Over the years, I’ve often been asked to describe God and Jesus; not who they are, but what they are. We humans are technically highly-formed creatures of the animal kingdom on earth, but how would we describe our creators, for they didn’t originate from our tiny and insignificant planet, in this vast universe that seems to have no end. I say creators in the plural sense, for this is how the Bible describes them: “Then God [elohim1] said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness’,” (Genesis 1:26a, NRSV).2
And for the most part, they are invisible and matter-less creatures. We are told it is in heaven that dwells our creators, but heaven, as spoken about in churches, is an ambiguous term used with little meaning, other than being ‘out there’ somewhere.
Scripture, however, gives a bit more information and speaks of more than one heaven. In the Old Testament, the very first verse of God’s Holy Bible indicates the plurality of heaven by stating, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth . . . ” (Genesis 1:1). And in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, in an indirect reference to himself, stated, “I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven,” (2 Corinthians 12:2a).3
Most Christian scholars believe the first heaven is the atmosphere and sky surrounding the earth (or other planets), and the second heaven is the outer space beyond a planet’s gravitational pull and atmosphere canopy, where the stars and galaxies reside. Finally, beyond that, is where God and other spiritual entities dwell and is called the third heaven.4 I should add that some academics believe that the third heaven could actually be a different dimension, realm, or domain, rather than just some vast distance beyond the physical universe.
Still, scripture doesn’t really provide direct answers to “what is God” or “what is Jesus,” inasmuch as providing a description, so we must speculate from the accumulated outside evidence that does exist. This article, therefore, won’t answer many specific questions, but only present suggestions to think about. And many Christians do think about this — a lot!
I have been involved in discussion groups in homes and church offices, as well as meetings in academic institutions, where these issues were addressed and debated at length. So, this discourse will present a range of thought to possibly help you make up your own mind. If you think this subject is just a lot of bunk, that is okay, just hang-in for the entertainment value.
God and Jesus as Viewed by Humans
In many old paintings and art, God sometimes appears as an elderly human male with a whitish beard, gallantly robed in regal-colored clothing, maybe floating on a cloud. The personification of God as a human must be acceptable, right? After all, Genesis states that humans were created in the ‘image’ of God.
But really, this is a naive idea of reality, even though that is what has been presented through the ages. Being created in the image of God doesn’t have to mean we are mirror images of his appearance. I think we are merely expected to reflect his character and attributes. We need those specific traits to take care of this planet’s animals, plants, and physical features, as was our given job. So, the Bible’s description doesn’t really give any information concerning what the Almighty looks like, and throughout scripture, God the Father is invisible and therefore the form he takes is unknown.
Those Christian organizations that teach Jesus is part of a Trinity, sometimes present his Father as the Christlike image of a man. The Roman Catholic Church, and some other denominations, are keen on statues and images and wanted something to which its members could relate, and a statue of Jesus is a good substitute. The human incarnation of an unseeable God is better than nothing, besides, calling him God makes it all easier, I guess. But that is not what God said to do, for we are told: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,” (Exodus 20:4).
Jesus: pre-human, human, and post-human!
It matters not if one believes in the Trinity or not; people have a difficult time separating Jesus from his Father, but they are different. How so? Well, Jesus is easier to understand, so we will start there.
We know most about Jesus because his life on earth as a human is recorded, but less about his pre-human and post-human existence. By becoming human, the Christ accepted a serious downgrade from his previous heavenly position. As one author explained, Jesus told his disciples that he didn’t know when he would return at the end of the age, because only his father knew that information. This meant he lost many of his abilities and knowledge, because he accepted this lowly human condition while on earth.5
In reality, Jesus didn’t come to earth to be God, but to be a perfect man and exchange his life for that of the only other perfect man ever on earth: Adam. Jesus was a ransom for the perfect life Adam (and Eve) lost in the Garden of Eden because of sin. Jesus purchased back Adam’s perfect human life by sacrificing his own perfect human life as a substitute. “Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of his father, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people,” (Hebrews 2:17). (For more about this subject, see the article, “Why Didn’t Jesus Know the Time of His Return”, listed in References & Notes.6)
Our pre-human savior, prior to appearing as a man, may have sometimes taken the form of a human to relate to several Old Testament characters, but otherwise remained invisible through most of history. It was he (and his helpers) who took charge of molding, educating, and directing God’s chosen people, the Israelites and Hebrew descendants. This heavenly life form was as an angelic being, following his father’s directions. He was a god, and he was looked upon as God, but was not God Almighty. Many people believe that pre-human Jesus was God’s prince of the angelic realm, named Michael and was considered an Archangel (see Daniel 12:1 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16).7
The post-human Jesus, after his resurrection was raised to a higher position in the Almighty’s organization, ruling with more power and authority, a reward for his obedience and faith. After his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” (Matthew 28:18a).
