This course will primarily be an exploration of the doctrine of God. It will look at who God is in Himself, who He is in relation to us and His creation, and how He has revealed Himself to us through both nature and Scripture. If we wanted someone to get to know us, we would want them to know us as we are; there is no reason why this should be any different with God: He wants us to know Him as He is. And yet as Christians we often take God for granted and we typically work off of assumptions which we have neither articulated nor even have clearly thought through. That risks making God into whatever image we want to fashion Him into being, rather than as He has revealed Himself. Because God is foundational to our understanding of reality, knowledge, and ethics, studying the doctrine of God is key to our faith and our life. If we get the doctrine of God wrong we will get literally everything else wrong in the Christian faith and worldview. Our choice is between, on the one hand, blindness, confusion, moral chaos, and dire consequences OR, on the other hand, standing in the light of the truth of God, finding one’s true purpose in why God has made us, accepting the salvation He has extended, and living in communion with Him: at the heart of that choice is a true understanding of who God is.
Lesson 1 – The Fear of the Lord
Why do we need to study the doctrine of God? Getting the doctrine of God right is absolutely central to getting the Christian faith right. The God we worship is not a generic Deity, but the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. He is the God with whom we are in covenant, and who is the foundation of our faith. We are all too inclined to think of God as being like ourselves but He is altogether different from us (Ps. 50:21). Understanding this brings us to a proper “Fear of the LORD,” which as Solomon says in Proverbs 1:7 is the “beginning of knowledge.” This introductory lesson will explore what this reverential fear of the LORD entails.
Lesson 2 – God as Absolute
The absolute foundation for all of reality, for our apprehension of that reality, and for all moral behavior is God Himself. Scripture talks about God as He is in Himself and well as He is in relation to us and creation. This is the first of three lessons examining God as He is in Himself and will focus in particular on the incommunicable attributes of God. These attributes are those that are unique to God, and which find no analog in mankind. The following two lessons will look at the key difference between God and man, namely God as Triune.
Lesson 3 – God as Triune – Scripture and History
The previous lesson examined several key attributes that make God truly unique as God and which His creatures do not share in any degree. This lesson and the next will turn to the preeminent doctrine of the Christian faith, namely, the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is the understanding that there is one God in Three Persons. The Christian Church has steadfastly confessed this since the time of Christ and acceptance of this teaching has been the touchstone of orthodoxy since the fourth century AD, when the Church wrestled deeply with how to formulate it rightly. This lesson will examine that controversy that led to orthodox formulation of the Trinity historically and Scripturally.
Lesson 4 – God as Triune – Doctrine and Implications
In Lesson 3 we looked at the Scriptural basis for the doctrine of the Trinity and how the Christian church came to formulate a true description of the Trinity as a result of the Arian crisis of the fourth century. The Trinity, however, is not just a mysterious theological doctrine; understanding the Triune nature of God is central to living the Christian life. In this lesson we will look at the technical terminology surrounding the doctrine, how people have historically gotten the doctrine wrong, and how the Trinity is integral to living the Christian life.
Lesson 5 – God our Creator, Whose Image We Bear
In this lesson we transition from God as He is in Himself, to God as He is in relation to His to us. The creation account and related passages not only show that God made all things, but establishes His covenantal relationship to us as His image-bearers and what that means for us.