Author and preacher A. W. Tozer wrote in the early 20th century: “What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us…Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ‘What comes into your mind when you think about God?’ we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.”
In a similar way, researcher Kenda Dean writes, “Who we are and what we do as religious people are decisively shaped by the kind of God we worship.”
Preacher and researcher agree: what we think about God is the most important thing about us. It shapes our identity and our behavior. It sets the course for our future.
The Christian faith has long argued the same point. In fact, when one hundred and fifty bishops gathered in 381 A. D. to approve a creed that could serve as a definitive summary of Christianity’s most fundamental beliefs, their creed began with God: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.”
These words introduce the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, commonly known as the Nicene Creed. As the early Christians sought a synopsis of the beliefs which made Christianity truly Christianity and which set it apart from any other religious or faith system, they realized it must begin with God. They knew that what we believe about God is the most important thing about us.
• Thus they articulated a belief in “one God”—a nod to the Jewish Shema in Deuteronomy 6 and to the God of the Old Testament.
• They spoke in favor of God as “the Father”—a nod to the Gospels and to the God of the New Testament.
• They proclaimed a God who was “the Almighty”—a word used in both testaments to refer to the powerful and protective might of God.
• They resolved that God as “maker of heaven and earth” was fundamental to the Christian faith. This phrase harkened back to Gen. 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
• And they described their belief in God as maker “of all that is, seen and unseen”—a God who made all that is visible and invisible.
The Christian faith argues for a worldview which, among many things, 1) acknowledges the existence of God, and 2) confesses belief that this God made all that exists. In other words, an abiding faith in God as maker of heaven and earth is a defining Christian belief. It makes us who we are. It shapes our identity and our behavior.
Attempts to describe life and its origin which preclude God are not only wrong—they shape us into a very different kind of people. They influence our identity and our behavior. The early Christians understood this and thus presented one’s belief about God as maker of heaven and earth as a fundamental conviction.
In many ways, who we are as entire society is determined by this one factor. A creed which dismisses God of any form and his role in our existence creates one type of society. A creed which acknowledges God and his role in our existence creates a different type of society. Could it be that the troubles our Western society faces are due, at least in part, to our convictions (or lack of) regarding God as maker of heaven and earth?
I have neither the space nor the wisdom to explore how this might be taught in a public school system. But one thing I do know—the belief in God as maker of heaven and earth makes all the difference in the world.