« AnteriorContinuar »
that God is in his world. The next question, suggested, indeed, by the statement itself will be, is he a person? The answer will depend upon the definition of person.
If by person, we mean a being who mostly dwells separate from any and all other persons, then God is not a person,-for, as we have just agreed, he is not thus separable. Isolated is exactly what God is not. Made in his image, we partake of his nature. If we partake of his nature, he partakes of our nature. The principle, no man liveth to himself will apply equally to him with us. Abstract any man from his relations to other men, make him quiescent -neither a father nor a son, neither a buyer nor a seller, neither a debtor nor a creditor, his mind entirely off of other persons, of all his interests in them, of all the life he lives in them;—and the hibernating existence of such a depleted mortal could scarcely be called living at all nor could he longer be called even the shell of a man. There is no known instance of a hermit human personality, completely independent, that existed in and by and for itself alone. Every human person lives and moves and has his being in other human persons, and they in him.
What is thus true of the human person is true of God, with the simple difference (simple for thought, at least) that the one is infinite, and the other is finite. Ascribing unlimited capacity to God, in this way, must mean that just as the life of each one of us is inter-related to certain persons, the life of God is inter-related to all persons. Our relationships, as persons, are confined mostly to certain persons, and certain persons only, because we are finite. Because he is infinite, God is a person who sustains active relations with every person and with all persons. He
ceases to be a separable, or a finite person, only to become the universal, the inclusive, the infinite per
What makes the rest of us finite is that only a small part of the sum-total of things and persons finds any place in our lives. What makes God infinite is that the complete sum-total finds its place in his.
Since this word “person” is apt still to carry some of these implications of finitude and separableness, would it not be better to find some other term for God? Perhaps we ought to call him something else and greater than a person. I should be quite willing to do so, if I knew what to call him. But if we call him a "principle," as I believe some people do, have we not lost rather than gained? There are different kinds of principles which do us good service, principles which men have deduced in geometry, principles of morals, principles of mathematics. Since every such principle, however, is a deduction from or an abstraction of personality, it is a little and derived thing by comparison. As an English theologian said some years ago, "No positive hypothesis can be offered as a substitute for a personal God and not be either an abstraction from personality and therefore demonstrably unreal, or an abstraction inconsistently personified, and therefore demonstrably untrue.” People have proposed to call God a “tendency,” but a tendency, also, must be a tendency of something, and is, in itself, nothing at all but a certain behavior which men observe and call by that name. If no one can shrink even the human personality to the size of a principle or a tendency, how can the divine personality be crowded into it? Nor do I get any more help from the word, "super-personal.” I sympathize with the
wish of those who use it, to escape from some of the limitations suggested by the term personal. But the trouble with the word super-personal, in the sense of beyond personality as applied to God, is that it doesn't seem to mean anything. Haven't we applied enough words of that sort to God in the past, without inventing any more now? So, though some very good men have suggested that God cannot be confined in the category of personality, and must, therefore, be referred to as super-personal, I find the simple objection sufficient that it is impossible to attach any definite meaning to the word. We would better stick to personality which does mean something, and clear it as applied to God, as much as possible, of its defects of inclusion and exclusion. So I say God is a person,-because to say anything less than that would make him something less than you and I, and I do not know how to say anything more or better. Only I say he is the universal, the inclusive, the infinite person. He is a person: he knows himself and his relations to us; he has will, purpose, intelligence, love. He is the universal, the inclusive, the infinite person, that you and I are not.
Let me try to put this in another way. Personality in each of us is the mysterious gift of cementing, combining and integrating, which binds together all that belong to us. It is queer to think how many different and slightly related things happen to a man,he has the measles, he goes away to college, he falls in love with a certain girl, he votes the Democratic ticket, he gets caught in the snowstorm, he goes to Congress, he adopts the pragmatic philosophy,through sixty or seventy or eighty years, a conglomeration of events and ideas, experiences and efforts, out
ward circumstances and inward purposes, make up his life. Now these things, such as the measles he had at five and the pragmatic philosophy he adopted at forty and the girl he married at twenty-eight, have a pretty slender thread of connection with each other. What we mean by personality is the something that takes all these outward events and these inward purposes, all these happenings of youth and of old age, all these items so multifarious and so unconnected, takes them all and binds them together into a single whole. What makes us finite is that in this binding work which constitutes our personality, only a comparatively few events and persons, of all the events and persons that might be, get bound up into your personal life or mine. But if this is a universe at all, if there is anything that runs back and forth, and up and down through it, and binds together into one whole, all the events that have ever happened and all the persons who have ever lived, I do not know what that can be except this same thing, which in you and me binds a few events and persons into the unity of our personal lives. What changes the universe from a diverse into a universe is therefore the fact that everything in it falls within the consciousness of one personal experience. And what we mean by saying that God is infinite is that there is no event that falls outside his experience and no person who falls outside his knowledge and love. ... No one has to believe in God at all who does not so prefer. But if anyone is to believe in God it is hard to see how he can believe in any other god than one who is personal in this all-inclusive way.
If God is a person he will necessarily reveal himself. For that is the nature of personality. You can
not have any person around without someone's knowing it. Can you have a baby in the house and nobody—not the mother, not the nurse, not the milkman, not anybody, know it? Can you have a ten-yearold boy in the family and not find any evidence of him anywhere, -not hear his voice, nor find his coat, nor miss anything from the cupboard? Could Napoleon be in Europe and nobody know it? Or Roosevelt in America? Could you keep Lloyd George hid? If God does not reveal himself, we may say one thing of him with perfect safety, that he is a personality of no consequence and we need not bother ourselves about him. A personality so feeble as not to reveal itself would be something less than the smallest and feeblest human personality. Every person is revealed by what he does and is. If God does anything he will be revealed in what he does. If he doesn't do anything, he is of no consequence, and he doesn't exist. Very well, then, God necessarily reveals himself.
And where will his revelation of himself be found? In the “process" as I said before;—in the universe, wherever you care to look. He is revealed in nature, as the writer of the nineteenth Psalm knew. His patience, his power, his energy, his love of order and of beauty, we get from nature. Nature is one form of the revelation of God.
Here we come, if I am not mistaken, upon the explanation of a phenomenon which has troubled some good people: the decay, in recent times, of interest in the miraculous. When I was a boy everything hinged on the miracles: the divinity of Christ, the truth of the scriptures, God himself. That is not the case any more. Few of the people who no longer depend upon it, have argued themselves out of belief in the miraculous.