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Why Doesn't God Show Himself To Everybody?


antho91
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Dear all,

 

I was in a discussion recently. This guy came to the discussion that why don't God show Himself like He did to Saul, who was at that time a very strong persecutor of Christianity, so that the unbelievers have better chance of believing in Him, without interfering our freewill.

 

These are the premises he offered to me:

 

p. God is all-powerful

p. God loves us all (even the sinners and the ones who do not believe he exists)

p. Those who don't believe in God, will spend eternity in Hell suffering

p. God wants everyone to choose to believe in him

p. By God appearing to people (like he did the prophets), and giving them information about the future, it significantly increases their chances for believing in God

p. God's appearing to people does not take away their free will

p. God does not appear to everyone (like he did the prophets)

c. Therefore God could save countless people from an eternity of Hell but he chooses not to

 

Those premises that I bold and coloured are the important ones. I wish to hear from you all some opinions on this issue.

 

God bless!

Edited by antho91
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I realize you want to talk about the bold red ones, but I think the first 4 are extremely important, and not givens. First, we have a lot of people here who are atheists and oriented around process theology. The omnipotence assumption is contestable in this forum. Second, we also have more than a few universalists here, so the issue of Hell isn't settled either. Also, while they don't post here, there are plenty of hardcore Calvinists who believe God chooses some to be Damned.

 

 

Again, I realize you want to get to the tricky stuff, but those unproblematic assumptions are not necessarily unproblematic.

 

 

In some ways, what you're describing is a slightly modified version of the problem of evil (how can there be suffering in a world with an all-powerful, all-good God?). [EDIT: there is also a "problem of Hell", but I don't know that one as well, and wikipedia isn't useful on that one :rolleyes: ] The way you're wording things seems to set it up for the "best of all possible worlds defense," where God has decided that though there is suffering (and damnation) in this world, it is the best possible world. Think of God as an author and the universe as his novel: it's a crappy novel if everybody is happy and stays happy from day one. Whether or not such a claim allows for an omnibenevolent God is something that is debatable, however.

Edited by Nick the Nevermet
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God does appear both in acknowledged moments and those that are not. I believe today's prophets are so moved. Joan Baez, Desmond Tutu would start my list. I find much to criticize about the Roman Catholic church but I think Pope John Paul II in his persistence in his infirmity was a witness to the God in all of us. Many work from an inner light that is as bright as the one seen by Saul. While Jesus asked me to do something that changed the next 20 years of my life I have lived the rest of my life without a vision since then.

 

God does appear in our lives. God is available to any believer when we are open and willing to be changed. It may be a Moses mountain top experience or it may find an opening in the lives of quiet faithfulness - like Anna and Simeon in Luke 2:22–24.

 

We don't grasp God; God grasps us but we must be paying attention. These experiences cannot be grasped or they will become dust.

 

My pastor talks about visiting Alzheimer patients faithfully even though there seems to be no recognition. He says that if one is open to the experience God is there to be experienced but one must be faithful and open in the visiting first. For most of us it is this walking in faith that brings us to such an experience as you seek.

 

Dutch

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Glint: "While Jesus asked me to do something that changed the next 20 years of my life I have lived the rest of my life without a vision since then."

 

You know, God inspired Moses to rise up and strike down an Egyptian, and get himself kicked out of the princely life to go hang out in the wilderness with a shepherdess and her family and a bunch of sheep for how many years before he noticed a burning bush on the mountain? I've wondered sometimes about that....was it really not until after all those years that God presented that burning bush to draw Moses up that mountian, or had that burning bush been there all those years and Moses was just finally ready to notice it that day?

 

Jenell

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Given the way the conversation in the public square goes these days God's appearance would be dissected and inspected and ejected before 10 pm by talk radio. Most people would be saying that that is not the God they know. OMG! LOL! AYKM!

 

If you look to where love and care is being expressed across boundaries of family, race, class, culture, nation and religion God's work is happening and God is in it pulling us forward in love.

