Wednesday 9 February 2022

Why has our communication to and from God *apparently* broken-down?

"Why has our communication to and from God apparently broken-down?"

This vital question is discussed by Francis Berger in a clarifying blog post which continues the argument from here; and takes its cue from the common complaint of modern Men that - on the one hand - God seems unresponsive to prayer; and on the other hand - that we do not seem to receive the kind of knowledge and guidance from God that seems to be promised by the New Testament. 

The lines-of-communication between God and individual Men are therefore perceived as weak, confused, or altogether absent. 

I think the reason for the 'breakdown in communication' with God may be more fundamental and intrinsic than God wanting a new kind of communication. There seems to have been an inevitability about the dwindling power of indirect communication - expressed in the power of symbol, ritual, language etc. 

This has affected both prayer (transmitting communications to God); and also revelation (receiving communications from God). 

Many people apparently look for a divine revelation in words, visions or some other perceptual mode. Yet our modern alienated-isolated consciousness is hardly capable of this, and even when it happens modern Men typically find such communication ambiguous - and/or doubt its authenticity. 

It may be that we are now constituted such that the direct knowing of primary thinking is not just desirable, but also the only way we can relate to God

As prayers in words lose power, and revelations in words are rare and confusing - we are called upon to recognize that we may simultaneously enable God to know us and we to know him - by the alignment of motivation and harmony of purpose which allows primary thinking to happen. 

Thus God may be telling us many things, all the time directly - yet we cannot, or refuse to, notice them; because we continue to demand voices, visions, and other communications which - even if we got them - we would mistrust or misinterpret.

My conclusion is that while indirect 'symbolic communications' between God and man are often weak or absent; direct knowing - or primary thinking 'shared' between God and Man - is happening all-the-time, and this is better than 'communications'. However; we need consciously to recognize and acknowledge its occurrence and validity.  


Doktor Jeep said...

We need to say "at least" instead of "amen" when praying for simple things that used to be possible without literal demons on human feet taking it away for spite.

easty said...

Its because we don't kill our own food. Killing your own food is a kind of sacrifice if prayer be coupled thereunto, even if you don't think of it as such or over-ritualize it. So a man of the 1800s who killed a rabbit and barbequeued it and said a prayer had the efficacy of sacrifices that the ancients did without realizing it, whereas when you buy those beef cutlets at the grocery store and slap them on the grill you don't. It turns out the gods do respond to sacrifice after all. Its a theory anyway.

Kathleen said...

I think this is a difficult thing for most people who wish to communicate with God to understand. How will God choose to speak with us? Symbology? Directly? Through others? Actions? Doubt is easily created. What if that “little voice in our head” pretends to speak for God? Is it God? Or someone (something) pretending to be God? This is a hard thing when you know that in the Old Testament God spoke directly, and in the New through Jesus. Which “mode” of communication from God in our present day is the one we should trust? So many questions.

Bruce Charlton said...

@easty - That sounds like trolling; but there is (intended or not) a grain of truth in the idea that much earlier - ancient - Man was indeed so immersed in the reality of nature that all of life because an effective symbol of the transcendent. Ancient Egypt is a prime example, the Byzantine Empire in its early centuries another. However, the point is that modern Man is Not like that - this kind of symbolic-ritual no longer works (or is too feeble to sustain faith) - otherwise things would not be as they are.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Kathleen - "Doubt is easily created" Yes indeed. Yet we need to notice consciously that this doubt is socially-directed at some things, but not others. Doubting the reality of God is high status - doubting that at-least six million Jews died in the Holocaust is punishable by prison and worse. Yet the first may be known directly, and the second is taken secondhand, on trust from experts and the media who - we know for sure - lie to us about Many things. This downgrading of doubt in our own direct experience and reason, but forbidding of doubt in 'official facts' - is lethal to Christianity in the context of a global, totalitarian and purposively-anti-Christian regime.

mobius said...

There is no shortage, but revelation will turn you away from modern society, So "That can't be right."

Bruce Charlton said...

@mob - Good point.