HOW can God be known? After all, the universe is a huge place and any God who created it must be even bigger. How can our finite minds ever understand God? These issues must always be beyond us.
But as a Christian what if God, the infinite God, decided to reveal himself to the finite mind in a way that the finite mind could understand?
That seems to be reasonable to British cosmologist-theologian David Wilkinson. “In fact,” he said, “for Christianity it is the central tenet of what the Christian faith is all about. That is that God has revealed himself as the Book of Hebrews says, ‘In many and various ways,’ but supremely in his son Jesus.”
He added: “No one has ever seen God; ‘The only son, he has made him known.’ But the Christian claim is that God, the one who created the 100 billion stars and the 100 billion galaxies, can be known because he has come to us in a human being, Jesus.
“And as we look at Jesus we see God and I have to say to you that that has been my experience. That as I read the New Testament and then as having encountered the Risen Jesus, risen from the tomb on Easter Day and alive now for evermore, I have encountered the Creator God.”
The Rev Dr Wilkinson, an astrophysicist and ordained minister, who is also the Principal of St John’s College, University of Durham, was addressing fellow Methodists on the topic “God, the Big Bang and Stephen Hawking” at ACS (Independent) on May 21 – the first of his three evening talks organised as part of Aldersgate Convention 2007.
He said that the Christian understanding of the Creator God is not a God who has nothing to do with the universe. He is the God who sustains the universe every moment and its existence, whether it is 6,000 years old, or 13.7 billion years old, according to one estimation. Without God it would not exist. God is the one who keeps the universe in existence.
Who is this Jesus, he asked. “He is the one before the billions of galaxies. The billions and billions of stars were created in him, by him and for him. The problems of this planet, the nations, this church, my community, my life, are put into perspective by his supremacy.
“Just as Jesus is Lord of the galaxies he is also the one who holds all things together. That phrase is very important to scientists. Jesus is the one by whom the universe coheres. To explore the universe through science, its consistencies and laws, is to explore the one who sustains it. Science is a Christian ministry.”
JESUS: SUPREME IN RECONCILIATION
‘Jesus is supreme in reconciliation because this “total reconciliation” is achieved through his blood shed on the cross. As nothing of the fullness of God was left out of Jesus, so nothing is beyond his reconciling work. No one person or no one situation is beyond the cross.’
ALDERSGATE CONVENTION SPEAKER DAVID WILKINSON SAYS:
Reconciliation ‘can make the world a better place’
The Rev Dr Wilkinson was the keynote speaker at this year’s Aldersgate Convention from May 19 to 24. He addressed the theme, “The Heavens Declare His Glory: Science and Christian Faith,” through a full-day seminar divided equally for youth and adults, a series of three evening public talks and the Aldersgate Service, which rounded off the annual celebration for Singapore Methodists to affirm their unity in Christ as they gathered to explore their Wesleyan heritage.
There was active participation from the youth in their seminar which dealt with the topic “Jesus vs Aliens: The Pilgrim’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Many questions were also raised by the adults in their session on “Explaining Jesus in a High-tech World”.
In his second evening talk on May 22, the Rev Dr Wilkinson spoke on the topic “Are We Alone in the Universe? Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence and God”.
His take: There is no extra-terrestrial intelligent life in our universe. He also made the point that “extra-terrestrial intelligence does not pose a problem to Christian belief that men and women are special in the eyes of God. It may even increase the sense of awe at how great this God is, who loves His creatures so much.”
The final evening’s talk, entitled “Left Behind, Frozen or Fried? Hope in the face of the future of the Universe”, drew some 480 people.
Science, said the Rev Dr Wilkinson, is pessimistic about the future, but “our hope for the future is built on the belief that God who built this world will not let it go”.
“Our Christian hope is based on a God who brings about new creation. New creation is possible because of a Creator God,” he said, and quoted Isaiah 65: 17: “I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”
Delivering his sermon, “The Supremacy of Jesus”, at the Aldersgate Service at ACS (Independent) on May 24, the Rev Dr Wilkinson began by asking the congregation how we could make the world a better place, and what was the purpose of it all.
A hundred years ago, he said, the answer to the first question was simple – science, education and technology. Today, the dream of human progress is a nightmare, and he cited several examples for this state of affairs, including the abuse of the environment.
He then made three points about the supremacy of Jesus – Jesus is supreme in revelation, in creation and in reconciliation.
On the first point, he said Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), the projection of God himself into the dimensions of space-time in a way that reveals his true nature.
On the second point, he said Jesus “is the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15). “Here God’s creative work is expressed not through a concept but through a person.”
And Jesus is supreme in reconciliation because this “total reconciliation” is achieved through his blood shed on the cross. “As nothing of the fullness of God was left out of Jesus, so nothing is beyond his reconciling work. No one person or no one situation is beyond the cross.”
So how can the world be made a better place? Reconciliation.
“Reconciliation with God can achieve lasting peace in today’s complex world.
“Women and men, organisations and governments need to turn to God through repentance and faith,” the Rev Dr Wilkinson concluded.