My last post touched on the issue of bias and how bias may relate to the credibility of believers who try to “defend the faith.” I argued that most Christians, if they think about what really tugs at them, will realize that they actually have a bias away from faith – with its rules and restrictions – and not toward it. That was certainly my experience. Many skeptics attempt to stake out a “neutral” position, applauding themselves for their lack of bias and their objectivity. They think their approach is more “scientific.” If God wanted to contact me, they conclude, He would do a better job of making that clear. But despite the enlightened tone of this approach, keeping a perpetually “open mind” has some negatives worth considering.
The principal one has to do with the nature of relationship. God, we believe, is personal in nature. Indeed, the Trinity consists of three distinct persons who share a divine nature, characterized by a mutual and eternal love. Understanding just how this works is beyond us; it is one of the mysteries of Christianity that is rooted in faith. But suffice it to say that, having made us in His image, it is fair to conclude that we were ultimately destined for relationship with Him. Our best destiny, then, is to partake in this relationship in a fuller way when our days on Earth wind to a close.
What characterizes friendship? Different things in different cultures, no doubt. But has any culture ever developed a concept of relationship that involves “indifference?” Has any culture produced relationships in which one recognizes intellectually that their neighbor “might be there,” while expressing an utter lack of any interest as to who they are, what they are about or what matters to them? Is there any reason why that should be different for God?
After all, is it not obvious that we were made for relationship? Doesn’t loneliness, like an illness, drain the life and vitality out of people? Isn’t solitary confinement so devastating precisely because it deprives the prisoner of contact with other human beings? Vibrant and robust relationship is, without question, one of our fundamental needs as well as the source of our greatest joy. This is especially true of that one special relationship that most people seek – that “soul mate” with whom they wish to grow old.
On the horizontal plane (that is to say, one human being to another), it is wise to approach this task with an open mind. However, after consideration, some conclusions are drawn as a person grows closer to some people and away from others. Ultimately, when a person finds the one he wants to spend his life with, he is called to make a commitment. His mind must move from open to – not quite closed – but not asking the same basic questions anymore either. This allows the relationship to become deeper and stronger. Moving to the vertical plane, there are not multiple possible partners who could be acceptable; instead, there is one God who is calling us to relationship with Him. He has left the seeds of that desire in us and so it’s natural that we seek Him, but because He wants our choice to be free, He leaves it to us to make the decision to accept or reject His gift.
When a person maintains a perpetually open mind as it relates to God, he loses out on this opportunity for relationship, in the same way that someone who refuses to become attached to another person will, in the end, remain alone. But “aloneness” from God is not simply the loneliness that marks the last days of the widower, or the plight of the prisoner in solitary. Separated from the source of all perfection, with the prospect of an eternity of isolation, it is “hell” indeed.
Posted by Al Serrato