Listening to the silent God

I’ve been talking about God’s general plans for our lives. But what about the times when we feel we need more specific divine direction and guidance?

Or to widen it out a little, how can we ever hear from a God who tends not to speak in an audible voice or communicate in everyday human speech?

Not being able to hear from God is something of a problem, it seems to me. Communication is the basis of any meaningful relationship. Admittedly, it’s not the only thing; sometimes silent presence is enough. It can be enough just to know we’re known and held and loved. But without two-way communication, it’s hard to sustain any relationship long-term – particularly one where you can’t even see the other party.

The communication from us to God isn’t a problem. We can pray any time we like, expressing whatever we feel. It’s the communication in the other direction that’s so puzzling, tantalising, frustrating. And it’s particularly difficult when we’re desperate to hear something from God – perhaps an answer to prayer, a word of encouragement or comfort, guidance for a major life decision, or instruction for how to handle a tricky situation.

Sola scriptura?

Now, of course, we have the Bible, and we have the model and words of Jesus. Evangelicals (and not only they) would argue that the Bible is God’s primary and normal means of communicating with us.

To which I’d respond, yes, but it’s not really direct or personal communication if it’s just the general words of Scripture, mostly addressed originally to someone else over 2000 years ago in a very different situation from our own.

To which the reply would doubtless be that the Holy Spirit speaks creatively and afresh to each of us through the words of Scripture. In this way God brings out new nuances of meaning that can address our situation directly, as though the words were written to and for us, here and now.

I do actually agree with this, but it’s only rarely that I experience such direct communication through the Bible. (Though to be fair, I might experience more if I read it more.)

And I’d also add that Scripture is often very far from crystal clear and easy to interpret, whatever the fundamentalists might proclaim. And we’re unlikely to get direct, specific instruction from the Bible relating to particular questions we have or decisions we have to take – for example, which job or school or house to go for. We might get obliquely relevant advice, but it can often be read more than one way. The Bible isn’t a horoscope.

Picking up the signal

In any case, clearly God doesn’t only speak through the Bible; he’s not limited to that means of communication. He spoke directly to the people in the Bible after all. I believe that God can and does speak to us in a variety of ways by his Spirit, but it’s just not always easy for us to pick up these messages.

(As an aside, I recently read something by Rick Warren saying that God will only speak to you if you have determined beforehand that you will say yes. I strongly disagree with this. Even in the Bible, a lot of people God spoke to weren’t too sure at first, or argued the toss with him, or even said no. Moses, Gideon and Jonah all spring to mind.)

Sometimes I feel like listening to God is like listening to a radio signal, but it feels like there’s a problem with my receiver, or that I haven’t worked out how to tune into his signal or distinguish it from the background noise. And even when I do on rare occasions manage to pick up the signal, I still need to decipher or decode the message, which I’m not sure how to do.

And sometimes it’s perhaps not so much picking up a message as listening to the silence, and discerning the type or quality of that silence…

Another way of looking at it might be that God’s silence is actually an over-abundance of communication (an idea I got from Christian post-modern philosopher Pete Rollins). Perhaps God’s speaking so much all the time that we just experience it as white noise and don’t hear the individual ‘words’.

And there’s the psalmist’s idea that ‘day and night the heavens pour forth speech’; that all creation is communicating all the time, but silently or in ways that we haven’t learnt to pick up. Perhaps.

Solving the puzzles

Or again, sometimes listening to God can feel a bit like solving a cryptic crossword puzzle or a detective mystery. It requires work and effort and lateral thinking. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a lot of cryptic crossword setters are clergymen.

So why does God make it so tricky for us to work out what he’s saying? I’m not sure, but I suspect that it’s partly because if we’re to gain true understanding, we need to work stuff out for ourselves rather than being spoon-fed. God quietly leads and subtly guides us, but like any good parent he won’t do everything for us, nor give us everything we want on a plate.

