Tag Archives: deity

Logical Gal and why you want a PERSONAL God

20 Aug

How ‘personal’ is your God?  Does it matter?

Christian theologians will tell you that the God of the Bible is personal and not impersonal.  Those terms have always been a bit foggy to me.  Maybe you’re like me – not quite sure what kind of difference that makes in one’s deity.

But like anything that adds value in life, if you want richness and depth, you need to dig in and spend some time THINKING.

I teach school and am used to students JUST seeking a quick answer.  They don’t want to take the time and THINK for themselves, because thinking requires effort.


But not THIS much effort!

Let’s exercise the gray cells and ponder what the concept of ‘personal’ might include.

Let’s consider the arena of personal fitness, for example.  Just what does a personal trainer do?  He or she:

  • focuses on you by listening to your concerns and your desires
  • assesses where you are
  • creates a plan just for you
  • teaches you the program, watching to see that you get it
  • exercises patience
  • innovates when the original exercises don’t quite do the job
  • applauds your improvement whether you are a recovering stroke patient learning to walk again or a marathon runner wanting to improve time
  • genuinely feels pleasure and satisfaction when his or her client moves closer to the stated goal

Even more important, someone who is personal in whatever capacity of interaction acts INDEPENDENTLY, exercising free will.  There is nothing mechanistic or deterministic about personal attention.

Personal waitor

The meal this couple is being served is a far cry from an impersonal vending machine, wouldn’t you say?

So, let’s now think about what it means to say that God is a personal God.  First, consider what an IMpersonal god might be like. There would be only one way for ‘it’ to act, given a set of circumstances. There would be no individual attention, no taking into consideration our weaknesses and frailties.  There would be a one-size fits all series of events triggered by circumstances.  The code might be complicated, but whether I was Nancy Sue Smith or Alice Marie Jones, as long as I fit the parameters, the god would respond the same. And we wouldn’t get the sense that ‘it’ had emotions and cared one way or the other.

Au contraire, a personal God is one who (not THAT):

  • devotes Himself to His creation
  • desires our best
  • longs for us to be with Him
  • angers over sin because it harms us
  • protects us from evil
  • plans good things for us
  • delights and boasts in us
  • sees through our flimsy deceptions by looking at our hearts
  • considers himself Father which directly implies an individual relationship

God loved

  • and someone who loves
  • therefore, someone who dies for His creation

To actually FEEL the difference, think for a moment about what an impersonal deity would be like. Among what would be missing, other than all the above, here are two aspects that matter to me:

  • what I would miss most is the sense that the creator of the universe actually cared for me, that He empathized with my weakness, that he understood and that He had a plan for my good for the rest of eternity
  • there also would be no purpose to my life other than as a mechanistic cog in a system

And I’ve only scratching the surface.

Vending Machine God

Question:  If you are a theist, do you believe that God is a personal or impersonal force?  Why?