Concepts of God

By Hoyt H. Houchen

In a recent column of the Denver Post, there was an account of a Daytona Beach, Florida couple who had interviewed some children 5-7 years of age about their religious concepts, namely, who God is. Some of their replies are most interesting, some fantastical, others reasonable. Such responses about God were: “He gives parties,” “a ghost, a millionaire,” “a magician,” “the smartest person in the world,” and “me.” Although these concepts of God, formed in the imaginative minds of small children have the humorous aspect, most of them also reflect an obvious lack of teaching upon the part of their parents or guardians. The child is only left to his own little dream world of fantasy to “make believe” what he can about God.

One little boy who was being interviewed was asked if he went to Sunday school and if his parents went to church. His reply was “nope.” When asked if he had heard of God, he said that he had heard of Him from some of the “kids.” What he heard from the “kids” was the use of Gods name in such language that should not be repeated here or elsewhere.

Homes are legion that are without a consciousness that God even exists, much less a teaching upon His attributes and a respect for His divine authority. It is no wonder that we have a society that is corrupt with drug addiction, alcoholism, mob violence, and every vile deed. “As the twig is bent, so is the tree.”

Following the death of Joshua, “There arose another generation after them that knew not Jehovah . . .” (Judges 1:10). The children of Israel forsook Jehovah and followed other gods; they served Baal and the Ashtaroth (vv. 11-13). It should well be remembered that God does not leave man but man leaves God, and when he does he is left to his own reasoning, which results in every imagination of the heart-the identical condition which existed in the time of Noah (Gen. 6: 5).

Paul enumerated the pernicious sins of the Gentiles in Romans 1. They had once known God, but they “glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened” (vs. 21). Having left God, they 16 refused to have God in their knowledge” (vs. 28). A. T. Robertson comments on this last phrase: “Like an old abandoned building, the home of bats and snakes, like the night clubs of modern cities, the dives and dens of the underworld, without God and in the darkness of unrestrained animal impulses” (Word Pictures in the N. T., Vol. 4, p. 331). When men do not have God in their knowledge, they are left to “do their own thing” without restraint and man becomes a senseless being with no goal but to satisfy his every sinful lust.

On the more optimistic side, all the answers from the children interviewed were not fanciful. A little girl said that she was like God because she was made in His image. Another said that God is “a Spirit” and that he does “everything. – – He runs the world … He makes it work.” When asked what about making things die, she responded: “Thats not really bad because people dont die forever.” These answers are not bad from anybody and they indicate some idea of what is revealed about God in the Bible.

Unless people learn that God exists and mans proper relationship to Him, we are destined to become a society of criminals, characterized by bate, plunder, and abuse. Children must be taught that God is, that He must be respected, that the Bible is His inspired and revealed word, and that His laws must be obeyed.

Parents, what do your children know about God?

May 4, 1972