Is God Personal? A Letter to a Deist

Is God Personal? A Letter to a Deist

It would seem it is quite hard to say anything about the deity seeing that the sizes of the universe demonstrate that God is far advanced over us mere mortals.  It would seem presumptuous of us to say anything about him, especially if those ideas lessoned his character in any way. Therefore, to say that he is personal or impersonal would be a presumptuous statement limiting him by imposing a human characteristic upon him. It seems it would be closer to the truth to refer to Him as trans-personal or beyond personality,  personality being a human characteristic. Jesus hints at this when he said that the deity knows every hair on our heads. This would indicate that His personal knowledge must be far greater than any human being. This might raise the question does not a personal knowledge of someone infer in itself a degree of a personal relationship?

The bigger question is, Why would one want to believe that the deity is impersonal? Would believing in a universe with an impersonal God be any different than a universe without a God? It surely is more convenient and comfortable to live in the universe with an impersonal God than a trans-personal one that might hold men responsible for their behavior. It does seem to me that belief in an impersonal God is not much different from atheism on a pragmatic level. The benefit from such a belief or non-belief would simply be to avoid any uncomfortable conclusion about God. It also would give one the convenience and comfort of avoiding some hard questions and decisions about life and death.

Of course, the truth is, if there is a divine trans-personal God like the Biblical God it really does not matter what we believe about Him. We still will be judged by His will and our decisions or even the lack of them. It will not matter whether or not we ignore or dodge the questions. The safe position is to believe in a trans-personal God. If there is no trans-personal god, it really doesn’t matter. Does it? However, if there is that would open the possibility that we share in some of his characteristics like anger and love. It comes back to whether or not you believe that man created God in his image or God created man in his.

Moreover, to say that God is impersonal is to say that billions of people that claim to have a relationship with Him are delusional or simply liars. Such a belief would have to be totally subjective unless you could get into the skin of every one of those people that claim they have a relationship with God. The most that any person could say is I personally do not have a relationship with God. Of course, because an individual does not have a relationship with God does not mean or prove that God is impersonal and has no personal relationship with any humans. It also seems that a lack of faith in a personal God would slam the door shut on having any experience with God. Why would a person want to do that? If a person has the choice of living in a universe where there is a personal God or a universe where there is no trans-personal God why would anyone choose the impersonal? We all have reasons for our beliefs and it seldom reason.

Coming Up Against God-C.S Lewis

Coming Up Against God 

“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

What Lewis is taking about is probably one of his forms of experiencing God, but is something seldom experienced in our age.  Why is that?  It’s because we moderns look down on everything, even God, and have forgotten the meaning of pride and humility.  We have set ourselves up as judges of the world and of God Himself.  I often hear people say “I cannot believe in the God you believe in because He is too hard or that He is too easy.”  In this they are simply saying that any God which they believe in must conform to their standards and taste.  Now think about that for a minute.  What are these people really saying?  Are they not setting themselves up as the judge of God?  Moreover, if you were to stumble upon an all knowing and powerful God, how likely would it be that all of your values, judgments, and appetites would line up with His?  Before you answer, take awhile to think about it, for your answer will tell you where you stand with Lewis’s God.

Now that you have thought about your answer, let’s analyze it in view of Lewis’s remarks.  If you said that your values, judgments, and your will line up with the God you believe in, it simply means that you have not experienced what Lewis refers to as “coming up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.”  Moreover, it would mean that you are prideful and that you have not experienced the true God or at the least Lewis’s God, or if you have, you have forgotten the experiences.  However, either way it is a strong indication that you do not know the true God.

A further test of your standing before God could be calculated by asking a question of yourself which God might ask you someday.  What would your answer be if you knocked on heaven’s door and a voice said, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  Would your answer be something along the line of, “Well, I am a good person.  I kept your commandments.  I did the best I could.  I was fair and honest.  I never hurt anyone.  I went to church every week.”  Unfortunately, there are some real problems with these answers if it is Lewis’s God that you are talking to.  One is that they are all self-judgments based on comparing oneself with others, which has little to do with the question.  Do you think God is concerned about how you compare with others?  His reply might be, “So you think you’re better than others?”  Furthermore, for most human beings these statements would, in themselves, be a lie.  Yes, you might be a good person, but by whose standards—yours or your neighbor’s?

What is the right answer?  It is an answer that only those who have experienced what Lewis is talking about can know.  Here it is.  You will lead me into heaven because that is the kind of God You are, and I know this because I came up against You in the person of Your Son and from that day on I knew You and my true self.  I knew that I could never measure up to Your standards, and if I were to be saved it would only be through Your grace and love.

 

 

Coming Up Against God

Coming Up Against God

“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

What Lewis is taking about is probably one of highest forms of experiencing God, but is something seldom experienced in our age.  Why is that?  It’s because we moderns look down on everything, even God, and have forgotten the meaning of pride and humility.  We have set ourselves up as judges of the world and of God Himself.  I often hear people say “I cannot believe in the God you believe in because He is too hard or that He is too easy.”  In this they are simply saying that any God which they believe in must conform to their standards and taste.  Now think about that for a minute.  What are these people really saying?  Are they not setting themselves up as the judge of God?  Moreover, if you were to stumble upon an all knowing and powerful God, how likely would it be that all of your values, judgments, and appetites would line up with His?  Before you answer, take awhile to think about it, for your answer will tell you where you stand with Lewis’s God.

Now that you have thought about your answer, let’s analyze it in view of Lewis’s remarks.  If you said that your values, judgments, and your will line up with the God you believe in, it simply means that you have not experienced what Lewis refers to as “coming up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.”  Moreover, it would mean that you are prideful and that you have not experienced the true God or at the least Lewis’s God, or if you have, you have forgotten the experiences.  However, either way it is a strong indication that you do not know the true God.

A further test of your standing before God could be calculated by asking a question of yourself which God might ask you someday.  What would your answer be if you knocked on heaven’s door and a voice said, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  Would your answer be something along the line of, “Well, I am a good person.  I kept your commandments.  I did the best I could.  I was fair and honest.  I never hurt anyone.  I went to church every week.”  Unfortunately, there are some real problems with these answers if it is Lewis’s God that you are talking to.  One is that they are all self-judgments based on comparing oneself with others, which has little to do with the question.  Do you think God is concerned about how you compare with others?  His reply might be, “So you think you’re better than others?”  Furthermore, for most human beings these statements would, in themselves, be a lie.  Yes, you might be a good person, but by whose standards—yours or your neighbor’s?

What is the right answer?  It is an answer that only those who have experienced what Lewis is talking about can know.  Here it is.  You will lead me into heaven because that is the kind of God You are, and I know this because I came up against You in the person of Your Son and from that day on I knew You and my true self.  I knew that I could never measure up to Your standards, and if I were to be saved it would only be through Your grace and love.  Lyle