“God created man in His own image and man returned the favor”. These sarcastic words are a quote from Voltaire, the famous French philosopher and agnostic. Are we stunned? We shouldn’t be. Paul saw this human tendency from a long way off and warned of the immanent dangers of exchanging the truth of God for a man-made lie:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:21-23, 25).

In the contemporary church today there is a tragic dearth of Biblical study of the person and works of God. Pop-psychology and emotional subjectivism have replaced the Scripture’s paradigm of how God describes Himself. And this point is critical. God’s Word is what best defines who He is. No amount of man’s wisdom, clever language, or vivid imagination can do justice to the nature of God when compared to His self-revelation. A quick glimpse at the large portion of best-selling “Christian” books and DVDs shows them to be shockingly humanistic in their characterization of the sovereign Lord. When church members gobble up millions of books that portray the creator of the universe as an overweight African-American woman who likes to cook or describes God as “a risk taker” (which denies God’s omniscience) we have an obligation to be alarmed and sound a warming siren.

This is juxtaposed against the exalted view of God and the proper study of His nature and character that was expressed (at age 20 nonetheless) by C. H. Spurgeon “It has been said that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father”. Spurgeon eloquently defines the knowledge of God to be a worthwhile and necessary pursuit but only when conducted through “proper study”.

Tragically today many within the “church” today view God through the lens of self, fiction, humanistic psychology, or popular thinking. Often little of our definition of Him relies upon God’s own objective statements of His attributes and character. If it is uncomfortable, seemingly “unfair”, doesn’t “feel right”, or promotes God in all of His otherness (His holy and infinitely superior distinctiveness from His creation) then we prefer to redefine Him in more comfortable and man-friendly terms. In this process we can so modernize, rationalize, humanize, homogenize, anthropomorphize and domesticate Him that we altogether de-deify the Creator. And in doing so we have created God in our own image thereby endangering ourselves to the judgment of God that Paul spoke of in Romans 1.

I believe that God is incomprehensible, absolutely self-sufficient, and inherently sovereign in His supremacy over all things, ideas, and perceptions. Yet His word commands us to pursue knowledge and understanding of Him. This is not a contradiction. The Word that decrees that we pursue Him also helps us to understand Him. Solomon captures this thought when he states, “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5).

The prophet Jeremiah declares, “ This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Therefore we are to seek to know God, as He is, for who He is, based upon His own revelation of Himself. So let’s be careful as to what means we use to understand and conceptualize God – if it is not based upon His Word it is not really Him or from Him. Let’s not succumb to the fleshly temptation to humanize our transcendent Lord and attempt to create God in our own image.