Monday, 2 December 2013

Is it possible to convert people*directly*, without intermediate steps, from secular Leftist modernity to belief in a personal God?

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My own conversion to Christianity resembled that of CS Lewis (and was indeed much influenced by his writing) - in that it was gradual and multi-step, and highly intellectual and abstract.

First there was an increase in interest in 'sprituality' of a New Agey type, and also a recognition that human motivation seemed to require transcendental truth (as well as virtue and beauty); and a line of research about fertility which pointed to the traditionally-religious as the only group who resisted sub-fertility under modern conditions.

Then a conversion to an abstract and philosophical theism, focusing onto monotheism, and then the necessity that God be personal - and then Christianity - but initially a Christianity-by-elimination which could not really acknowledge the specific necessity of Jesus.

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But this is so peculiar a path, and contains so many pitfalls, that I wonder whether it would be possible to convert somebody like myself direct to belief in a personal God without going via the philosophical steps; because if it were possible, if it did happen, it would be stronger and more secure.

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The key recognition related to a personal God is that only a personal God enables life to be truly meaningful.

People may suppose that an abstract and philosophical understanding of the universe - with a God defined in terms of functions - will suffice, but actually it does not. For life to have meaning with such deistic beliefs, a person is relying upon a whole lot of unstated and unsupported assumptions.

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THE PROBLEM which requires solution is about my place in the scheme of things - the meaning and purpose of life - and meaning and purpose can only be understood in a relational sense. 

It is not merely a matter of understanding the 'set-up' of reality; but a matter of understanding what binds-me to reality - what binds, and what binds me specifically.

This means that reality must be concerned with me specifically, and I specifically must be concerned by reality.

This concern has to be personal, personalized, a matter of relationship.

There is no other possibility.

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So, in principle, it may be possible to induce a religious seeker to recognize that the only coherent and potentially-satisfying answer to their search - the only kind of answer which answers the questions - is that of a God who is Himself a personage and has a personal relationship with me specifically and I with Him specifically.

Such a line of reasoning would therefore need to paint a picture of God as a person with plans for each of us individually, as well as for 'humankind' in general.

Such a picture would surely need to deploy the family as its primary descriptive metaphor - thus, the depiction of ultimate reality would not be cosmological, nor philosophical, nor ethical and not abstract - but instead familial and concrete.  

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This line of argument does not take the seeker all the way to Christianity, but to a wider range of options - however it does go a lot further and faster than the line I took and CS Lewis took - and which so often peters-out without arriving anywhere viable.

And, indeed, if the description of reality in terms of a family is also a depiction of a loving family, a family for whom love is the primary and highest motivation - then this probably takes you as far as Judaism and Christianity specifically - in one great leap - and all that remains is the choice between them.

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