Finding God or him finding us

Continuing the discussion from Post resurrection accounts of Jesus in the gospels, consistent or not?:

He doesn’t do well with dares or demands or any other dogmatism from us.

My first thought was to to say I’m not a calvinist or reformed theologian nor do I think free will and predestination can line up like some people. I feel like this issue can be muddy from a theological perspective.

I do understand the issue of God seeming to not overtly make himself known to all people but claiming he cannot or will not make himself known is a non sequitur. Countless millions, if not billions of people have claimed to have had a life changing experience with God and/or an intimate, personal and private relationship with Him throughout human history. Maybe we are all just crazy but to modify something by C.S. Lewis, “I believe in God as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see Him but because by Him I see everything else.”

The second half of that really reverberates for me. But needless to say, I am not intending to put the existence of God on par with the existence of the sun from an evidentiary standpoint. It more about a person’s world views to me. God doesn’t perform tricks for us and seems to be subtle. We need to seek him out, sometimes for a whole lifetime. It is of course, a two way street.

“I ended my first book with the words ‘no answer.’ I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words.” – Till We have Faces, CS Lewis

3 Likes

I think God makes himself known to all people through the Holy Spirit. Then he searches their hearts and see if they are willing to search him out. Those that don’t gradually harden their hearts against him.

Who are they who do that?

Same could be said about Santa Claus or Zeus or Baal. If you keep looking for Santa, you too will find him. However, the strange thing is those who found God are not experiencing anything different from the naturalism of Atheists.

How is that the same correlation actually? I guess this is the old mocking thing that "Ohh you believe in God hense you believe in unicorns) right?

All I can say is this. I’m not an atheist. I think atheists at some points in their life feels a spiritual tugging on their hearts. Those that reject it begin to harden their hearts against God. Those that are not his, will not and can’t understand it. I believe that’s why scripture says mention Christ a few times and if they reject the good message dust your feet of them. It’s not about being mean or anything towards them but it’s Gods way of saying don’t waste your breath on trying to force belief into someone.

So someone can argue that atheists and religious people of other faiths experiences the same things but I disagree. I think there comes a point when God searches the hearts of those that choses unbelief and withdraws from them. Since I don’t believe in intelligent design, I don’t believe these things are something that can be proven beyond looking at scripture.

Believers and unbelievers. Those who hear their names and those who don’t.

i agree.As i said before i grew up atheist.But even though didnt read anything apologetically or something just the bible i had that spiritual hunger.I cant explain it but i had a worry inside of me.It has also helped with my depression

It’s a bit different than that, or at least it was for me. We begin to question it, not reject it. Some of us come to the conclusion that we are tricking ourselves. Perhaps we are right, or perhaps we are wrong. For most of us atheists, we still have a lot of respect for those who come to a different conclusion than we do.

Perhaps it comes down to the simple question of having faith in what you are experiencing does come from God. I’m not a big fan of the Dan Brown stuff, but there was a line in the movie “Angels and Demons” that resonated with me. Tom Hanks’ character said when trying to explain why he wasn’t a believer (paraphrasing), “God didn’t give me the gift of faith”.

I don’t think there is any way we could ever answer that question. I do think it is best not to tell other people “what they really think” and we should assume they are being honest about their experiences and beliefs. A bit of empathy and charity goes a long way.

1 Like

It’s a correlation because we are always expected to believe and to actively use our imagination to hunt for clues that we found what we are looking for. It works the same with any imaginary supernatural beings. Let’s say I ask God to reveal himself to me and then, I see the heart shaped cloud. Is this God’s answer? But it’s these things that Christians typically point to as proof of Gods existence.

I disagree with your portrayal. More often, in my experience, people become atheists because they have exhausted all options of “ tugging on God’s heart”


At night, when my wife would go to sleep, I would crawl out of bed and pray, weeping desperately, hoping that there was something more than the ceiling above me. At times, I had to take the pillow with me, because I was weeping so uncontrollably, I had to hold it to my face to muffle the sounds not to wake up my wife. I begged, screamed and pleaded. I whispered until my lips refused to move anymore. All I asked for was one sign from Jesus, that he was real and I was not making him up in my head. Just one small sign by which I could reliably know it was all real. I promised to give away all my wealth, my life, my finances, my hobbies. I bargained, I begged and cried, and yet, all I heard was silence. I really wanted to believe, in fact, I still do today, but after hearing only silence I secretly admitted to myself that I was an agnostic atheist.”

And this experience I don’t disagree with. People find solace in some Christian ideas, like the afterlife. What could console a crying young widow better than the hope of meeting her husband in heaven some day?

Of course, the idea of a Christian God that I grew up with was the idea of a strict ruler. He offered a way out of Hell by killing his own son, and he expected nothing less that perfection from me. How do you not lust after a woman at 13 years old, and yet, if you do, you are an adulterer ! And how can you expect to be forgiven for this sin if you keep committing it? Thankfully for those of us who are older, God eventually provides help, allowing the 90 year olds to stop lusting completely.

Then it seems as far as we are concerned it’s a stand still. Science can’t answer it, and we believe two different things about the experience. Where science can’t answer something I look to philosophy and part of Philosophy is religion which includes doctrine and so on this question I have one source and that’s scripture. There is not personal experience or argument that can undermine my faith in using scripture as the source to answer this question. So I’ll bounce out. I understand others have a different view, and to me those views are wrong, and to them my view is either wrong or most likely wrong, and so that’s that. I don’t mean that in a snarky or mean spirited way just that as a Christian when answering questions about Gods role in the life of humanity there is only one source.

Hopefully you are not gone for good from this thread, but I disagree that science can’t answer whether God shows up today. If God was doing what Jesus did, then his actions would be measurable. But if God is simply a hidden observer, then I agree, science cannot prove or disprove such a being.

The question of Gods existence has interested me, to the point of obsession at times, because I’ve feared Hell since an early age and that fear never really left me. As I get older and risks to my health increase, the fears do too.

God’s providential M.O. is empirically recognizable. Maggie’s sequence is my favorite example.

I did not leave the thread. I just was saying that I don’t believe it’s fruitful for someone to say my experiences was this, and I say I dont accept everyone’s experiences as higher than theological truths, and then they say they experienced this and I just reply the same. I felt that was what the convo was becoming and I felt like it’s better to bounce that type of conversation.

I don’t believe that there is any evidence for God beyond using him to fill in gaps of science that’s not answered yet and for personal experiences. My faith is just that. It’s pure faith. That faith is predominantly used to fill in gaps of my experience. Atheism could perhaps just as easily have filled them in but it never grew, only faith did. I also don’t believe in any of the spiritual gifts existing anymore. I don’t believe in people seeing angels, demons, being healed miraculously on the spot from prayer and laying on of hands, I don’t believe in speaking in tongues or prophecy existing anymore. I think it all ceased because of scripture. But that’s a completely different thread. I’m bringing it up only to showcase that I sincerely don’t believe in scientific evidence for God and only see him in gaps that I also believe may eventually be filled with science , but in return will open up more doors and that there will always be another door.

The experiences that I’ve had from prayers being answered is also a byproduct of faith that though however unlikely, still has a statistical secular answer and it comes down to what I place my faith in to interpret that data.

I also don’t believe that scripture teaches eternal damnation of a conscious torment. I hope to make a post on it one day. I don’t think atheists need to fear dying without God. I think it’s just that.

I believe we all live this one time. We die and we are all resurrected and at that resurrection those in a Christ receive eternal life and those without Christ don’t receive that eternal life and die again. Their eternal punishment is death and that death is only a punishment because they could have remained alive eternally in a restored heaven and earth. I don’t believe that fear results in true faith but love.

You may really enjoy the studies put out by rethinking hell. It’s a incredible podcast with over 400 hours , and 90% of that is debates, solely on the topic of hell.

I sincerely believe that upon exhausting all scripture on hell and tracing back the words the Bible does not teach hell as many believe it to be.

1 Like

This does not refute annihilationism, but it does universalism:

Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up

 

(Check out the ‘Look inside’ feature or download the sample if you do Kindle or the Kindle app. You can read the endorsements, the ToC, preface, intro and the first chapter.)

I wanted to do this as a separate response.

To me hearing your thoughts seems to fit with what I said. You have this at times obsessive desire based out of fear of hell. But to be afraid of hell means to believe in a God who can place you there. There are two verses that comes to mind.

Proverbs 9:10
New American Standard Bible
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The second one is:

1 John 4:18
New American Standard Bible
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

Many of us , and everyone Jewish person and Christian in history has at some point felt some kind of fear. We start off not doing something sinful because we don’t want to be punished by God. As time goes, snd you begin to trust God more snd more, your love gets closer snd closer to being perfected to the point that you choose not to sin because you want to please God.

An arranged marriage comes to mind. Two strangers meet and are married. They don’t really know each other, but they try to not cheat on each other because they don’t want to face the cultural stigma of being an adulterous person. They fear the shame. But as they begin to know one another, and spend more time with one another, they begin to fall in love. As they fall in love they both longer Reno’s faithful out of fear but love. That’s where I feel the second verse and the first verses harmonize. I don’t think they are a contradiction but a progressing mindset.

If they always remained just in a state of fear, there will never be any true love or common ground found.

Many also believe that because hell is not this place of everlasting torment , as the symbolic imagery in revelation portrays, it means that there is less of a reason to love God. I disagree. I think as we remove God further from this hateful monster we begin to see the loving father. The absence of the monster is not the absence of the father.

So for me through faith I see this world as very beautiful. I’m extremely thankful to God for this wonderful and mysterious creation and for the wonderful people he places in my life. I often hear people mention something like, “ if only God would do this or that I would believe” and all I can think is he’s already done everything. He’s given us life, creation, love and even his son. Even if he was a deistic creator and there was no eternal life I would still want to please him because I love him and would gladly spend my short century on this earth as his follower. Eternal life is just a huge blessing.

So, and I understand you may not believe so, to me the unshakable consuming tug is the Holy Spirit still reaching out. I believe all the components of faith is there just waiting to be put together. But I also believe that they require help. I don’t believe in someone becoming a disciple all on their own. Faith is made to be shared and taught. He’s given us other disciples all across the world to be there for us to help us. That’s really the thing I am most thankful for. It’s not eternal life, its the family I have through Christ. No one is perfect, but there are amazing disciples in all nations. Even if the majority of self professing Christians are not really his , there are still some to be found everywhere.

If you must reply to me then stop with that ironic or sarcastic language.Its really annoying at least to me.It kinda remnids myself in a way. Wanna know how a teen boy doesnt lust over a girl?He doesnt.You know how you can become the best person in the world ?You dont. And thats why you need one that has to be. If no one is perfect then who is? Sorry i cant believe we came into existance with a role of a dice and i came here by pure luck of survival evolution (i do believe in evolution ,not the atheistic one).Im sorry i cant believe that this beautifull thing called nature came into existance by pure luck.Sorry i triied it didnt worked for me,

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.