Natural speech

Going back to the skies pouring forth speech, I think God’s primary means of communication to us outside the Bible is through secondary natural agents. In other words, God speaks and acts through nature, through other people, through the events and circumstances of our lives, and of course through our own thoughts and consciences.

Some report that God speaks to them through dreams; this has rarely if ever been my experience, but God uses different ways for each of us. Others set great store by ‘signs’, but I wouldn’t, unless the number of signs mounts up to the extent that it’s impossible to ignore.

Sometimes we may have the sense of God guiding us by what the Christian cliché calls ‘opening doors’ (new opportunities arising) or conversely ‘closing doors’ (choices taken away from us by circumstance or others’ decisions).

Again, sometimes we can be led by an inner sense of rightness or peace about the path we’ve chosen – or else the opposite. But I don’t think we can fully rely on this; neither our circumstances nor our feelings are necessarily reliable indicators of God’s will.

One way I think I’ve occasionally experienced God’s cryptic communication has been through odd coincidences while (or just after) I’ve been praying. I may have been asking about a particular issue in my life, and then I’ve looked up and spotted something which seems oddly (if tangentially) relevant. It’s often hard to work out what if anything these odd coincidences mean; perhaps nothing. But perhaps at the least they may be signs that God is listening.

God of the disruptions

I can’t take credit for this idea, but I also think that God often speaks to us through the unexpected and the disruptive. The idea is that God is not so much in our personal agendas and programmes (even our Christian ones), but is rather that which annoyingly and inconveniently interrupts those agendas and disrupts those programmes. Sometimes we need to look for God in the irksome and the irritating, the problematic and even the painful. He seems to like throwing spanners into our orderly works, and sending us off course.

Again, God is rarely what we’re looking at or attending to directly. He lurks just out of sight, just beneath the visible surface of our lives and plans. You almost have to learn to see God out of the corner of your eye, on the fringe of your consciousness.

And I think we have to be open to God speaking to us through all things and all people, including atheists, those of other faiths, and people whose lifestyles or politics we strongly disagree with. I think God particularly enjoys using the unlikeliest and most unattractive people to speak to us; it humbles us, and maybe appeals to his sense of humour.

God told me?

Of course, some Christians (particularly charismatics) do claim that God speaks to them pretty much all the time, directing or instructing them in the specifics of life. I can’t comment on this, apart from to say that it’s not my own experience and I tend to be very suspicious of any claims of ‘God told me…’

I’ve only met one person who I believe had a genuine prophetic gift, and I don’t think he experienced it as an unmixed blessing. For the vast majority of us, I think we have to be generally content with far more indirect, equivocal and cryptic divine communication.

So keep your eyes and ears open…

Advertisements

About TheEvangelicalLiberal

Aka Harvey Edser. I'm a web editor, worship leader, wannabe writer, very amateur composer and highly unqualified armchair theologian. My heroes include C.S. Lewis and Homer Simpson.
This entry was posted in Faith, Prayer, Spirituality, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Listening to the silent God

  1. lotharson says:

    Lovely Harvey (you don’t mind me calling you that, right?), I have found a wonderful way to read your long post while sparing time:
    using https://www.yakitome.com

    Isn’t life marvelous at times? 😉

    I don’t see any reason to believe that God speaks more through the Bible than through all Christian books written from the fourth century.

    I guess this is the reason why I am not an Evangelical 🙂

    Otherwise I wrote a post about a challenge against Christianity called the Outsider Test for Faith and I would warmly welcome your comment.

    I generally really like your participation in my blog and find that you bring up an additional intelligent and sensible Christian voice to the discussions.

    I have a vital question. You are an open theist, right?
    If I assiduously pray day and night for a Skype conversation with you, is it possible that the Almighty will influence your will and heart to bring about that (highly desirable) outcome?

    Like

    • Life is indeed marvellous, and I’m sure you were directly guided to YAKiToMe by the Lord in order to hear my divinely inspired utterances. Did you choose the soothing electronic voice of Audrey to read me to you?

      I’m probably very slightly more evangelical than you, as I would rate the Bible above other Christian books – particularly the gospels and Acts, as primary sources for Jesus’ character and teaching, and the founding of the church. But I certainly don’t subscribe to ‘inerrant’ and all that malarkey.

      I’ve just had a look at your Outsider Test for Faith post, and while your posts are shorter than mine they are considerably more intellectually demanding! As a simple student of English, I find it very hard to get my head around all the maths, logic and Bayesian probability concepts. But I’ll do my best to leave a comment that doesn’t merely reveal my deep ignorance!

      I think I’m an open theist, yes. And it’s certainly possible that God will influence my will and heart to bring about the outcome you desire. However, more to the point would be if he were to influence my circumstances, as it’s not really my willingness that’s lacking but rather my availability! 🙂

      Like

  2. Gary H. says:

    you’re on to something here Harvey. The blog ended somewhat abruptly, I encourage you to keep developing your thoughts around this topic. It’s been my experience that as life crushes in and I seek God and I encounter the silence, and am reminded about the 400 year silence after the book of Micah before God breaks through. Here in the US telling fellow believers, who are mostly conservative evangelical, about the “silence” usually results in being given a list of “to do’s” in order to hear God. Of course we here are so concerned about success that it breeds into our thinking about our christian walk. We think me must be living a “successful” christian life. Its embarrassing not to! (Rick Warren example) So I think the theological tension between God numbering the hairs on our head and His silence is very intriguing. keep thinking and keep writing! ps. that “successful” or “victorious” christian living seems to be a juicy topic for you to speak on!

    Like

    • Thanks Gary! Yes, I did end a little abruptly – I was aware that (as usual) it had turned into a very long post, and also I’d exhausted my limited stock of knowledge on the subject. So I thought I’d cut my losses and end there… with an abrupt silence 🙂

      I agree with your analysis about the divine silence, and the drive for success that seeps into our Christian living, leading to endless ‘to do’ lists and techniques. I’ll definitely add ‘successful Christian living’ to the list of ideas brewing for future posts…

      Like

    • PS re God’s silence, when you look at the Old Testament, God’s direct communications with his people are fairly few and far between – at least the officially recorded ones. They mostly seem to come either when he’s initiating something new, or else more commonly when his people have gone way off track and he’s warning them to get back with the programme sharpish…

      Like

  3. Saila Namai says:

    I will for the sake of argument accept the premise that god(s) exist.
    As for the various possible channels of receiving communication. Wouldn’t it be entirely possible that all of them are true. After all god might choose the method of communication based on which he deems best in a particular situation and to a specific person.

    But where i want to jump in is the “God told me?” section. What if we put that in a broader context. If one person receives communication, in any of the ways, from god. Then other persons are potential receivers as well. What if people were to come to different conclusions on the same topic based on said communication. For the sake of argument i will even assume that everyone is genuine about the received communication. Who is right? The experience is so individual it can not be replicated. There is now way to convincingly forward the communication to another. We have no way of determining if there is (moral) truth to any statement made in that spirit. So what application would communication from god have other then to the individual receiver? Can it have any at all? I guess god could have sparked discussion on a certain topic by giving us differing communiques. While somewhat possible it does not really satisfy. What do you think?

    Like

    • Hi Saila, thanks very much for your comment. You raise some very interesting questions, which it would take a whole post – or indeed a book – to respond to properly. I can only really sketch out the beginnings of a reply.

      Re ‘God told me’ – as I said in my post, I’m very sceptical of anyone who makes this claim. I think the best we can say is ‘I think that God may have been trying to say this – what do you think?’

      I believe that there are a very few people who have a genuine gift of prophecy or insight – in other words, they can ‘know’ certain things that they cannot have found out through any natural means. The test of this is simply whether their insight is accurate or not, or whether their ‘prophecy’ proves to be true.

