August 14, 2013
Going beyond "as we conceive Him to be"
The other day a Jehovah's Witness lady came knocking on my door, and we had an interesting conversation. She gave me a list of 10 Bible topics to choose from, and I chose "Jesus." A couple interesting things happened. For one thing, she kept trying to divert my choice of topic to other topics of her choice - and I kept hanging onto my topic and pulling the conversation back on track.
The other thing that was interesting was that I could see that she really does worship and love God ("as she understands Him to be"). We talked about how we view Father, Jesus (Son), and Holy Spirit. And I think I convinced her that I won't be changing my viewpoint about God's essential tri-unity and essential character of love-in-relationship. I was trying to explain it while avoiding coming across as "doctrinal platitudes" or "points." I don't know if I succeeded at all. Maybe I should have been more focused on "testimony" than "explanation," but explanation/ reasoning is her way of communicating.
But the thing is, over and over and over I meet people who really do seem to believe firmly, and who really do seem to love God -- perhaps "as they conceive Him to be," but in so many cases it seems to be more than just "conceiving." There is a kind of "glowing" or something (like a pregnant woman!) that goes beyond just "mental assent" to ... well, to love, I think. Maybe even to adoration, to worship, to certainty of God's reality and care and relationship.
That is why I have a hard time setting up "in or out" boundaries of "who is a believer." There seemed to be so many of those boundaries in my "church experience" in the past. And now it seems like for many, there are no boundaries, or at least very few.
I can actually see the attraction of "universalism" for so many people. Of course, some people view it with horror or disgust because ... well, maybe because "sinners deserve to burn in hell forever" ... or just because it is hard to give up a punishment-based route to salvation-or-be-damned ... rather than God's love-based purpose for creating mankind in the first plae.
I really don't know what I think ("believe") any more about a lot of things - hell, "end time," all the different eschatological theories, heaven or earth for humans after Christ's return (or some combination thereof?), whether Genesis 1-3 is literal or metaphorical, and so on. I find the details in the Bible to be rather undetailed on a lot of topics. How people ever managed to set up "proof-verse" proofs for a lot of things kind of baffles me.
I'll say one thing, though. There seems to be a lot more of GOD in approaches that go beyond just "literal" readings. Because I believe God is way beyond our limited understandings.