Finding Spiritual Truth (A response to Craig at MOF)

I messed up my comment badly at a post over at Mind On Fire – so I had to repost here so it will be legible.  Go over there and check out what the post is about and the discussion there first to get some context…

Craig,

Beautifully worded!  Rarely have I seen such excellent thinking on this topic, maybe because the
average Christian is afraid to ask these questions.  Even if you hadn’t said it, I would have
thought that your statements come from real experiences and frustrations with faith.

Of course I can’t give you satisfying answers to these questions.  Expect not to find them
instantly.  I can only give you the things I’m learning along the way… I’ve only been a
Christian for 20 years and only know very little. What I am about to say presupposes a Christian
worldview, so please take it as such, as I do not have the ability to prove God exists here or
anywhere outside the constructs of my wordview.

Most of the examples you gave are good criticisms, but have great answers that are very
satisfactory.  However, to be honest, there are some you didn’t mention that do not have good
answers at all – so your general point stands.

I have been reading the Bible and studying it – sometimes in the original language, for a long

time now.  I have to tell you that the small picture of God that I have portrayed in my first
comment is representative of so much of it, you wouldn’t believe it.  For every negative and
confusing passage about God, I can give you about a thousand (not exaggerating) that are the
opposite and are as amazing or more than what I mentioned in my first comment.  I have to
conclude that the few problem passages are there because I don’t understand something correctly –
possibly the original language is unclear or something else – but by and large, the picture of
God that is presented is utterly amazing and beautiful and quite internally consistant.

However, you’re response to that statement is predictable and very appropriate:  That is great,
but it is all still only my complex interpretation.  This is a very important and good point. So
important, that it is in fact the very crux of the problematic issue of finding spiritual truth.

How can we, who are imperfect and a little selfish, whose concepts of reality are colored by our
likewise imperfect culture (religious or otherwise) find spiritual truth?

You can’t do it like cultural, people-run religious institutions do – by simply having a book to
follow and a pastor/priest to answer all your questions about it.  Sometimes you don’t even have
a book to follow, and most of the time your pastor is corrupt or confused himself/herself.

Do you understand a loved one by reading books about them?  Well, maybe at first if some existed,
but what kind of relationship would that be if that were the only way to know about them?  God is
not a concept – he/she is a person, an intelligent being (according to the Bible).  If that is
the case, the Bible was meant to be stories about his/her history, not your only source for truth
about him/her.  If that is all we had, of course people would misunderstand things all the time –
interpret them according to what they want to hear, or with the colored glasses of our cultural
wordview.

But what if you could talk to God, spend time with Him/Her just like you do a significant other?
If you are confused, why not just ask? When dealing with a human person, who would you say would
know the most about them?  People who have read their histories in books, or people that actually
were their closest friends/lovers?  The latter of course – you get the info from the source – not
only do you get to hear what they think, but you watch them act – and actions are more proof of a
truth about them than their own words are.

The spiritual life is about a love relationship between two real people.  Getting to know God is
like falling in love with someone – you don’t really know them that well initially, but as time
goes on, you get to know them better and better.  You are only human, and will never fully
understand any other person, be it God or otherwise, but you will diligently spend your whole
life learning because you love people and love God. God, as well as human beings, are too complex
and beautiful to ever fully comprehend.

Finding truth about any person, especially about God, is a process with a lot against you.  But
good Lord – what in life is more important than relationships?  And what relationship is more
important then the one with your Creator? We are built for relationships, whether the desire is
from evolution or by God’s design, it is hard to disagree that it is not an integral part of who
we are.

A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about my wife. So what! Why should that stop me
from my quest to love and know her personally and make my own conclusions?  I KNOW her better
then them all, and even if I didn’t – I would find out for myself and spend the rest of my life
trying– because I love her.  If I were to read about her in books, I would have a better
understanding of what they are saying becuase I KNOW her personally.  After I’ve known her
personally and watched her and talked to her for years, decades even, when I read about her,
wouldn’t I understand even better what I am reading?  I don’t spend time constructing logical
arguements to determine if my wife loves ice cream, I ask her, and then I watch her eat it.

So it is with God.  The Bible was never intended to be the only source of the truth of God.  God
is the source of truth about God.  The Bible matches up to the person becuase the people who
wrote it were also in personal realationships with God too.  Since you know the person (God) you
can recognize Him/Her when other people are talking about the same person.  The ways they
describe God will be familar to your experience.

Also, I think there is something alluring about mystery in a relationship.  Just because I don’t
know every darn thing about my wife dosen’t mean it’s not possible to love her.  It is an element
that draws me closer to her.  I am drawn to mystery and beauty.  I want discover more about the
mystery and be drentched in her beauty as often as I can.

Why is God different?  He/She is mysterous, and so very beautiful – it brings tears to my eyes to
remember our conversations and our time spent together.

Spiritual truth is learned over time – slowly, through an intimate relationship with God.  It is
learned, forgotten, and relearned anew, just like a relationship with my wife.  God is not a
speciem to be studied under a microscope in a controlled enviornment, nor is my wife.  That is
approaching the problem with a wrong paradigm in mind.  If you can’t control the subject of
observation in order to get repeatable behavior, such an endeavor won’t work.  Think of learning
about a person by being in a relationship, love being the fuel that drives you, not a quest to
conquer by intellectual understanding. Its unpredictable and chaotic, but it is the only way that
will garner the most accurate truth.

Tell me if you can – what is more imporant in life than relationships?  Isn’t it worth any cost
to love and know others regardless of varying options about them?  Why live your life on the
basis of other people’s confusion?  Mabye we can take other people’s word for some things, such
as my car is drivable for long distances according to my mechanic, but for heaven sakes, I’m not
going to rely only on other people to learn about my wife and then tell me the truth they
discovered about her- I want to find out for myself. I have a brain and the ability to reason,
why can’t I do this? How much more is this true about God?

So I say again, you can find spiritual truth.  It is not easy, and it is not instant. It takes a
lifetime. It is found in a thousand intimate moments thoughout your lifetime in a relationship
with God himself.  You will often be wrong, but over time you will be more and more right.  With
the same assurance and authority that I tell you something true about my wife, I can tell you
what I did about God in my first message.  I have been granted the authority because of the
reality of the relationship.  I have the authority to tell people truth about my wife because I
know her very well. I can tell truth about God too – not because I only read a book and am a good
Hebrew scholar or have a grasp of the ancient mind or a mastery of exegesis (I am not good at any of these things), but because I am in a relationship with Him for long enough to have learned those truths, forgotten them, and relearned them again until they were ingrained within me.

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