      I think the questions you raise can apply (to an extent) to all communication that involves humans, not just communication from God. We can hardly ever be 100% sure of what we’ve heard or sure that we’ve correctly understood it. Four eyewitnesses viewing the same event will report it in different (even contradictory) ways. Four people hearing the same statement will interpret it in different ways.

      When it comes to divine communication, I think we can apply some basic tests. So for Christians, a ‘word’ from God would have to accord with the character and purposes of God as revealed in Jesus Christ – in other words, love, goodness, redemption, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, wisdom. If we think we have received a word from God but it contradicts that character, it’s unlikely to be from the Christian God. Or if the message seems completely implausible or unreasonable, or to contradict nature, then it’s probably unlikely to be authentic.

      Also, we need to look at the manner and purpose of the communication. Is it just meant for the recipient, as personal guidance or encouragement or warning? Or does it have a wider audience? If so, I would expect further confirmation – perhaps the same communication being delivered to a number of other people.

      We also have to assess the trustworthiness of the recipient of the communication – are they generally honest? Are they delusional in other areas of life? Do they have a strong personal agenda?

      So I think there are ways we can begin to evaluate the validity of supposed communications from God. But we’re probably never going to be 100% certain.

      All the best,
      Harvey

      Like

      • Saila Namai says:

        “Re ‘God told me’ – as I said in my post, I’m very sceptical of anyone who makes this claim. I think the best we can say is ‘I think that God may have been trying to say this – what do you think?’”
        I think this road leads to pure speculation. I myself am not able to extract any value from such a statement to be honest. But i think its the only way to voice such a claim within the context of your article. So yes, agreed.

        “I believe that there are a very few people who have a genuine gift of prophecy or insight…”
        I think there is an absolute number of people with the gift of prophecy and that number is zero.That does however not mean they don’t genuinly believe themselves or that sometimes it just seems too coincidental. Funny thing about coincidence is how our brain processes it. Would you have guessed that you only need 23 people to have a higher then 50% chance of two birthdays coinciding on the same day?

        “I think the questions you raise can apply (to an extent) to all communication that involves humans, not just communication from God…”
        Agreed. Just a small point. It is much easier to get people to clarify what they meant.
        “Four eyewitnesses viewing the same event will report it in different (even contradictory) ways.”
        There is a remarkable field test from Havard Law on the reliability of eye witness statements. Which fully supports you but i can’t seem to find it at the moment.

        “When it comes to divine communication, I think we can apply some basic tests. So for Christians, a ‘word’ from God would have to accord with the character and purposes of God as revealed in Jesus Christ – in other words, love, goodness, redemption, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, wisdom. If we think we have received a word from God but it contradicts that character, it’s unlikely to be from the Christian God. Or if the message seems completely implausible or unreasonable, or to contradict nature, then it’s probably unlikely to be authentic.”
        The problem i see with these qualifications is that they are all very subjective. One persons interpretation might not match that of another. For example can euthanasia be mercyful or is it categorically wrong? But on a more distinct note i shall agree. If you were to interpret the signs as a message to kill someone, its a pretty safe bet they are not divine. What would be the source then?

        “Also, we need to look at the manner and purpose of the communication. Is it just meant for the recipient, as personal guidance or encouragement or warning? Or does it have a wider audience? If so, I would expect further confirmation – perhaps the same communication being delivered to a number of other people.”
        I disagree with “personal signs”. Because if there are signs. Someone receives them. Interprets them. He is compelled to action. And that action is most likely to affect others. Of course that can be just a nuissance, but it can also be very profound. And if you wanted to reach a broader audience. Why not show different people the same signs. Maybe at the same time or even better, the exact same signs at different times. That would make for a truely remarkable “coincidence”.

        “We also have to assess the trustworthiness of the recipient of the communication – are they generally honest? Are they delusional in other areas of life? Do they have a strong personal agenda?”
        Agreed. But this is such a huge chapter on its own. I think we should limit ourselves (for the purpose of this argument) to honest people.

