How Can We Know What God Is Really Like? So What?
By Mike Edwards
Many are inclined to believe there is a Creator, but it’s understandable why many find it hard to believe in an invisible, inaudible God or Spirit. A major obstacle may be claims made about God, often according to one’s understanding or interpretation of the Bible. It is claimed God condemns gays, God is bias against women in roles in the institutional church or other settings, and that God has created a place such as Hell where unbelievers will suffer forever after their death here on earth. It is a hard sell to suggest God’s character is contrary to our deepest moral intuitions.
The Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God
Biblical scholars with a deep respect for Scriptures don’t interpret the Bible as opposing women priests or preachers or that God condemns gays. See here. See here. Scholars don’t agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. And we can’t prove God inspired thus controlled the thoughts of the writers to always portray God accurately. It is just as likely that the Bible is uncontrolled writings that encourage contemplating what a loving God is really like. See Rethinking The Bible
So how can we know what God is like?
It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Beliefs about God’s love that don’t match how we know we ought to love our neighbor may be amiss. Even the Bible implies perfect human love and God’s love are one and the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like through our moral consciences. Don’t believe everything you hear about God! See here.
Why would a relational God be a total mystery?
The universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Even those who claim God is a mystery judge God according to moral human intuitions. They claim God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. (Crazy talk to suggest God can do bad but then call it good). Christians speak of the Holy Spirit guiding them. Unless the Spirit talks to us audibly or visibly, we must discern the Spirit’s guidance by examining our intuitions.
How can we have a relationship with God if we can’t be certain?
God’s plan isn’t a detailed blueprint, to let us in on future secrets, but a general one to set us free to love. A free future can’t be known. God doesn’t have to speak directly about moral decisions. Some decisions are clearly immoral — murder, stealing, adultery. Many decisions aren’t clearly moral. God joins us in an unknown future to take risks to change the world.
So what? Our mental images of God can make a difference in our relationship with God and how we treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the greater their influence. God’s influence is the only way I know to explain my constant desires to be a better husband, father, and friend. I don’t fail as often as I think I might on my own. Why is God so hidden? God may communicate in less demonstrative ways to allow for non-coerced decisions that lead to lasting convictions. God may speak to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org