Ephesians 1:20–21 states that when God raised Christ from death, “he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.” Now back in the heavenly realm, Jesus sits “at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him,” (1 Peter 3:22).
And God is — What?
The idea of visualizing our Savior’s Father is much more difficult. How does one identify something we have neither seen, heard, touched, nor has been physically described — a spiritual being without form or substance, but nevertheless a living entity, far above the highest of the angelic life forms he created? He existed before anything in this universe was formed, and is intelligent enough to design the galaxies, planets, spiritual creatures, animals, plants, you, me, and most likely millions of other life forms throughout the universe. (Note: if you are interested in other possible life forms and their possible visits to earth in the past, see the article “Angels from Heaven or Aliens from Outer Space?” listed in References & Notes.)8
I have always said that I do not believe that science is the enemy of faith, but that science and Christian doctrine can be accommodated together. So, I lean toward provable science to help me understand subjects and find possible answers to what I can’t locate in the Bible. Scripture is a first source, and science helps fill in the gaps, as it is understood today. Scientific answers, of course, must blend and mesh with scripture, not the other way around.
In modern physical science, for instance, there is very active research into a mind-bending and seemingly wacky discovery, known as ‘quantum entanglement’, of the tiny invisible particles that make up the atoms of everything in existence throughout the universe. In the state of quantum entanglement, the properties of each particle, or group of them, are acting as if they are connected.
If you tamper with one particle of an entangled pair, the other particle perceives that the action has been performed and acts accordingly, even if separated by great distance. These particles react instantly and in unison, to any events without regard to distance or the limits imposed by the speed of light. In such a case, the groups of particles are not each an individual, but together a single undivided whole. Basically, they communicate with each other although there is no physical connection.9
Two or more particles, be they protons, electrons, atoms, or molecules, can be entangled and one will affect the others instantaneously, even if at very great distances of separation.10 This effect has already been demonstrated across hundreds of miles, but is believed to be true across distances measured in light years.
An even stranger discovery, in connection with this research, is that “a particle’s behavior changes depending on whether there is an observer or not. It basically suggests that reality is a kind of illusion and exists only when we are looking at it.” Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles of matter and as waves of energy.11 That is sort of like, if someone isn’t looking at it, it’s not there.
This is real science, not some sort of ‘woo-woo’ or new age belief. It has been proven in university and industrial laboratory experiments. Physicist Niels Bohr12 once said, “if quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” And Albert Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance.”
If you are asking how all this science stuff relates to God and the Holy Bible, a radio interview of physicist Dr. Michio Kaku should get your attention. When the interviewer stated that quantum entanglement sounds like a mathematical description of infinite knowledge, ever presence, and unlimited power, Dr. Kaku responded: “That’s what it leads to. Their theory says that I exist because you look at me, somebody looks at you so you exist, so who looks at her? Who looks at us? Well, — God [does]!”13
Dr. Dean Radin, a researcher, author, and previous senior scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, wrote: “Physicists have even speculated that entanglement extends to everything in the universe, because as far as we know, all energy and all matter emerged out of a single, primordial Big Bang. And thus everything came out of the chute already entangled. Such proposals suggest that despite everyday appearances, we might be living within a holistic, deeply interconnected reality.”14
Mind before matter is the correct order of the equation to creation, not the other way around. Matter is nothing less than an expression of divine intelligence giving it the command: “Make it so.”15 That is a similar thought of what was written on a bumper-sticker I once had on my pick-up truck, many years ago, which read: “Big Bang Theory: God said it, and BANG, it happened.” That is suggestive of God’s thought and action in the Genesis creation story, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light,” (Genesis 1:3).16
So, could this be one possible explanation of what God is? Could God be the full intelligence of the universe, the combined matrix of interconnected everything? Think about it, God is benevolent, he is everywhere, knows everything — is everything. God is always within us, watching us, knowing what we need. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Now, if the universe composes the total of divine insight and is a supreme supernatural entity, it would be similar to a theory devised by a 17th century philosopher by the name of Spinoza.17 But his theology, called Pantheism, suggested the deity was not a personal god, but an impersonal force,18 whereas many modern thinkers believe that such a God is very personal and relatable, such as our Bible indicates.
