An agnostic is commonly seen and defined as someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of God. Technically it is more a position that the human mind is actually unable to truly understand or know God. One of the most famous agnostics, David Hume, claimed that since we cannot perceive the divine reality through the senses then we will never know if there is a reality that corresponds to the attributes we ascribe to God.
One of the basic claims of Christianity is that we can know God through scripture and through the revelation of Jesus. In making this claim, we should also be careful to remember that in a sense, God is truly incomprehensible. In Isaiah God says, “My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, see also: Job 11:7-8, Psalm 145:3, Isaiah 40:28, Isaiah 45:15, 1 Corinthians 2:11) So we need to remain humble in our claims to understanding God (Ecclesiastes 5:2) while still understanding that even though we cannot fully know God, what we do know through scripture and Jesus is truth. “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” (John 17:3)
Polytheism is usually considered a relic of our past. The early church came up against the polytheistic worldview of the Romans and the Greeks and the community of Israel fought against polytheism both within its own society and from the cultures and peoples around them. This traditional view of polytheism is a thing of our past but in another way polytheism is something that is on the rise in our postmodern culture. Henotheism is a form of polytheism that acknowledges many gods while choosing to worship one specific god in a specific way. Statements like, “All religions are roads leading to the same destination” or “Your religion is great for you but I chose to worship my god in my own way” are expressions that show we are once again heading towards a polytheistic (or henotheistic) culture.
Ever more in our postmodern culture we need to lay hold of truths like the Aaronic statement: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) And Paul’s claim: “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” (1 Timothy 2:3-5) We must hold firm to the reality that Jesus is not just a way, truth and life but that He is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)
Pantheism is the belief that everything in the universe, the sky, the trees, the rocks, you, and me are all a part of one universal god. Although the first known use of his word wasn’t until twenty years after his death, Baruch Spinoza is considered the first and greatest champion of pantheism. He said, that God is the unity of all substance. In a letter, Einstein wrote, “We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul as it reveals itself in man and animal.” As much as many Christians like to quote Einstein, it is good to remember that he considered himself a pantheist.
Pantheism stresses the immanence of God but it does not recognize that God is also both transcendent and personal. Solomon wrote, “God is in heaven, and you are here on earth, so let your words be few.”(Ecclesiastes 5:2) When Isaiah saw God he was, “Sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.”(Isaiah 6:1) Although He is transcendent, as Paul writes, “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:27) We are not part of God, but He wants us to be with Him.
Materialism is in reality a form of atheism. It holds the view that the only thing that exists is matter (or matter and energy) and that nothing beyond the physical exists. Materialists are deterministic in that they believe free will is only an illusion as all thought is only the product chemical processes. Many materialists view themselves as the only true “rational” or “scientific” thinkers.
God is Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24) In a western society where materialism is so prevalent in our mindset it is difficult to try and debate a materialist on rational grounds. Don’t bother. When speaking to Nicodemus Jesus said of the Spirit that we cannot see it but can see its effects (John 3:8). The greatest answer to the materialist is how the power of the Spirit of God has changed your life.
In the time of our founding fathers in America, Deism was a very prevalent view. It is best described as the absent clock maker. God has created the “clock”, this world, and set it in motion. Then He left it to its own devices and is no longer active in our world. Anthony Flew is probably the best known modern deist for his dramatic conversion to this view after being for decades one of the leading philosophers promoting atheism.
God is still active in our world today. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Then again, the deist will deny the deity of Jesus. They also deny God’s intervention in miracles such as the flood, the Red Sea, all prophesy, and the miracles of Jesus and the early church (or the church throughout time for that matter). Although the phrase is so used it has almost become cliche’, it is still true that God has not called us to a religion but to a relationship. The deist would claim that such a relationship is not possible. To go further, any logically consistent deist would have to claim that all of the millions of Christians who claim to have such a relationship are deluded. Any view of God that denies the very real experience of so many is itself a delusion.