Two Rival Concepts of God

He commanded and they were created.
He established them for ever and ever;
He fixed their bounds which cannot be passed.
Psalm 148:5-6

   Broadly speaking, when it comes to philosophies and religions, one either believes in God (or gods) or not. Here is where I give New Agers some credit. 

   New Agers, for all their faults, at least recognize deity and the spiritual nature of mankind. That is more than can be said about our materialistic, atheistic, mechanistic friends. At least New Agers recognize that we have personhood and believe in divine power. Now, they may believe that everything has personhood and divinity – that is a different problem. It is this massive confusion about the nature of God that I wish to address here.

   In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis distinguishes between two rival concepts of God. Some people believe that divinity is beyond good and evil and that if you are ‘enlightened’, like the Narnian ‘discoverer’, Uncle Andrew, or the Jedi knight, Yoda, you realize that good and evil are really just the same power. New Agers believe that long before the meditation guru ‘attains oneness with divinity’ the distinction between good and evil disappears entirely. This is the Pantheistic idea of ‘God’.

   Others believe that God is Goodness, Justice, and Love - that He desires us to be in communion with Him and commands that we act a certain way if we want to be happy. This is the Judeo-Christian God – the God of Righteousness and Truth – the God who reveals Himself through His Church and through His Word.

   C.S. Lewis explains that with this big difference between Pantheism and the Christian idea of God, there usually goes another: "Pantheists usually believe that God, so to speak, animates the universe as you animate your body: that the universe almost is God, so that if it did not exist He would not exist either, and anything you find in the universe is a part of God."

   The Christian idea of God is very different. Jews and Christians believe that God invented the universe, much like a musician composes a symphony or an architect designs a building, only, God created everything out of nothing. God is separate from His creation. He is its author and the source.

   God saw that it was good and His hand is still in creation – breathing life and upholding all that exists. The age old question, “Why would a good God permit evil to exist in the world” is answered for us in the Bible.  Evil entered the world through the will of another (Satan) and God permitted it without willing it. Man fell into the devil’s trap and consequently suffers greatly – a theme we will explore another time. The primary fact to be recognized at this point, however, is that good and evil are at odds.

   Now, if the world contains evil and God is all good, we can’t say that the world is part of God. We can only claim that ‘God is the world and the world is God’ if good and evil are meaningless terms. But if God is a God of goodness and righteousness, C.S. Lewis affirms, we must believe that God and the world are separate

   Poison ivy oil, disease causing bacteria, and cancer are not willed by God for our demise. There are a lot of things that have gone wrong with the world. To believe that everything in the world is God or even of God is false. There are real, disordered corruptions in the world and God is not to blame. In fact, God, in His righteousness, demands of us that we put them to right.

   Through our sense of right and wrong God has oriented us toward this understanding. If God was truly beyond good and evil, he would not have created us with the rational ability to judge between good and bad. He would not have endowed us with the human capacity to feel outrage when we encounter the evil of injustice.


   Therefore, God is God and His creation (including us!) is not. If you doubt this, reread the Book of Job. The main point of this dialogue between Job and God is that Job doesn’t know why he is suffering because he doesn’t know the mind of God. He isn’t God. The tangible transcendence of God in this story illustrates the fact that God is distinct from His creation, and He made us for Himself, not the other way around.

   As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, "You have made us for Yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."

   How does this practically apply to essential oil use? We will never find health and happiness through our own power. God created us to depend on Him. When we try to find happiness through our own power without conforming our plan to God’s plan, we find we are only miserable.

   Put positively: God created plants for our health and nourishment. We should use them with gratefulness to God - the provider of our needs.

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