        “So I think there are ways we can begin to evaluate the validity of supposed communications from God. But we’re probably never going to be 100% certain.”
        Begin to evaluate and never going to be 100% certain being the operative terms here. I’m interested to see where your train of thought leads you.

        Best wishes, Saila

        Like

        • Hi Saila, thanks for your response, and sorry for my long delay in replying!

          Again, you raise a lot of great points and it’s hard to do them full justice in a single blog comment.

          I should say that I’m partially agnostic on the whole question of hearing from God, as I also am on the subject of miracles. I believe in God for all sorts of reasons, and I believe that it’s possible for God to communicate with us. I even believe that he has communicated in the past, and may still communicate now.

          However, in any given instance where someone (including myself) claims to have heard a message from God, I would be agnostic and would tend towards being sceptical. I would not expect complete proof (I don’t see how that’s possible), but I would be unlikely to accept that someone had heard from God just on their say-so. However, if a number of other things independently substantiated the claim, I might be more inclined to pay attention.

          You say that you don’t believe there are any people with the gift of prophecy (i.e. hearing genuine messages from God). You may be right. But if someone appears to receive specific knowledge of things that they could not find out by natural means, then I’m inclined to think they might have some kind of unusual gift, whether you call it prophetic or psychic. I have known someone who had such a gift – he ‘saw’ things about people or situations which then turned out to be accurate.

          Of course there are charlatans, and there may also always be natural explanations that we don’t yet know. So I remain agnostic on this, but with an open mind.
          You ask about where supposedly divine messages come from if they (say) tell you to kill someone. I would say that I don’t know for sure. They may come from some source of evil, or they may simply come from the subconscious mind.

          Unfortunately, I think that a strong element of subjectivity is inevitable in this kind of analysis. We can’t ever be sure beyond all doubt that we’ve heard or experienced something truly supernatural or divine. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any genuine supernatural experience. It just means that we have to be cautious about any given reported instance. As a safety measure, I’d always want to err on the side of scepticism – without completely ruling out the possibility that it might be genuine.

          I’m sorry if all this isn’t very clear or helpful. I wish I could offer more certainty and clarity, but that’s just not the kind of world we currently live in!

          Please feel free to ask more questions and I’ll do my best to reply.

          Best wishes,
          Harvey

          Like

  4. I would like to ask you as a person who used to agonize long and hard over this: does it ever bother you that all of your listening to a faulty radio signal or searching for god out of the corners of your eyes might just be searching for validation of your own confirmation bias? I mean, if your routine is startlingly interrupted at a time when you are trying to learn something from god, it may seem like divine intervention. But all of the other times that your routines were startlingly interrupted get forgotten because you never attached any significance to them. As such, the moments you “hear from god” might just be illusions of something unusual when the events that lead to it are actually very mundane. I hope I’m making myself clear.

    As a former fundamentalist, great emphasis was placed on “hearing from god” for me from all the methods you listed. Scripture, feelings, events, experiences, dreams and prophecies were all possibilities. But I quickly learned, when a divisive topic came up, that everyone was apparently “hearing” from a different god. My family would say with conviction “god is clearly telling you that you should leave this sinful homosexual lifestyle” while I was saying “god is clearly telling me that my sexuality was created by him and is approved by him.” Both of us could list powerful experiences to support what god was telling us… and I am now convinced that neither of us were hearing anything except our own biases. Indeed. every method of “hearing from god” is a psychological tactic that is DESIGNED to give you the answer you want… or at least one you will believe. If you want to hear from god, you will. Our minds are good at picking up patterns that don’t exist and imposing order and meaning where there is none. So how can you ever really be confident that you are hearing from god? And what safeguards do you put in place to make sure that these “messages from god” aren’t causing you to harm or misguide yourself or others?

    I’d love a response, and thank you for your time!

    Like

    • Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to comment in such depth! You raise excellent and very important points, and I fear I won’t be able to do them justice in a short comment.

      What I would say straight off is that I’m semi-agnostic about hearing from God. I do hold out hope that God can and may possibly communicate with us, and there have been a few times when I’ve felt that he may possibly have been trying to speak to me. But it’s certainly not something I’m at all sure about.

