Features

Where is God hiding?

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By Melisa Peebles On March 23 and 24, Bethel hosted the 9th Annual Philosophy Lectures, featuring respected Philosopher Dr. Michael Rea. Not only does he hold a position as professor of philosophy, but he also directs the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame. Rea gave one lecture each day, with a focus on “Divine Hiddenness.” His goal was to address the question of why God sometimes remains hidden from his followers. His talk on the hidenness of God presented students with a set of new answers to the question that he says many Christians find themselves asking, ‘Where is God? Why can’t I hear his voice?’ There are many answers given to try and solve this problem such as unresolved sin, that God does it for our own sake, that we are being shaped by God or that God is preserving our free will. Rea however had a different approach. He proposed the idea that perhaps the reason that God is silent is not because he doesn’t love us but perhaps divine silence is nothing more or less than an expression of God’s personality- his general ‘style’ of interacting with creatures like us. “God is wholly other-totally alien and mysterious,” said Rea. Because God is not a creature like us, Rea made the point that there is no reason to think that we have enough information about God to interpret divine silence negatively. He suggested that perhaps this pain we feel is a result of a dysfunctional refusal to accept God for who God is, making the point that the hurt that one experiences from God’s divine silence is not God’s fault. “Being pained by another’s behaviors is our problem, not theirs,” said Rea. “We need to work through it.” He explained that we should be seeking communion with God and not primarily communication. Coping with divine silence would then be a matter of training ourselves to experience divine silence pleasurably as just a part of God’s personality, rather than painfully as a slight against us. The talk left many with questions and afterward many students took part in a Q&A session that lasted more than an hour.
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