Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Questions I Would Ask God (or Jesus), Part IV; Why Do You Seem Silent?
This is a question that I can not even begin to discuss among my Evangelical friends while I could have a great time discussing it with a bunch of philosophy students. To Evangelicals, if you say, “God seems silent” it means that you are having spiritual or emotional troubles. But this posting is not part of that game. But among Evangelicals it really is (often) a sociological game because the mores of the Evangelical sub culture make it very important that you and God talk back and forth every day, if not every minute of every day. To say that He seems or is silent is to say that God suddenly stopped talking or you stopped listening, both of which is a sign of spiritual failure.
But my question here is a very sincere, transparent, metaphysical question. Like I said before this question is not a “questioning” question, with attached emotions or judgements. In other words, I’m not standing on a hill late at night shaking my fist at the moon screaming, “God why do you seem so freaken silent (or distant)? I’m hurting down here!” There is a time and place for that.
There have been times in my life when I asked this question as part of an emotional or spiritual point of despair . . . but not this time. This time it is a simple, honest question and I’m confident God has a good answer.
First I must get past the hurdle of, “Does God really seem silent?” Again, I could never ask this question in a Sunday school setting at my church. There would be an out pouring of every one in the room that absolutely NO, God is not silent . . . only that I’m a bad person, troubled, for not hearing Him.
But let us get real for a moment and divorce ourselves from the Christian sub-culture. This is a very important question for our youth, for seekers . . . hey, even for myself. It deserves honest consideration and not just religious clichés.
When I say that God appears silent it is like I’m standing in a maddening crowd, pointing and screaming, “Look the emperor is naked!” I would be pelted with rotten tomatoes.
But when Evangelicals talk about God not being silent, they are usually basing it on what I would call “soft” or “paper” miracles.
For example, when I was studying philosophy at a state university, there were a group of us Christians who were upset that the prof kept saying things like, “Jesus = Marijuana.” What he meant by that was that Marijuana made you feel good, so did Jesus, etc. We opposed him so much that he scheduled a debate outside of our classroom . . . it was a huge event. It was the Evangelicals Vs the Atheists.
When the main atheist spoke he used the Parody of the Invisible Gardener by Antony Flew, to illustrate that God was not there.
I responded that “God did indeed enter the garden in history as the person of Jesus Christ.” Even my Christian friends had no ideal what I was talking about and didn’t know who Antony Flew was or what garden the atheist and I were talking about. I remember a friend, David, looking at me as I was sitting down and shaking his head and said, “What are you talking about? You’re making no sense.”
Then this Christian girl Mary Lou stood up and said, in defense of all of us, “I know for certain that God exist because I have a God-shaped piece missing in my heart and God fits it perfectly like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle”. The Evangelicals thought her statement was quite beautiful, while the atheists scratched their heads . . . and smiled.
So I want to disregard all the “proof” that God is there that is based on inward feelings, flaky miracles (those that can not be substantiated by others and could look identical to miracles that were the products of psychological wishful thinking.) With those things out of the way then God does look silent at this point in history. I am confident in the Bible, and therefore God has not always been silent. I mean, He wasn’t silent to Moses. He wasn’t silent to Paul and certainly not silent to those who walked with Jesus.
Schaeffer wrote a book titled, He is There and He is Not Silent. I haven’t read it in a few decades, but I have read it at least three times. I can’t remember his exact approach to the topic. I know part of his answer was the same as mine that God has spoken in history at times. He may (or may not) have used soft miracles to say that God is still speaking. For example, changes in people’s lives, giving people direction through that small, inward voice, etc. Even those they may be real . . . they can not be substantiated thus they do not count in point.
With that long introduction I will ask my question now. God, why does it seem that You are silent now? It seems like it would be so helpful for Your cause if You were visible today through substantiated voices or miracles. I use to say, when I was much younger, that all I needed was a Road to Damascus experience, like Paul, and I too would try to turn the world upside down until I gave up my physical life for You.
I will give my version of multiple choices, realizing that Your answer may be something all together different.
One option is that you are very visible but to our Fallen senses we don’t see you clearly?
Another option is that you want our faith to have the opportunity to be expressed and grow, but if you were in our sight, speaking to us in real substantiated voices every day . . . then it would be too easy.
Posted by MJ at 11:11 AM