What can man say about God? This question, not only theological but also philosophical in nature, can be reflected on from the description that the Apostle John made of the Creator in his work Revelation. The Apostle wrote: "at once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne" (Revelation 4:2,3).

So the "substance" of God's being is jasper and ruby? Obviously not. The Apostle John himself stated in his gospel that God is Spirit (John 4:24). However, since he didn't know how to describe God, he claimed that He was similar to these precious stones. John sees Him as a greenish being and, at the same time, reddish and transparent. This is this apostle's description of God based on the vision he had on the island of Patmos, around the year 95, year of the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:9). What can be concluded from this Johannine description of the divine being?

First, human beings can say nothing about God except what He has revealed Himself to man. And He did this, that is, revealed Himself, in two ways: a natural revelation that is present in His creation, in the physical world; and another revelation, called special, that took place by Him appearing Himself to men like Abraham and Moses (Genesis 12:1-9; Exodus 3), then through prophets that He raised up among the Jews and, finally, by His entrance into the world, in the Person of the Son, who received the name Jesus, the Christ.

Second, and this conclusion follows from the first, that the syntax of human thought receives direct influence from "existence" and therefore from God, since the "existence" in which human beings live was established by Him, the Creator. This is why John speaks of God from elements of his own "existence". For this reason it follows that the Creator is not exactly as the Apostle described, although his description shows a litle of the divine glory and majesty.

God is mystery and beyond human understanding (Job 36:26). He has revealed Himself to man only to the extent that man can understand Him. In this context, Paul speaks of a spiritual experience he had, in which he "was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell" (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). That is, man does not have total knowledge of God and his Kingdom, but just enough for him to understand that this earthly "existence" is not all there is and is contaminated by evil. 

This relationship between "existence" and thought is so strong that all human thought takes place in the spheres of divine creation. Everything that man thinks has an influence on what he sees and feels in the world. Thus, it can be said that everything man thinks has a deep origin in God. In this way there is nothing original in human thought. Even the thinking of the great Greek philosophers and all those who succeeded them is influenced by divine conceptions. Even the atheistic thought that states that "God does not exist" finds dependence on God, because such a statement only makes sense on the premise that "God exists".

Thus, there is no autonomous area in human thinking, because man exists only in God and because of God. Even fallen, even separated from God because of original sin, he depends on God. The life he lives is not his own. It is granted to him by the Creator. Their anti-God stance does not stem from their own original thinking, but from a mind created by God that was dominated by a spirit of rebellion, which took hold of it at the time of original sin. Even those who acknowledge the divine existence and the spiritual world do so from misconceptions, and their religiosity boils down to idolatry.

Man without God is idolatrous. He worships creation, elements of creation, and himself. And there is yet another aspect to consider: according to the Apostle Paul, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4). That is, Satan, the fallen angel, constantly works to lead man away from God. For these reasons, fallen human thought does not reach the divine plan of existence, its Kingdom of glory, and God Himself. 

The Apostle Paul, however, affirms the possibility, in Christ, for fallen man to have his mind transformed to the point of lifting up thoughts not only of the physical world or of the fallen imagination, but also of the "heavenly regions" (Ephesians 1:20;6:12) and of the divine plane of "existence". This is possible through repentance, that is, through fallen man's attitude of recognizing his sinful condition and giving himself totally to God. This attitude constitutes what Jesus and the authors of the New Testament call "metanoia," that is, "change of mind. Turning to God produces in man a new mentality of life, marked by "an interior change of mind, affections, convictions, and loyalties rooted in the fear of God... [2].

This renewal of the mind, of which the Apostle Paul speaks, promotes living in alignment with the divine will, correcting the problem caused in man's being by original sin (Romans 12:2). Derived from faith in Christ, it rescues the initial vision of man from before original sin, bringing understanding of the "fallen reality" and a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. But this new vision of the plane of spiritual existence is not full, yet it brings the hope of future glory. The Apostle himself says: "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). This is why the Apostle states that the Christian has the "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). Thus, before the mystery of the world, man, in Christ, has the possibility of understanding the mystery of himself.

Antônio Maia - Ph.B, MDiv

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GINGRICH, F. Wilbur e DANKER, Frederick W.. Léxico do Novo Testamento. São Paulo-SP, Ed Vida Nova, p.134, 2005.

KROMMINGA, C.G.. Enciclopédia Histórico Teológica da Fé Cristã. São Paulo-SP. Ed Vida Nova, p. 120, 2009.


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