How Do We Know God?
My last article posted dealt with how we know God. There is so much to say on this topic that it has filled many, many volumes. I’ve been addressing the topic carefully in a brief book I’m writing on stages and transitions of spiritual growth, and which you will hear more about in coming days… to be released in just over a month!
Today I want to add just a little to the last post and deal further with a fundamental issue, perhaps the fundamental issue about knowing God: Do we know God through things God chooses to say and demonstrate to us through selected messengers? Or do we know God through a vast array of messengers, not selected out individually by God and promoted by a religious community? Is this aided by our observation of the world – nature, people, spiritual phenomena and such?
These significantly different methods relate directly to the kind of God people believe they (or others before them) have discovered. Now some holding to the first, “special revelation” approach do leave place for some input from the second, “natural revelation” approach. But inevitably, they see the definitive and vital specifics coming from revelation to God’s chosen messengers.
The important thing to notice is this: By deciding that special revelation is the way we know the most important things about God and how to have relationship with God, one has decided a very basic thing about God, perhaps inadvertantly, without realizing it. That person now believes that God does some important intervening in the normal course of human affairs. And not only human affairs, but all natural processes of life and the universe.
What they now have basically ruled out is that God may be known equally in depth or accurately by anyone who doesn’t agree on their idea of who the special messengers of God are and what messages through them are revelations about God. (Of course, there are also matters of interpreting those messages since they are far from clear, regardless which set of scriptures we are speaking of, but that aside.)
So the issue of how we know God is thus immediately and closely tied to what kind of God exists to be known.
Is it a God who “supernaturally” (an important term) breaks into normal affairs, at least on occasion? Or is it a God who only operates within natural processes (although God may have loving, persuasive influence within them in subtle ways that operate continually and thus “naturally”)?
Now let me be quick to add that the latter kind of God, as seen by process theology, is not restricted from having created genuinely choosing (free will) beings, not only as humans but also perhaps as angels, “demons” or in other forms. In other words, the supposed choice set up by the rivalry of supernaturalistic religion (its still-dominant form) and naturalistic science (of pure materialism, its still-dominant form) is BOGUS.
But that false either-or choice is what most people believe is their only choice…. Sad, unfortunate! It is something my writing, including part of my upcoming ebook joins a relatively small number of other Progressive Christians in seeking to change.
How about you? Have you felt restricted by this faulty either-or choice? What have you done or plan to do about it?