Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Necessity of Spiritual Encounter

The pattern of scripture is not that men choose God but that men are encountered by God and a relationship ensues. Pelagic theologies frame man's capacity as something capable of initiating a relationship with God, but I think the scriptures are clear that man would never bother with God if God didn't intervene. It's not that we cannot come to an unaided conclusion that God exists or even comprehend his attributes, but in the gap between knowing about someone and knowing him personally, mankind can do none other than chiseling that data to our own liking (idolatry). God, the infinite and transcendent, is never subject to our powers of drawing him out.

Folk bent on discovering God, or knowing the Great Truth--Buddha, Lao-Tzu, or Plato for instance--do not find God the Creator, nor the Son who conquered death. They merely rearrange the particulars of projections of humanity and/or human reasoning. God as he is, God the only all-wise, the self-existent, the maker of heaven and earth, he who sees the end from the beginning, the one who talks, they do not find. Humans cannot find God, he must "find" them.

There is the scriptural command to seek God with one's whole heart with the promise of finding him as a result. However, just a modicum of thought will recognize that it was the word from God to seek and find that was itself the initiator of process in the first place. God "saying" something is how it always begins. God must show up in the places we can perceive (but not necessarily see) and poke us, shake us, call us or we remain apart. If one is ever to truly know God as he truly is, a spiritual encounter initiated by him is absolutely necessary.

7 comments:

  1. I think you are touching on one of the misunderstandings that rear up between Calvinists and Arminians. I am on the latter side of the family. Calvinists accuse Arminians of being Pelagian and we often use phrases that would give that impression. But we understand that without the intervention of the Holy Spirit and the working of grace, we would be powerless to approach Him.

    Good point.

    Grace and peace.

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  2. Pumice,
    I hear you! Arminians are as dedicated to the impetus of God in salvation as any Calvinist, though Arminians do not see its result as infallibly efficacious as do Calvinists.

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  3. SLW,

    It seems Scripture teaches that we can be taught the things of God as a child and continue in it through our adulthood. If this is true, where is the encounter? Is it as a 5 year old in Sunday School or at family devotion? Or is it possible that one can demonstrate all the understanding and qualities of faith in CHrist only to be self-deceived because an encounter never occured?

    Thanks, Ian

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  4. Good question Ian.

    The encounter is in the Word... "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." The Word impacts and affects people at spiritual rather than merely rational or even emotional levels.

    I do not believe it is possible that one can demonstrate all the understanding and qualities of faith in Christ only to be self-deceived because an encounter never occured? If one had such faith, it would have been the result of such an encounter, even if they would not use my language to describe it or recognize it as such.

    I do believe it is possible for someone to demonstrate the qualities of knowledge and end up being self-deceived (e.g. a religionist), and I believe someone can be sincerely mis-believing (e.g. a devout Muslim) and be deceived. It is even possible to demonstrate the miraculous in the name of Jesus and end up self-deceived (Matthew 7:21-23).

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  5. Amen! I need a lot of poking and shaking at times and no one does it better than God! :-)

    God bless and have a great weekend :-)

    ~Ron

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  6. I enjoyed this so much, thank you for writing such honesty. I agree completly.

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  7. Rachel,
    Welcome to the Sound. I endeavor to bring the wood sparing the varnish. ;-)

    Thanks for the encouragement.

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