Dealing With the Hiddenness of God

by Max Andrews

Where is God? Jesus is in heaven. Well, where’s that? We know it’s a physical dimension so it’s just a reality removed from our spatiotemporal world.  The doctrine of omnipresence states that God is causally present everywhere. This is merely stating the obvious.  What’s the evidence from Scripture concerning God’s presence?

“If the statements it [the Bible] contains concerning matters of history and science can be proven by extra biblical records, by ancient documents recovered through archeological digs, or by the established facts of modern science to be contrary to the truth, then there is grave doubt as to its trustworthiness in matters of religion.” – Gleason Archer

Consider 1 Thess. 5.19-21. How do you test Scripture?  Well, test it for internal consistency, like contradictions and dissimilarities.  To test Scripture using Scripture to verify that what it is true is fallacious and circular reasoning.

 What about religious experience? How do you test religious experience? It is only subjective, other people cannot test your experiences (Ans. Objective experience, subjective in the sense that it didn’t happen to others, it’s a verification of the truth.  You can only share that experience-not a proof for others per se).  There are two aspects to religious experience (non-mystic). The testimonium Spiritu Sancti internum and the sensus divinitatis (the inner witness of the Spirit and the inner knowledge of the divine).  Alvin Plantinga treats the sensus divinitatis as a mental faculty.

Why doesn’t God prevent the world’s unbelief by making His existence starkly apparent? (i.e. by inscribing the label “made by God” on every atom or planting a neon cross in the heavens with the message “Jesus saves.”) On the Christian view it is actually a matter of relative indifference to God whether people believe that He exists or not.  God is interested in building a love relationship with us, not just getting us to believe that He exists. Even the demons believe He exists (Jas. 2.19). But nonetheless to address the original question, can we still know God exists?

There is no doubt that God is hidden to a certain degree.

Scripturally, Romans 1.19-21, 2.14-15 is a basis for natural revelation–our ability to know God through nature.  Here are a few examples of natural theology and arguments for the existence of God:
  • Cosmological (five or six versions)
  • Teleological/design (couple versions)
  • Greater mind
  • Moral (2 or so versions)

Pain and suffering certainly seems to have a role in divine hiddenness.  What about the problem of evil?  But wait, who are we to assess the situation?  We are no exist in such a privileged spatiotempral reference frame to conclude that God does not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing pain and suffering.  If God created a world circumstance where He revealed every reason for evil then that may have created undesirable and even worse circumstances. The world would be a haunted house.  “Peter, the reason why you have cancer is because it will bring about the salvation of dozes in Chiapas, Mexico decades from now.” Having that knowledge may cause Peter to rebel and not see that as morally justifiable given his limited spatiotemporal reference frame.

So, how do we cope and deal with God’s hiddenness?

God may not want you to know certain things at certain times (Lk 24.13-35).  We must be content with being ignorant about certain things.  We must persevere in obedience despite the lack of evidential purpose or progress that we expect.  You may not always see the fruit of the labor or the purpose behind some things.

God is there, persevere in that love relationship.  Go back to the real questions.

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Ps. 10.1)

 

 

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