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I was in a discussion recently. This guy came to the discussion that why don't God show Himself like He did to Saul, who was at that time a very strong persecutor of Christianity, so that the unbelievers have better chance of believing in Him, without interfering our freewill.

 

 

 

I guess your buddy is S.O.L.. According to your scriptures, G-d is spirit. I.e.; no flesh and blood. It would be impossible for such a being to show itself to him, no?

 

NORM

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It seems God shows Himself, Herself to us every moment, but we don't want to see the greatness before us so we hide it behind religious rules and dogma. I feel the more we are aware of God working in and through everything, especially within ourselves, the more God’s presence can replace prior limitations and dis-harmonies with good. Our minds will act on the new ideas that are formed and form a new, more positive, inclusive belief and attitude. The deep understanding present in Christ Consciousness sees the good of God everywhere and always present. This shift in attitude brings greater freedom; peace and joy so old worries are given up, freeing the mind and replacing old ideas with the knowledge that everything we need is available and good.

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Quote you reply from one of the friend on forum:

 

God knows human nature.

 

1. If He appeared like a jinn every time we asked Him - we would immediately attempt to control Him.

2. Gamblers and dog trainers know that a reward system that pays people off randomly is the most powerfully addictive system on Earth.

3. Today's science is yesterday's magic - As soon as God's presence became familiar we would take it for granted until He amazed us with a bigger miracle.

With these truths in mind, it becomes clear that a saving relationship would not be possible in a Fallen world if it was predictable.

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With these truths in mind, it becomes clear that a saving relationship would not be possible in aFallen world if it was predictable.

Anthro,

I would be interested to know what you mean by "a Fallen world?" Are you suggesting that the world regressed from some ideal, or more perfect, time?

 

It seems to me that, although we have a lot of work yet to do, the world (at least humankind) has, in fact, progressed over time in many ways.

 

George

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Quote you reply from one of the friend on forum:

 

God knows human nature.

 

1. If He appeared like a jinn every time we asked Him - we would immediately attempt to control Him.

2. Gamblers and dog trainers know that a reward system that pays people off randomly is the most powerfully addictive system on Earth.

3. Today's science is yesterday's magic - As soon as God's presence became familiar we would take it for granted until He amazed us with a bigger miracle.

With these truths in mind, it becomes clear that a saving relationship would not be possible in a Fallen world if it was predictable.

 

Not sure how your last 3 points tie in, Antho91. Nobody seems to have an issue with God apparently appearing so dramatically to Paul, yet Paul isn't alleged to have immediately attempted to control Him. So why the assumption that everyone else would? Who is to say that everyone wouldn't benefit like Paul who was an evil Christian persecutor?

 

As for the random system reference, isn't that exactly what you've got now - the randomness of some people being able to 'believe' due to their culture, upbringing and influences, versus the randomness of say a kid being born to and raised by loving atheist parents who convinve that child not to believe in Jesus, and subsequently that child is condemned to hell for not growing up and believing 'properly'?

 

But I think there is quite a lot of truth in your statement that today's science is yesterday's magic! What that seems to say to me is that rather than people becoming familiar with God's presence and then taking it for granted, there were those that didn't take the 'conventional' God wisdom for granted and thankfully used science to dispel myth (otherwise we might still be bleeding people to release evil spirits, using slaves, letting defenceless herds of swine dive off cliffs, etc).

 

It seems to me that such a saving relationship in a fallen world is entirely predictable - It's essentially the same for most religions - "follow our beliefs and you'll be saved".

 

Cheers

Paul

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Paul,

 

Christianity follows 'orthodoxy,' the idea that correct belief leads to salvation. However, some religions, such as Islam and Judaism, embrace 'orthopraxy,' the idea that correct practice is the path to salvation such as fasting in Ramadan, praying five times a day, eating Kosher, strict Sabbath observance and the like. (This is the 'Works' that the other Paul wrote about.)

