Is God still involved in the world? How to explain God's silence?

(SeanO) #1

@Brittany_Bowman1 brought up this question in another thread. Here are some initial thoughts.

Jesus Did Not Leave Us as Orphans - The Holy Spirit

In Christianity, God is very involved int he world! Jesus came to earth to show us how to know God and be known by Him - Jesus is ‘God with us’. And when Jesus left the disciples, He promised to send another Helper - the Holy Spirit - who would guide us into all truth. Jesus did not leave us orphans, but His Spirit guides and strengthens us as we do God’s work on the earth.

Matthew 28:20 - And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

John 14:15-21 If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

God is Always At Work

The Bible is clear that God is at work in history, drawing men unto Himself and reaching out to them that they might know Him. At just the right time in history, God sent Jesus so that all men and women may become sons and daughters of the living God. God may not work on our time scale or in the way we want Him to, but He is always working. He is not distant or aloof from the affairs of the world.

Acts 17:26 - From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Galatians 4:4-7 - But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

(Joshua Spare) #2

Hey @SeanO, can you help me understand this question? Perhaps I am missing the context of Brittany’s original question, but I’m not understanding the second part of the question. For clarity, in the first part, are you asking whether we see “evidence” or good arguments for a theistic vs deistic realty, whether intra-biblically or extra-biblically? And in the second, is this a question a rhetorical formulation of an argument to the effect of religion obviously seems very important in the world, and therefore, that is an evidence for the existence of an involved Deity?

I apologize, I think I’m missing the point quite severely, so please do point out what I am missing. Note also, that I am not positing an argument or assertion with my understanding of the second question, simply clarifying - don’t waste any time trying to “refute” my silly thoughts!

(SeanO) #3

@jspare I modified the question a bit. I think it’s along the lines of ‘the silence of God’ type questions. Also, the agnostic view of God that He got things going and then stepped back - that He is not personally involved in our lives. I am not sure whether the question is about deism or about whether or not the God of the Bible is still active in the world - @Brittany_Bowman1 could clarify that nuance. I interpreted it more as the latter.

(Brittany Bowman) #4

@SeanO and @jspare, thanks for your help. I think Sean summarized it well, especially along the lines of God being silent.

(Anthony Costello ) #5

This is a very interesting question, and obviously very complex. Michael Rea did a Gifford Lecture on the Hiddenness of God last year. Here is the link:

It is the series that begins with Lecture 1: Hidden God

I think Rea makes some very important distinctions in this series about why God might appear hidden to us. At the same time I think there are two main things going on with regard to hiddenness. First, I think there is the question of miracles. We don’t seem to see a lot of dramatic, unexplainable miracles happening. I say we don’t seem to see them, because I think if one scratches the surface one can find enough instances of possible miracles that would suggest that God still acts powerfully and empirically in the world. Craig Keener’s book Miracles documents many of these.

With regard to personal experience of God, I think that is a much more subtle problem. When I first came to Christ (actually He to me) I had several powerful experiences of God, especially for the first 3-4 years. This almost palpable sense of God’s presence, however, has tended to wane over the last few years, and experientially I almost feel about the same as I did prior to my conversion. Of course, I know that I am not “the same” but I feel that way. But that is only because I am not having these kind of psychological experiences of the Holy Spirit, or of God’s love, or of His guidance. But this is not an uncommon phenomena at all in the life of the believer. Spiritual Theologians, especially in the Catholic tradition, have written about spiritual consolation like this for centuries. One can just look at works from John of the Cross, or Therese of Avila, for example. There are Protestant examples as well. Bruce Demarest has written a good contemporary work on the same phenomena the medievals were expressing:

I think one other thing though with regard to God’s hiddenness, is that we are constantly told that there is a scientific explanation to miracles and religious experiences, even if a particular incident is never actually explained scientifically. So, I think the Scientism of the day causes us to assume that God doesn’t work in the world, where, in fact, He is doing so constantly. In other words we have now acquired a sort of “causality bias” where whenever unexplained phenomena or powerful religious experiences take place, we first assume there is a purely naturalistic explanation for it. But why assume that? It’s just because that is the culture we are embedded in, that’s why.

Hope this adds to the conversation.


P.S. I have wondered though if we, and possible even later generations after us, would in some sense be more blessed by God for the kind of faith we exercise in light of the now rather large temporal distance between us and the original events of the NT. Jesus does say to Thomas, after all, that those who believe without seeing will be more blessed than those who have substantial evidence for belief. ____

(Patrick Teo) #6

Hi Anthony,

I have exactly the same experience. When the Lord called me to be born again thirty years ago, the journey was like a mixture of horror & amazing movie. Spirit of God deeply touched me to receive the feeling of Grace of God which lasted three years before it ever subsided. i wept fifteen times a week at least for i just could not comprehend the depth of His Grace & Love. However, at the same time, i was wrestling with the demonic force for six months with no one in town can help me to unlock the horrendous ordeal. Through the guidance of the Spirit of the Living God & my faith in Christ Jesus, the mystery was finally unlocked towards the end by my cooperation with Holy Spirit.

i think that it is the process from drinking milk to solid food in our walk. Everyone has amazing stories to tell!

It is always good to see young believers have their zeal for God. It rekindles the flme within us. different people experience differently. Thank you for His glory & Grace.

When we are in our first love with Jesus , it is always very exciting to experience the born again

(Brittany Bowman) #7

Your thoughts on science are interesting. My rhetoric professor had a perspective I have found helpful. He suggested knowing more about science does not eliminate the possibility of God. Science only proves the pathway but does not prove what allowed the pathway to occur.

An example could be a guest speaker lecturing at a conference. There are a number of objective observations that could be made to prove the person is there (visual, audible, etc). We can even research the speaker’s method of arrival (plane, car, etc.) to support the observations that the speaker is at the conference. However, what if the speaker had taken off work to attend the conference? We couldn’t know whether his boss had approved of his taking off work and enabled him to attend without getting to know the boss personally. For example, we can prove he arrived on a specific plane, but we cannot know whether the boss called his pilot friend and asked him to work an extra shift so the plane could take off amidst busy airline schedules and get the speaker to the conference. Again, we would have to know the boss (God) personally to know whether our observations had been influenced by the boss’ good nature and plan. I wish I could explain it as well as he did, but the main premise was that science is designed to measure and prove things that can be observed. Religion is something that cannot be measured, so it is both a disservice to science and religion to stretch conclusions too far.

(SeanO) #8

Whenever someone mentions the belief that science rules out God, I cannot help but think of John Lennox’s explanation that Henry Ford and internal combustion are different types of explanations for the motor car. God and science are fundamentally different types of explanations - you need both to get a universe. God explains how it got there - origin. Science explains how it works.

I think this is similar to the pathway explanation. But I always think of Dr. Lennox telling this illustration when I hear someone mention the science vs God debate, so here it is: