Thursday, September 30, 2010

What is a relationship?

I was recently reading a blog, and the issue was dealing with why God is hidden. This was in relation to many agnostics/atheists saying that they had looked quite hard for evidence, and had found none. God has to remain hidden so that the ability people have to make moral decisions isn't coerced in any way. Furthermore, if God did make Himself so easily visible, it would interfere with the free will and autonomy of humanity. They would respond to God due to self-preservation and fear of punishment, as opposed to wanting to get to know God just for the sake of knowing Him.

I've seen this argument a few times, but it was only this past month that I realized I was confused over portions of it.

Any time we have a person point out the less than ethical Christians throughout history as to why some people don't view Christianity in a positive light, or why they might feel religion is harmful, one of the responses is inevitably the idea that many will claim to follow Jesus, but that at the day of judgment, Jesus will say something along the lines of how they are to depart, for they never knew him. Even though these people claimed to preach about him, do good works in his name, expel demons -- didn't matter. Jesus didn't know them.

So, obviously, the departed people didn't truly know God or have a relationship with Him. They had knowledge of God (presumably, given what they claimed to have done). But that knowledge of God, and that claim or belief to follow God, wasn't enough to ensure salvation.

So, if it wasn't enough in this case, wouldn't the same principle apply if God made Himself so completely obvious to everyone? If it's not enough to simply believe in God and try to follow Him, then how is any sort of revelation an issue? Why remain hidden? Surely, since God would know the inner workings of people, that if someone was only not robbing others out of punishment, but very much wanted to rob others and wasn't "convicted" of that sin or anything, such a desire would be factored into the equation.

Another issue I have with this argument is the assumption built into the answer. There are plenty of people who genuinely wish God was real, only don't see any evidence for the case. They do want a relationship with God because they want the unconditional love, or they want a purpose in life, or they want to be a better person. They've prayed, they've read the books, they've searched ... and they feel that the only honest solution is to be an agnostic or atheist, due to what they see as the lack of evidence.

So if God ceased to remain hidden in their cases, they would respond to Him, but not out of a fear of punishment. Except the argument contains the implication that those who claim God is too hidden would only respond to a revelation out of a fear of punishment.


Sarge said...

I remember back when I was a youngster, being coerced in to going to SS & church (and other constructs of Southern Baptist life) there was a musically very lovely song called "Seek Ye The Lord (While He May Be Found)"

Wonderful music, the lyrics suggested that one should eat a mile of this entity's excremet just to see what was at the other end, because... because... well, you should, and you should praise this entity, because... you should.

So, yet again, something that they nod thier heads in a wise and knowing manner, and what they say makes no sense.

It sounds like some sort of high school kid games as they discribe it.

Zoe said...

It's quite a merry-go-round of explanations. In my not-so-humble opinion: Even those who believe are still believing in a hidden God.

Lorena said...

It is a make-do god who sometimes helps just because believing in something is useful at times.

That their is in hiding is quite simply preposterous.

Anonymous said...

But why is God hidden is likely the real question?

According to the majority of scriptures, God is just too big to be Moses' case even seeing him would of killed him. There is a mystery to this that might make more sense than not, if God is as powerful as being the creator of all, why do we think we would be able to handle the sight of such eminence? Also, how big is God and what shape is he? Logistically it might be impossible to truly 'see God'.

The proofs used prior to the modern era about God was nature. Noww science has pretty much said that nature does not need a God...but I sometimes wonder why everything is built with such traceable processes? In fact, we can dismantle and shape many of these processes via science. Even global warming we are pretty sure we know why it's really tragic, human intervention in the atmosphere (which apparently was built pretty good for us to live by).

I still see in nature the beauty of the world given to us, our lives reflect this same beauty. There is something about being able to think like this, to make science make sense, that speaks to me of being like 'Adam'...of being made to do so with much concern that it was possible and meaningful. In the human condition I always find some link to God.

OneSmallStep said...


Except there are also a lot of New Testament verses explaining how people will one day see Jesus -- who, in orthodox Christianity -- is considered God. The whole concept of Heaven is that you'd see God and worship at His feet. So, evidentially people will be able to handle such a sight.

Lorena said...

Yes, it is a weird concept. Many business owners make excellent gods, and the people see them day in and day out.

My brother is a business man with 200+ employees. He was telling me that he counsels them, prescribes them herbal remedies, gets them out of jail, attends their divorce hearing, gives them motivational speeches, goes to their weddings and funerals and more... much more.

I don't think that if my brother were invisible he would be a better boss.

Anonymous said...

"Except there are also a lot of New Testament verses explaining how people will one day see Jesus -- who, in orthodox Christianity -- is considered God" (OSS)

One small problem for me, I don't think Jesus is God...I don't buy into the Trinity idea (which most Orthosox thinkers will say is 'alluded' to in the scripures...or in other words...'we think this concept is there').

"The whole concept of Heaven is that you'd see God and worship at His feet" (OSS)

Feet - realistically or allegorically? See that's the real problem with scripture - anthropomorphism's (God seen in a tangible way by human ideas).

Temaskian said...


Yes! Your brother sounds like a much better god than the one I had.

OSS, good point that if we really see God we might fear him and submit purely out of fear. But surely he could manifest himself in a more benevolent manner. He's God after all. And if all He is is Fear, then heaven might not be such a nice place after all.

Andrew said...

OSS.... Haven't heard from ya in a bit.... Hope all is well