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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Anthro,

I would be interested to know what you mean by "a Fallen world?" Are you suggesting that the world regressed from some ideal, or more perfect, time?

 

It seems to me that, although we have a lot of work yet to do, the world (at least humankind) has, in fact, progressed over time in many ways.

 

George

 

Now, it seems to me that although the world is looking to be "improving" on the surface, especially with all the high-techs mechanisms, but inwardly, the morality of human race is going into drain.

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Not sure how your last 3 points tie in, Antho91. Nobody seems to have an issue with God apparently appearing so dramatically to Paul, yet Paul isn't alleged to have immediately attempted to control Him. So why the assumption that everyone else would? Who is to say that everyone wouldn't benefit like Paul who was an evil Christian persecutor?

 

Perhaps people like us who are born in this era will. an era with so much of philosophies, so much of technologies, we will began to question God's appearance. We will attempt to explain the way God should have shown Himself, using numbers and physics, and science..

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Now, it seems to me that although the world is looking to be "improving" on the surface, especially with all the high-techs mechanisms, but inwardly, the morality of human race is going into drain.

 

There is good data to suggest otherwise, at least in terms of violence. And, I would argue that there has been improvement in other areas such as racism, sexism and homophobia as well.

 

I grew up in a segregated South. Although racism persists, it is much, much less than during my childhood; I never sat in a classroom with an African-American. I now have several neighbors which would have been outrageous not many years ago.

 

Homophobia persists as well, but in recent years, several states have approved gay marriage and attitudes are clearly changing. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a step forward in the 90s and now it has been repealed such that gay people can openly serve in the military.

 

Women have almost unprecedented opportunities today and actually outnumber males in college enrollment.

 

Maybe, you could give specific examples of where "the human race is going into the drain."

 

George

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I'm really just making conjecture here, as I don't nesseciarly believe these statements myself, but I have heard some specific reasoning for this.

 

One of the more common answers that I see of this is that God appeared to people in the OT due to the fact that the entirety of the Gospel had not yet occurred. Once the Gospel had become word, and widely known, the world did have a physical way to understand and know God--the word itself.

 

And while this is not specifically the same thing, the verse of Luke is interesting to me. “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31 NIV.)

 

That could be extended, perhaps--as most Christians believe Jesus to be God. Many people know that others believe this, but they don't believe it themselves, which is in a way fulfilling that very passage in Luke. Yes, Jesus did not appear to every modern Christian, but they still believed that he did at one point physically exist and was a manifestation of God on earth. If God did a similar thing today, I would wager that even after 1000 years, humankind would just cycle back to the believing and unbelieving of the incident.

Edited by misterkatamari
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p. By God appearing to people (like he did the prophets), and giving them information about the future, it significantly increases their chances for believing in God

 

Suppose God appeared to people like He did to the prophets and gave them information about the future. Would this significantly increase the chance that they would believe in God? Not necessarily. If God appeared to someone like He did to the prophets, he could explain this phenomenon by saying that this was just a hallucination. He could say, "There must be some naturalistic explanation for this occurence."

Edited by Hornet
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Two points from my own personal journey...

 

First, I've always felt kind of guilty, like I "cheated", had an unfair advantage, in the matter of my faith. Or more accurately, the source and foundation of my faith. I've always had real serious problems with questions about "how and when" I "came to accept the Lord," or about my "moment of conversion".................Even more problematic when it even hints at what I might say of those things that might "help lead others to faith."

 

The "problem" is that I've had, from a very very young age, what I still cannot in any rational way dismiss as something other than they have seemed to me..."experiences" or "encounters" with the Divine...yes, specifically manifested in the form of a personal Jesus. So I feel like I "cheated"...I never had to accept on blind trust what anyone else told me I was supposed to "believe." so i cannot even begin to identify with others that haven't that, or where or how they might begin. Consequently, I also never had the expected common experience of "recognizing my lost condition as a wicked and depraved sinner and asking Jesus to save me." No room for that in traditional christian doctrine!

