Hence they do not enter into any formal proof of it. (61. With what purpose should we next examine the scriptures? What doctrine is first taught? Do the inspired writers enter into any formality in teaching this doctrine? Why?)
The existence of God is proved by OUR OWN EXISTENCE, and the existence of what is seen around us, as well as from what the Scriptures declare.
All things which are seen BEGAN TO EXIST. Now, they either created themselves, came into existence by mere chance, or were created by some other being.
But SELF-CREATION is a contradiction, for it supposes that a being can act before it exists, or that an effect is the cause of itself. Hence to write matter with a capital M and call it God relieves no difficulty, while it raises many.
CREATION BY CHANCE is absurd; for to say that a thing is produced, and yet that there is no cause of its production, is to say that something is effected when it is effected by nothing; that is, not effected at all.
All things, then, which do appear, must have been created by some other Being-THAT BEING IS GOD. Gen. 1:1; Acts 14:15; 17:24; Heb. 3:4; 11:3.
The DESIGN, also, discoverable in the constitution, harmony, and government of the visible universe, proves the being of God. (62. How is the existence of God proved, aside from the Scriptures? What is said of that existence? Of self creation? Of creation by chance? What then? What of design?)
The marks of design are too obvious to be denied. Design implies a designer; and the designer must exist prior to the things designed. THIS DESIGNER IS CALLED GOD.
If the modern theory of the EVOLUTION of men and animals from some germ were true, there must be a Creator of this germ. Evolution implies an Evolver. THIS MUST BE GOD.
Hence the WORKS OF CREATION prove the existence of God. Ps. 19:1; 95:3-5; 100:3; Isa. 11:12; Zech . 12:1; Acts 17:24 Rom. 1:20.
The existence of LIFE on the earth is proof of an intelligent Creator. Geology carries us back to a period when this earth, just cooled from its condition of a molten mass, had not the first trace of life. No such trace can be found in the oldest or fire-made rocks. But in the water-deposited rocks just above them the first traces of organic life is found. The gulf between dead matter and organic life is infinitely broad. It can be bridged, not by any natural law, but only by the intervention of an act of omnipotent power in creation. In the geologic epochs there are several such points where old races are destroyed and new ones introduced so different from the former that they (63. Of the theory of evolution? What of works of creation? Existence of life? What of geology?) could not be derived from them, and hence they must have been direct creations.
This doctrine has further evidence of its truth in what are called the EVENTS OF PROVIDENCE. Exod. 5:1; 7:12; 8:16, 22; 14:3, 29; 18:10; 20:18, 22; 29:46; Deut. 4:32-39; Ps. 9:16.
The name of God signifies THE GOOD BEING, and is applicable, in a subordinate sense, to other beings. Deut. 10:17; Ps. 97:7; Isa. 41:23; John 10:35; I Cor. 8:5.
This name, however, is given to the Author of our existence by way of eminence; and he only is entitled to the name. Deut. vi, 4; I Cor. viii, 46. His most appropriate name is JEHOVAH, which is not an accidental name, destitute of significance, but a name adopted by God himself, and "set in Israel" to express the mystery of his being. It is usually translated LORD in the Old Testament, so that the memorial name is not noticed by the English reader. Exod. 3: 14, 15; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 26:4. It denotes eternal existence. The Hebrews had it in such reverence that they did not pronounce it. Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 11:17. (64. Of Providence? Texts. What does the term God signify? Is it applicable to other beings? What of his name Jehovah? Word Lord? How did the Hebrew regard it?)
Believers in a personal God, the Author of revelation, distinct from the natural world, over which he presides, are called THEISTS.(1) Believers in a personal God, who has not spoken to man by a supernatural revelation, are called DEISTS. They who deny the distinct personality of God and identify him with the universe are PANTHEISTS. Some of these hold that matter is the only substance which exists, and are MATERIALIST PANTHEISTS. Others deny the existence of matter, and resolve all things into ideas. These are IDEALIST PANTHEISTS. With the Pantheist human personality and moral accountability are illusions. If man is only a part of God, he cannot sin. Those who deny the existence of God are called ATHEISTS. All who are not Theists reject the Bible as God's revealed will. Deism, Pantheism, and Atheism are each of them a credulity of the greatest kind, however they may be disguised in the garb of philosophy, equally degrading to the under-standing and to the heart. Ps. 14:1; 10:4 , 82:5; Job 21:14-15. (65. Who are called Theists? Deists? Pantheists? Materialists? Idealist? Atheists?)
1. The words Theism and Deism are radically the same, but a practical distinction has arisen. Theism is properly the faith of Reason preceding revelation; while Deism is faith in Reason, contesting revelation.