      I have Christian friends and acquaintances who seem very confident that God speaks to them directly on a fairly regular basis. I envy them, but it’s not an experience I share. For me, if there is any communication it’s almost always of the indirect, corner-of-your-eye sort which can easily be missed and which may well be nothing more than a figment of one’s imagination.

      I totally agree with you that humans are incorrigible meaning-seekers and pattern-finders – I’ve blogged this thought myself before. We want things to have a meaning and we’re very good at reading signs and messages that aren’t really there – like spotting faces in wallpaper patterns.

      However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing does ever have a meaning, or that there are no signs or signals to be read. But it does mean we have to be very careful before pronouncing something to be the ‘word of God’.

      I think your point about the validation of your own bias is a very good one. However, I’ve had occasional times when what I felt to be the possible ‘voice’ of God was going entirely against my prejudices and preconceptions – and/or going beyond my natural knowledge. These are the times when I feel most inclined to give credence to such a ‘voice’ or message. But still I’d be cautious.

      So I certainly hope I would never now say to anyone ‘God says this’ or ‘this is what the Lord is telling you’. I might say ‘my current understanding is this, based on such and such’ but I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) preach to anyone about anything with any absolute certainty. Particularly not on subjects that could harm or misguide.

      I’m sorry if this doesn’t fully answer your questions, and please feel free to ask more!

      Thanks
      Harvey

      Like

      • No, that answer satisfies me very much because it is a very uncertain conclusion, which I think is probably the best that we can ever do. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my path away from fundamentalism and Christianity it is that, whatever truth is out there will probably never really be fully known. It is refreshing to me to see Christians who will actually accept this uncertainty. =) All the best to you.

        Like

        • Thank you for saying this. I’m no fan of fundamentalist certainty. I think we need to hold all of our beliefs and views cautiously and provisionally. My own beliefs have changed greatly over the last 20 years, from agnosticism to full-on evangelical Christianity, and then through various phases to a position now where I still believe in Christ but find much of evangelical theology unhelpful.

          I completely understand why after your experiences you would want to walk away from Christianity. All I would say is that you don’t necessarily have to throw the ‘baby’ of Christ out with the ‘bathwater’ of fundamentalism.

          There is so much in the church that I find frustrating and which I don’t believe is genuinely Christlike. I’ve written a post expressing this. Yet I find I can’t give up on Christ, who I still believe to be real and good and so much better than all that has been done and set up in his name. And I don’t believe that someone necessarily has to be ‘Christian’ in any usual sense to follow Christ.

          So I wish you all the very best on the path you choose to follow. 🙂

          Harvey

          Like

          • Eh, I’m not sure there was ever a baby in my bathwater. And anyway, I did not immediately reject Christianity entirely even after I rejected fundamentalism, so I am aware that the two don’t have to go together. However, I simply have no reason in the world to believe that Jesus is god. I can convince myself just as well of any other religion in the world. As such, I simply can’t call myself a Christian. I appreciate plenty of Jesus’ teachings, but it seems much more likely to me that he was just a leader and teacher who was later re-written as a deity than to actually believe he is god. If I could come up with a single good reason in the whole world to believe that, maybe I would. But I don’t have one.

            Like

            • Fair enough – I’ve no problem with any of that. And of course you have to follow your own path.

              You may well be right and there was no baby in your bathwater. I suppose all I’m saying is that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no baby at all. There may be no baby, no God, no divine Christ; but of course I think there are a lot of good reasons for thinking that there is.

              I certainly can’t prove it to you unequivocally. My own best attempt to justify theism and basic Christian belief (if you’re interested) is here, but it’s far from being a knock-down argument.

              When it comes to whether Christ is in some way divine, again I think there are plenty of good reasons to think so, and if you’re genuinely interested I can share them with you. But again I can’t prove it beyond doubt.