Regardless of what you think, God’s universe is amazing and God himself, is an awesome God. And in recognition to this fact, our song selection for this article is a music video by Michael W. Smith. The song title is ‘Awesome God’ and it was recorded in 2021 and features the Victory Drumline Band. The lyrics are but four lines, and that is all that are needed. Several other performers try to add additional lyrics, but they diminish the power of the song. Lyrics are below and a link to the music video is listed in References & Notes.19
He reigns from heaven above,
With wisdom, power, and love,
Our God is an Awesome God,
Our God is an Awesome God.
Copyright © 2022, Dr. Ray Hermann
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References & Notes
- elohim: Strong’s Hebrew #430, a plural form meaning gods in the ordinary sense (Gods, gods, angels, etc.).
Strong, James, The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996).
- All scripture is taken from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989). Used with permission.
- Walvoord John F. and Zuck, Roy B., (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), vol. 2, p. 582.
- Haynes Jr., Clarence L., “How Many Heavens Are There?” (Bible Study Tools, 8 November 2020), https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/how-many-heavens-are-there.html
- Instone-Brewer, David, Science & the Bible: Modern Insights for an Ancient Text, Scripture in Context Series, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020), pp. 236–237.
- Hermann, Ray, “Why Didn’t Jesus Know the Time of His Return”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 25 July 2022), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/why-didnt-jesus-know-the-time-of-his-return/
- Lucey, Candice, “Who Is the Archangel Michael?” (Christianity, 6 April 2022), https://www.christianity.com/wiki/angels-and-demons/who-is-the-archangel-michael.html
- Hermann, Ray, “Angels from Heaven or Aliens from Outer Space?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 12 November 2020), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/angels-from-heaven-or-aliens-from-outer-space/
- Hermann, Ray, “Quantum Entanglement: Wacky Physics or God’s Design?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 9 May 2019), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/quantum-entanglement-wacky-physics-or-gods-design/
- “Quantum entanglement,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 25 August 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement
- LeMind, Anna, “New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It,” (The Mind Unleashed, 3 June 2015), https://themindunleashed.com/2015/06/new-mind-blowing-experiment-confirms-that-reality-doesnt-exist-if-you-are-not-looking-at-it.html
- “Niels Bohr” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 25 August 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niels_Bohr
- Jeffers, Jason Lincoln, “Quantum Entanglement of the Universe,” (Venerabilis Opus, online essay, retrieved 1 September 2017), http://www.venerabilisopus.org/en/writings/pdf/0/32_quantum-entanglement-the-universal-consciousness.pdf
- Radin, Dean, “The Physics of Our Entanglements,” (Spirituality & Health, January 28, 2012), https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2012/01/28/physics-our-entanglements
- Hermann, Ray, “Quantum Entanglement: Wacky Physics or God’s Design?” (see above).
- Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), radical Dutch philosopher raised in the Spanish-Portuguese-Jewish community in Amsterdam.
“Baruch Spinoza”, (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 October 2022), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Spinoza
- “Pantheism” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 October 2022), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism
- “Awesome God”, artist: Michael W. Smith; album: Worship Forever!;written by Richard Mullins; Drumline arranged by Chris Leidhecker; orchestrated by David Hamilton, (© 1988 by Universal Music – Brentwood Benson, licensed by ASCAP, Capitol CMGP Publishing, others). Used under ‘fair use copyright’ for teaching under Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 — MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/sEZDuMGp3WY
4 thoughts on “Describing God and his Son – Not who, but WHAT are they?”
I think one should be very careful about stating that God is in everything. That is bringing him down into our understanding and is an aspect of pantheism. That way people can control God by stating where he is, when he is and what he is.
Christian theology opposes the ideas of pantheism. Christianity says that God created everything, not that he is everything or that everything is God.
Many well meaning Christians and pastors gloss over this without realizing the danger of misunderstanding and then promulgating this idea.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
So could you say that God is female or male…or should we not look at God as female or male…
Why do you think Jesus was male and not female..Both Adam and Eve ate from the tree…..
Your comment on this article is welcome; thank you. I would say that God is neither only male, nor only female, but has the attributes of both genders. Although God is usually described with the male pronoun in the Bible that is only because the scriptures were written during a patriarchal culture. This fact makes many feminists unhappy.
Most commentators believe Jesus was born a male, because he was ransoming Adam’s lost life, who was a male. Although Eve was Adam’s helper, it was Adam’s responsibility to make sure God’s laws were obeyed.
I should add that there are a few researchers who believe Jesus was born a hermaphrodite, containing both male and female sexual organs. If that was true, he would be representing both Adam AND Eve, who lost their lives because of sin.