So great a cloud of witnesses…

I’m reading Children of God (spoiler warning), the sequel to Mary Doria Russell’s Si-fi work The Sparrow.

In the book there is a passage where the author describes the experience of a transformation from believing in God, to experiencing God in a personal way. The description echoed my own “ecstatic” moments. The sensation of being overwhelmed by God’s love, knowing there was nothing that I had done, sacrificed or offered that could measure up to the fulfillment of that experience. The experience is (was for me) very much like being in a river (of living water). It’s not a static fulfillment, like having a glass or pitcher filled. It’s more like the glass is suspended in and carried by the river. The glass is not holding the water, the water is holding the glass.

This reminded me of one of my earliest posts last year about Anne Rice. As I mentioned at the time she narrated a description of experiencing the presence of God that caused me to wonder if she had become a Christian.

Which brings me to the point.

When Paul spoke to “the men of Athens” he pointed out that their own writers understood we are God’s children. Our respective experiences of the divine indicate that there is in fact an objective reality to our experiences, they are common and recorded in history.

It is a simple fact that man experiences what he understands to be the divine love of God.

For that fact to become more than just data requires a response of faith.

In keeping with Russell’s books – Deus vult – God will’s it so.

Which is unfortunate because that phrase was the battle cry of the First Crusade. Like Allah akbar is today (at least our poets say so).

This would seem to highlight yet another objective fact.

We collectively understand that God is a loving God and so we kill each other, we understand that God is the greatest good and respond with great evil. If we are to believe both history and literature we individually and collectively know what is right but individually and collectively do the opposite.  We are guilty, and we know it. Guilt, if we are to believe history, literature and modern psychology, brings death.

It was like this thousands of years ago and it is like this today. As was explained in the Bible thousands of years ago, the tree of knowledge is not the tree of life. We are sinners and need redemption, not education.

This is still true (and I find that an amazing comfort).

We may argue inerrancy, inspiration and details of interpretation, but what is undeniable is the accuracy and constancy of the broad picture and the working solution the Bible gives us of God, mankind and their relationship. God loves mankind, mankind needs God’s love and forgiveness, God has made a way for each of us if we will accept it.

As the Bible tells us, we ignore this at our peril.

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