God as Spirit in a World of Science
I’ve recently concluded that an important place to begin thinking about how God acts in our world is to think carefully about what it means to say with Jesus, “God is spirit.”
Most Christians believe Jesus of Nazareth provides the best clues for knowing truth about God. Jesus reveals these clues in his life, teachings, miracles, compassion, death, and resurrection.
Although Christians believe other clues about divine action are present in creation because God acts as initial and continual Creator, they try to be especially attuned to the revelation of God manifest in Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible.
One particular passage has captured my imagination recently. Jesus says, “The wind blows where it chooses. You hear the sound of it, but you do not know from where it comes and to where it goes.”
These words come just prior to a biblical passage familiar to many Christians: John 3:16. In this passage, Jesus tells an inquiring scholar he must be born again.
The scholar asks how an adult could return to his mother’s womb. Jesus answers by saying this second birth derives from the Spirit.
Biblical translators render the Greek word, pneuma, as “wind” or “Spirit” in this passage. The word refers to moving air (wind), to the divine Spirit, or both.
I believe this passage about wind/Spirit can contribute to the work of constructing a theory of divine action consonant with Christian scripture and much 21st century science. Of course, other passages of Scripture are helpful too.
In a series of forthcoming blogs, I want to sketch out a theory of divine action in light of scripture and contemporary science and philosophy. My hope is that the theology of nature that emerges can help us all think more clearly about God as creator and redeemer in a world of wonder.