By Rich Holland
Faculty, College of Theology
Can the idea that God can be energy fit into Christianity?
Your question is one of the most important kinds of questions that can be asked. When we ask, “What is God like?” the answer will shape our thinking about everything else and will also impact our behavior and the choices we make in life. The quick answer to your question is this: No. The idea of God as energy is not compatible with Christianity. While some people do think that God is energy, this idea doesn’t fit with what the Bible teaches us about who God is. Let me explain:
Some non-Christian perspectives do hold to the idea that God is “energy,” or at least they conceive of God in a way that is compatible with that idea. Pantheism and panentheism are two we might think of in this regard – perhaps these would be comfortable with the idea of God as energy. We also see the concept in science fiction, with at least one popular franchise asserting that there is a powerful energy force that resides in all living things; and perhaps this idea was inspired by real-life beliefs about God.
But in order to find out whether this concept fits with Christianity, we simply need to look to the descriptions of God found in the Bible. Christians do think that God is all-powerful and that He is present everywhere. Those two ideas alone might fit with the idea of God as energy; but as soon as we look closer at the biblical descriptions of who God is, we quickly see that God is not energy.
First, Scripture tells us that God is distinct from the universe. The first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1 tells us that God has created everything – including all matter and energy. This means that God can’t be identical to the universe, nor can He be identical to any aspect of the universe. Since energy is part of the created universe, we must conclude that God can’t be energy.
Second, Scripture tells us that God is personal. I suppose some might say that even though God is not the energy in the universe, He still might be energy of some kind or another. But this can’t be the case, because the Bible tells us that God has plans and works to bring those plans about (Genesis 12:7); God speaks (Exodus 19:8); God enters into covenant relationships with individuals and groups of people (Genesis 6:18); God loves people (Romans 5:8). Energy can’t do any of these things.
Finally, Scripture makes it clear that God has revealed himself most fully in the person of Jesus Christ. John’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus is God who took on human nature to live with us on earth (John 1:1-14), to declare to us who God is. Colossians 2:9 says that in Christ is the fullness of the Godhead. When we reflect on the person of Jesus Christ as being the most clear and full revelation of who God is, we see that God cannot be energy. Instead, He is the all-powerful, perfectly good, personal creator of everything, who loves you and me, who wants to have a relationship with us and who has given Jesus Christ as the fullest revelation of who He is.
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