Back to Posts
May 16, 2022

The Proof for a Personal God

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

Sometimes God feels like more of a concept than a person. 

… and, although we can know a lot about him, it’s impossible to have a relationship with a concept.

For example, we can’t share our hearts with the law of gravity. 

The Pythagorean theorem doesn’t care about our worries and fears. 

When we reduce God to a concept, it becomes impossible to experience a personal connection with him. As a result, God feels distant and uninvolved, and our faith feels dry. 

When we feel like God is far away, sometimes we conclude that God reveals himself personally to other people, but he doesn’t reveal himself to us. This can breed resentment against God, as we wonder why he seems to choose favorites.

This can be really confusing and harmful, because it causes us to question who God is and what his character is really like. 

In this article, we make a historical and logical case for a personal God. After you finish reading, you will have more tools to experience a personal relationship with God. 

Once we recognize him as a God who is deeply invested in our hearts and in our lives, it becomes so much easier to surrender the things troubling us and become completely his. 

Discover the Amazing Riches of the Catholic Faith

What We Believe presents and explains the essential teachings of the Catholic Faith in a readable, approachable way.

See a free preview!

Spiritual but Not Religious

Some atheists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries leveled the charge that the God of the Bible was just another projection of humanity, made in man’s image and likeness. They alleged that the religion of the Bible was just as childish as that of the Greeks and Romans.

As scientific discoveries proliferated during these centuries and awareness of powerful forces of nature increased, the idea became more popular that the Creator is an impersonal force standing at the origin of the universe, holding it all together. This has been popularized in many ways, including the Star Wars franchise with its greeting “May the Force be with you.”

Some identify this force with energy or with the universe as a whole. For these persons, spirituality is simply awareness of our oneness with this force, this energy, this universal soul. 

Many people now have begun to identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Some imagine that this god-energy orders the universe but doesn’t really have any interest in our everyday lives

After death, our personalities will just dissolve and merge back into this powerful but impersonal life-force.

A Personal God

The name for that belief is pantheism, from a Greek expression meaning that everything equals god. Some people think such a conception is more sophisticated and scientific than the traditional idea of a personal God. 

But if God is the Creator, he can’t be simply the sum of all created things. He must be uncreated and infinitely superior to all that he has created, not identical to it. 

The image of heaven is a way of getting this across—that God is transcendent, of a higher order, the Most High, far surpassing all created things. The Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was fond of putting it this way: There is an infinite qualitative difference between us and God.But pantheism is not as reasonable as it sounds. The highest order of being that we know of is personal being. Person implies self-consciousness, intellect, and will. In other words, a personal being is truly free. An impersonal force lacks these things. It may be powerful, like gravity, but if it lacks intellect, will, and therefore freedom, it is actually less perfect than we are, not more. God is, by definition, the supreme being. He must then, be more personal than we are, not less. When we become fully his, we become fully our own, and He always invites us closer to him.

Discover the Amazing Riches of the Catholic Faith

What We Believe presents and explains the essential teachings of the Catholic Faith in a readable, approachable way.

See a free preview!

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio (“Dr. Italy”) received his Ph.D. in historical theology from The Catholic University of America under the direction of Avery Cardinal Dulles and has had a prolific career as a Catholic author, internationally-respected speaker, pilgrimage leader, and university professor. He is the Co-founder and Director of The Crossroads Initiative, the author of five books and hundreds of articles, and a regular guest on both secular and Catholic TV and radio programs. In 2004, Dr. D’Ambrosio co-authored the New York Times bestseller A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about The Passion of the Christ with Ascension Founder Matt Pinto. In 2019, Dr. D’Ambrosio published the groundbreaking Bible study on the life of Jesus Christ filmed in the Holy Land, Jesus: The Way, the Truth, and the Life, presenting alongside Jeff Cavins and Dr. Edward Sri. He is also the co-author and presenter of What We Believe: The Beauty of the Catholic Faith.

Has Ascension's free media strengthened your faith?
You can now offer ongoing support for this content with a recurring gift.
Support Ascension

Get your favorite Ascension content sent right to your email!

  • I don’t think that an impersonal, logical argument (that relies on defining God as superior and personal) such as this makes a very persuasive case. And I’d think that exploring the “Body of Christ” would be much more resonant as a point of discussion for things like “the force” than just assigning it to “pantheism.”

  • Your mission to encourage and grow personal relationships with our Lord our God so needed. Thank You.

  • This sounds very intelligent and interesting for clearly understanding of not only WHAT a personal relationship with God is…but his one might obtain that personal relationship. I like it!!

  • >