What Christians Mean By God

Clouds Argument from Contingency

Those that liken the Christian God to that of the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” or any other nonsensical, mythical figure do one thing well when doing so – reveal their ignorance. Many of them are highly intelligent people, but they are quite literally ignorant (in the true sense of the word) of the God Christians truly claim to worship. The Christian God is one that we can come to know by the natural light of reason.

Here’s another exclusive clip from episode three of the soon to be released Catholicism project, by Fr. Barron. He beautifully demonstrates one of the classical proofs for God’s existence: The Argument from Contingency.

The Christian God is not just a mythical character in a feel-good fable. He’s not some irrational explanation for what we can not explain. And He’s not been created out of our own wishful fancies or to fulfill some psychological need. He is the very being who is being itself. The being which depends on nothing else for its own existence. The first cause. The logically necessary being whose very nature it is to be. This is what we Christians mean, among other things, by God.

Exclusive preview of all clips from the CATHOLICISM series.

10 comments Add comment

Brett February 6, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I’ve always liked the contingency argument. It is accessible without being oversimplistic.

As I grow older, I’m also more and more convinced that St. Anselm was on to something when he said that God is that than which nothing greater can be thought. At first glance, it looks like nonsense, but I think it does a wonderful job of getting God out of the system of things. Anselm’s claim IS total nonsense if God is one being among many. But if God is “somehow else” the ontological argument becomes more and more persuasive.

Robert February 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Fr. Robert Barron is the new Fulton Sheen. I love his ministry http://www.wordonfire.org. I had the privaledge of meeting him twice in person, one time at his office in Skokie, IL. He is a genuine servant of God. I cannot wait for “Catholicism”

Holly March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am

Outstanding and beautiful presentation and clearly argued. The argument from contingency like the other arguments for the existence of God is quite compelling if you are at all intellectually inclined. But in the end even Aquinas fell silent at the end of his life. Being that can be understood is not Being – the “I Am” – Even the beauty of nature cannot capture the awesomeness of the presence of God. That is why Moses was hidden. Seeing is always seeing something. Inwardness is not seeing, it is being.

Caiphus May 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Apollo is not just a mythical character in Greek tales. He is the very being who is being itself. The first cause. Apollo: The “logically necessary being” whose very nature is to be.
(This just does not make any sense whether you’re talking about Apollo or Yahweh.)

Bill August 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Caiphus, Apollo fails the “First Cause” test. According to the Greeks, Apollo had a father … who had a father … who had a father … who had a mother … who was born out of Chaos, which was a vast and dark void (nothingness) — but nothing (Chaos) cannot produce nothing.

Blase August 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm

So what makes the christian God different form
the Muslim god, the Hindu god(s). You hear it all of the
time, “what difference does it make we all pray to the same

Matthew Warner August 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Blase, that’s a big question. But I think there are lots of answers. The “difference” it makes is that not all of them are actually true – and therefore real. So if we care about what is real and about living a life based in truth, with real purpose and meaning, then it makes ALL the difference in the world.

As for the Muslim God, it has the same roots as the Judeo-Christian God. So I would imagine that philosophically, although I don’t know this, they would agree with Fr. Barron’s points in this video as to what we mean – generally – by God. As for the Hindu gods, it’s obviously quite different. From the very get-go, the fact that in Hinduism we’re talking about gods (plural) as opposed to God, shows a very fundamentally different understanding of what we mean by God.

The basic philosophical argument presented in this post is just one small bit of what we know about God. And the point here was to illustrate that the Being we talk about as being GOD in Christianity is s fundamentally different kind of being than what many critics of Christianity seem to think. And that we can know this basic fact about God from simple logic and philosophy (no need of revelation, Jesus Christ, His Church, or other evidence – yet). All of that other stuff is additional evidence, that we can reasonably account for to get a much clearer picture of what and who God is. That’s where we learn even more about what is true and what isn’t.

Blase August 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I finally got back to this.

You said… ” Blase, that’s a big question.”

I don’t think it’s a big question at all, as a matter of fact I think it’s
“the” pivotal question.

The God Of the Bible is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Son Became man and died on the cross for our sins and he rose
from the dead. No other belief claims that.

If your basic world view doesn’t start with that you are
not worshiping the God of the Bible.

I choose not to say christian God because not everybody that claims to be, or thinks they are Christian,is!

Matthew Warner August 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Blase – I’m not sure where we’re disagreeing…other than that I think it is in fact a big question. And when I don’t know the motivation behind your question, your background, where you’re coming from, etc. it makes it difficult to answer in a precise (small) way such a general question. Additionally, your question is addressing the identity of God in a “bigger” way than the basic premise and topic of this post.

Which is fine, but you’re getting into the God of the Bible now. The God of revelation. The God of Christ’s Church. All the same God, of course. But for the sake of the philosophical argument for God’s existence this post addresses – they are largely unhelpful.

Of COURSE we can know MUCH more about God and what makes Him different through revelation/bible/etc. And yes, Christianity has a unique case in Jesus. AND, I believe, the most compelling and reasonable case.

But this post was talking about, first, the basic philosophical reasoning for a God – in general. The creator of all things. The First Cause. The Prime Mover. So that’s what I assumed your question had to do with.

I understand the misunderstanding as the title of the post would suggest covering a whole lot more information. But that wasn’t the point here. This was not so much a Christian vs. non-Christian argument as it was a Christian vs. non-theists argument. So it could be, perhaps, also titled, “What Theists mean by God.” However, that is less helpful, in my opinion. As, different religions have different meanings for God, as well. Some other religions share a similar philosophical foundation as Christianity. But many do not. And the extent of the intellectual tradition in Christianity is more than in most if not all other religions – particularly within Catholicism. So that’s why I chose the title I did. I hope that helps!

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