 

A secondary problem to speaking of that is that I realize both this is something no one but me can actually "know", I can't expect anyone to take my word for it, believe me. Let alone base their own faith on my say so about it. I am well aware how casually many fabricate such stories, for whatever myriad of reasons there may be. I've learned many will react just that way if i do speak of it, assume i am fabricating it, for selfish reasons, to try to put myself forward as superior, seeking admiration and approval, or command false 'authority' to my own ideas and words...as in, God himself told me this, so you'd better believe ME as God....yeah! Haven't we all encountered THAT? (or, seen as evidence that I'm mentally ill!)

 

The second point is, the bible had absolutely NOTHING to do with my coming to faith, "belief" in God, or Jesus, the reality of the numinous, the spiritual (even if I've now learned other language contexts in which to try to understand them). I can't even remember exactly when it first began...the earliest I remember is around age 4, through some vivid prophetic dreams that I quickly learned t keep quiet about, becasue it upset my parents greatly when I spoke of them, and they scared me with warnings of things like being tricked by demon spirits. When I remember first starting to go to church, around that age, and they told me about Jesus, it wasn't as if they were introducing me to someone "new", just telling me about who the one was that i already knew, but didn't know what his "name" was or when and where he lived or what he did.

 

I have learned not to share this kind of thing too readily....it is not 'safe' to do so in most situations. My trying to do so isn't going to convince anyone else and just created problems for me.

 

Jenell

 

PS...this has also had a definite effect on my perspective of accounts in the bible, the gospels orothherwise, regarding realit of and encounters with the divine...instead of being as commonly seen, accounts serving as 'evidence', or reasons to believe, I percieve them instead as simply 'validations' of my own experiences, as in hey, see, here's someone else that told of experiences such as my own! I'm really not the only one these kind of things have happened to! If you beleive they happened to those people in the bible, why can't you beleive they might happen to me or anyone else?

Edited by JenellYB
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Jenell,

 

You are not alone. You will find something of an answer in Jung if you examine his Psychological Types. I would say more, but you are doing an excellent job finding you own way and individuating. I will provide a hint in that an individuated person can feel very lonely as they come to the awareness of the true diversity of human nature. All I can share now is this little song from my days in Sunday School:

 

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

 

Each and every day, I'm gonna let it shine...

 

All over my neighborhood, I'm gonna let it shine...

 

All around the world...

 

Put it under a bushel - No! ...

 

Ain't nobody gonna "whoof"* it out...

 

Myron

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I think one will in time discover that God is revealed to everybody at all times with the conundrum being that most are not aware because they do not yet realize what they are looking for that is present with them in this very moment and sustaining the very one that is asking the question.

 

Joseph

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I think one will in time discover that God is revealed to everybody at all times with the conundrum being that most are not aware because they do not yet realize what they are looking for that is present with them in this very moment and sustaining the very one that is asking the question.

 

Joseph

 

That's a good point. Perhaps it is similar to what Jenell said about the burning bush always being there, and Moses only deciding to find it after many years. It's an interesting thing to think about. When you look for something, you tend not to find what you were expecting...and when you don't expect anything, sometimes you find the extraordinary.

 

Also, Jenell, I can understand how your situation would create such a unique view and make it somewhat difficult for you to truly know the situation of having to believe on faith alone. It reminds me of doubting Thomas when Jesus appeared to him. So perhaps in that sense, you didn't cheat at all, God just chose to appear to you for a specific reason. So I wouldn't feel bad about that, though I can totally understand the difficulty in trying to relate to that concept since you've actually experienced it.

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Excellent observation, Joseph! More true, I think, and any of us realize.

 

Myron, yes, Jung is one of those "other languages" in which I've discovered insights into myself, notable events in my life, and how my life has evolved.And that song has been one of my very favorites since very young...it and "jesus loves the little children" are two of the earliest ones I remember falling in love with, for their message.

 

Jenell

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