Worldview Basics Pt.2: God as Absolute Personality
Last week we began a study covering the basic principles of “Weltanschauung”, or worldview, and opened the series by formulating a brief history and definition of the concept (click here to view). We found that, according to the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant, a very simplistic definition of Weltanschauung consists of one’s sense perceptions of the world—the lens through which a person views reality. Given this introduction, I also noted that, for the remaining segments of this series, I would like to focus our attention on discussing what John Frame describes as, “The four most important things to remember about the Christian worldview.” So…what are they?
According to Frame, the four most important concerns for maintaining a healthy Christian worldview are, “First, the absolute personality of God; second, the relationship between Creator and creature; third, the sovereignty of God; and fourth, the Trinity.” Let’s dissect the first—the absolute personality of God.
To label God as being absolute means that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things in existence, from the greatest expanse of the universe, all the way down to the most minuscule sub-atomic particle. Thus, God is the foundation of all reality. This does not mean however, that God relies in any way on the created universe for His own existence, but rather is Himself, self-existent—“a se” (Acts 17:25; Psalm 90:2, 93:2; John 1:1). The expression, “a se”, is a Latin phrase which means, “from or by oneself”, and this is where we get the doctrine of God’s “aseity”. To say that God is a se is to say that He is self-existent and depends on nothing else for His existence. He is absolute.
Not only is the God of Scripture absolute, but He is also personal. If one reads Scripture, it is no secret that God interacts with His creation personally. God speaks (Acts 10:19), bears witness (Romans 8:16-17), helps and prays (Romans 8:26), loves (Romans 15:30), reveals (1 Corinthians 2:10), and so on. God is immensely personal and also absolute, making Himself known as such to His contingent creation.
All good and well, but does this have any value in regards to developing and maintaining a Christian worldview? Well…yes, tons! One of the many considerations to take seriously in worldview discussion is the issue of coherence with reality. Frame rightly concludes that,
The great question confronting modern humanity is this: Granted that the universe contains both persons (like you and me) and impersonal structures (like matter, motion, chance, time, space, and physical laws), which is fundamental?
What makes more sense to say? May we conclude that the personal aspect of reality primarily results from the impersonal, or the reverse? If we argue the former, then morality, consciousness, love, friendship, and the like all stem from matter, motion, time, and chance. Does this make sense to say? Or, is it more likely to conclude that the impersonal features of the world are produced from the personal? Are the laws governing the world set in place by a personal reality, or are they the result of random and impersonal processes? The point being, in the grand scheme of things something has to be ultimate, either it’s the personal or it’s the impersonal. It is within this dilemma that the Christian faith thrives.
It seems to be the case that only in biblical theism, and/or systems heavily influenced by it (with qualifications which are not in the scope of this article to discuss), that reality is governed by an absolute and personal origin. This is not so for other worldview systems. For example, in naturalistic evolution, the personal aspect of reality results from the impersonal universe which is absolute. In this light, an impersonal universe produces things like morality, love, and consciousness by matter, motion, time, and chance. Ask yourself, does this make any sense? If it were true, the personal things that matter most to us (morality, love, consciousness, etc.) are nothing more than the consequence of accidental and unintended happenings of the universe. Not so appealing!
It isn’t much better for other religious beliefs that tend to promote either a polytheistic or pantheistic emphasis. The polytheistic gods of the Greeks, Egyptians, Hindus, and the like are very personal, but not absolute. They may act in moral ways (most of the time immorally) but ultimately they do not have sufficient grounds for their actions. These personalistic deities by no means constitute a perfect standard for morality as does the God of Christian Scripture. They are often times held to the same standard as mere mortals, one that is far above them.
On the other hand, thought influenced by pantheism takes the other extreme. There is an absolute, as is found with the Greek notion of Fate or the Hindu belief in Brahman, but they are not personal. These types of absolutes ultimately fair no better than naturalistic evolution. You may have an absolute, but no personal reason for legislating morality or recognizing beauty which are very personal interactions. Can impersonal forces make such things binding? Surely not!
The God of Christianity however, is both absolute and personal. Being personal, He is the reason why humans are able to have emotional experiences such as love, or have the ability to recognize universal concepts such as morality. After all, historic Christian dogma teaches that humans are created Imago Dei—in the image of this personal God (Genesis 1:27). Being absolute then, means that He gives personal experiences a foundation and a standard to which they can adhere. This absolute God, who is also personal, gives deep meaning and reason for our existence. Recognizing that the God of the Bible is both absolute and personal allows us to accept the Christian worldview with more ease. It is vitally important that as Christians we maintain this belief and view all of reality in light of it.
With that said, I’ll leave you with the words of the Apostle John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was the life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
Frame, John. Apologetics to the Glory of God. Phillipsburg: P&r Publishing, 1994.
Oliphint, K. Scott, and Lane G. Tipton, eds. Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics. Phillipsburg: P&r Publishing, 2007.
 John Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God (Phillipsburg: P&r Publishing, 1994). 34
 K. Scott Oliphint and Lane G. Tipton, eds., Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics (Phillipsburg: P&r Publishing, 2007). 115
 Frame, 35.