Sunday, June 01, 2014

R. Douglas Geivett on the Hiddenness of God

"We cannot foreclose on the question of God’s willingness to disclose himself and his purposes in some concrete, particularized way without first looking into the evidence for the authenticity of an alleged revelation from him; even if a quest for some particular truth of the matter is scandalous by today’s ephemeral standards, It will hardly do to accuse God of hiding from us if we have not sincerely sought him in appropriate ways, or if we have insisted on prescribing for God the conditions under which we would approve a revelation of himself."

—R. Douglas Geivett

[HT: Truthbomb Apologetics]

1. "IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY?" IN JESUS UNDER FIRE, EDS. MICHAEL J. WILKINS AND JP MORELAND (GRAND RAPIDS: ZONDERVAN PUBLISHING HOUSE, 1995), 194.

4 comments :

Steelwheels said...

I like the way Dallas Willard framed this question, he says, "The hiddenness of God in this...is one in which God is not obvious. And that is because he is interested in the will. And this theme - deus absconditus, to use the Latin; everyone needs a little Latin - is an old one in the history of the church. Because God doesn't overwhelm you. God comes in ways that are gentle. And the reason for that is because, if we - if God didn't hide from us, we couldn't hide from him. You see, my knowledge of this thing is not up to where my will is. The basic idea here is that God hides to permit us to hide from him, if we want to. See he's so big, that if he didn't hide, we couldn't hide. You may need to think about that some. Now that's why there is a divine conspiracy. A conspiracy is something that is hidden. God does not overwhelm us. He does not jump down our throats. He remains hidden and available to those who seek him."

Remington B said...

The hiddenness of God is one area where apologists have a very difficult time coming up with answers that make sense. Part of that is due to their theological bent. God's hiddenness simply runs against the grain of what they say God wants and what seems like common sense.

I think Geivett makes a good point: have we looked for God? In other words, the problem isn't necessarily (or wholly) that God is not visible, but, rather, that people are willfully blind.

The other solutions often offered simply don't make sense. Take the one offered by Dallas Willard above. The idea is that if God gave us any more evidence of himself than what we currently have, he would be "overwhelming us" in some inappropriate way and that we have some appropriate need to hide from God. How are we supposed to rationally cash that out? What about someone like Moses who had much more evidence of God than Richard Dawkins. Does Willard's explanation commit us to some odd psychology where everyone who doesn't receive Moses-level revelation simply can't handle it? In what way can't they handle it? What exactly does that mean?

Crude said...

Does Willard's explanation commit us to some odd psychology where everyone who doesn't receive Moses-level revelation simply can't handle it? In what way can't they handle it? What exactly does that mean?

I suppose one way to understand it would be that a God who was constantly displaying His power in obvious and overt ways would get people to submit and believe not necessarily in 'God' but 'In that terrifying powerful thing, whatever it is.' Maybe constantly shows of force and displays of power would provoke believe in something, but not what God wants us to believe in.

Remington B said...

Then will God remain hidden in heaven? Otherwise the saints will believe "in that terrifying powerful thing, whatever it is." Furthermore, if God is revealing himself so much, why would they believe in a terrifying-whatever-it-is?

Traditionally, Christians have believed that saints in heaven are impeccable because they have a clearer vision of God. Willard explanation requires us to turn that entirely on its head: a clearer vision of God is actually harmful to mankind's relationship with him.

Sorry, but it's obvious Willard's route makes absolutely no sense.

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