              We’ve talked about certainty. There are many things on which I’m deeply uncertain; I’m not sure about many of the finer points of Christian doctrine and biblical interpretation. But I’m as certain as I can be that Christ was real and that he is the true image of the divine being, or the Ultimate Reality, or God, whatever you choose to call ‘him’.

              All the very best,
              Harvey

              Like

  5. I read your posts describing your beliefs in Christian theism and found them quite interesting. You are correct that I do not find them completely convincing because, to me, it seems that all of the points that you make could be just as well explained from an atheistic viewpoint as a theistic one. I guess that’s why I am primarily agnostic by now. I admit that I LIKE the idea of some spirituality, but that doesn’t really mean that I assume it to be true. I just like to entertain the idea.

    Now, I do think that spirituality has a valuable purpose in many lives. From what I can see from your story, your faith came along to help you out of a bad situation and means a lot to you for that reason among others. I can fully respect that. I can also respect that you have found much inspiration in other Christians who seem to have followed Jesus’ example. However, for every great story of how Christianity saved one person, I can find other examples of Islam saving someone, or Judaeism , or Paganism, or even lack of belief freeing a person from their dark demons. In my experience, both religious and non-religious people have been among the greatest examples of “goodness” in my life, and I can’t say that the scale is particularly weighted towards one or the other. For myself, there was a time that I would have claimed that god all-but stayed my hand from taking my own life. But then again, leaving my faith also saved me. And do I know that god was the one that stopped me, or was that just my over-stressed and altered state of mind talking? Who knows. I, again, am just left with no concrete reason to believe.

    So, in the end, I can only think that IF God really wants us to be with him in the afterlife and IF being with him in the afterlife required that we believe in him in this life, then he would make himself very clear to us in this life. Since he obviously doesn’t make himself clear to us, I can only assume that the nature of my faith in this life doesn’t matter to him or he doesn’t exist… or he’s a very petty and sorry excuse for a god, which I would prefer not to worship. I am dismissing the third possibility because I would not call such a being “god”. For the second two, it doesn’t matter whether I believe in Jesus as God or not… salvation or the after life must be dependent on something other than belief in the divinity of Jesus or else Jesus would make himself clear to all people. Now, maybe Jesus is divine. I’m not saying that is impossible. But if he is, I guess he must think that my faith in his divinity is not important. I’m cool with that. =)

    Like

    • Thanks for reading my posts! I realise that they don’t prove anything – but I’m not sure that total proof could ever be possible, for any worldview.

      I also agree that there are difficulties with the Christian position (Why is there suffering? What about other faiths? Why does God remain hidden? etc). However, the same also applies to atheism. Why is there a universe rather than nothing? Why is the universe shot through with rationality, beauty, and goodness? Why do we have a sense of good and evil, of right and wrong? Why do we have a nagging sense that life must have a meaning and a purpose?

      So agnosticism certainly seems like a sensible position. I’m agnostic about many things – including many issues that most Christians are very definite about.

      However, I think that we *can* provisionally commit ourselves to a position or worldview that seems most reasonable or helpful to us without being 100% sure on all the details – and also without completely rejecting or denigrating alternative worldviews.

      But I don’t think that our specific beliefs are what matters most – I think it’s whether we show love that counts.

      I certainly don’t have a problem with people being ‘saved’ through Islam or paganism or indeed atheism. My own belief is that Christ offers the most complete revelation of reality, but that people of other faiths (and none) still have access to much light and truth. I also believe that all redemption ultimately comes through Christ, but that people can access it in different ways and without having to be Christian.

      On the question of God’s apparent silence and hiddenness, I agree that it’s frustrating, but I don’t think it’s necessarily problematic. Perhaps God has already said and revealed all that he needs to through the person of Christ. More than that though, I think God wants us to think for ourselves rather than constantly telling us what to do or what to believe. I also think that acting quietly behind the scenes shows divine restraint, rather than merely using power to impress or terrify, or force people into belief.

      All the best,
      Harvey

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s