Monday, January 26th, 2009
Hope College Campus
Dr. Boyd H. Wilson

Flashes of Zen: Life Without Fear

This was a presentation advertised as a great opportunity for learning from a deep thinker of life, and so I attended, hopeful to learn of many new ways to know God well.  About 1/3 of the way through, I started to sense an aggression toward others:

"I did not go to a liberal arts school. I went to a place where I was not challenged to think, not challenged to learn outside the boundaries of my own beliefs. I went to Moody Bible Institute. Pause for audience laughter. There, I only had to read about things I already believed, already knew. ... I had not learned how to listen to what others believed. I was taught to be defensive. I was too busy judging, condemning, and then destroying what others believed — in order to establish the TRUTH of what I believed."

I'm sorry that's what you did and learned at Moody. I think others did and learned other things.

I suspect this lecturer is infatuated with open armed acceptance of others. Sounds kind of like the academic version of the new "emergent church" movement — very much in vogue. Like one other person I knew over a decade ago, he is tremendously graceful to all except the person he perceives as not graceful enough. This back-handed close mindedness is typical of some long-tenured academic types, who have grown comfortable with their audience of students. Read Alan Bloom's book "Closing of the American Mind" to get a clear view of this seductive environment.

The only other section of the talk that I care to comment on is when the speaker set in to directly attack God's character. When I find a person demanding of God a reply to their logic, I can't help but think of Job. Encased in the required homey narrative a Rabbinic or Eastern searcher, Dr. Wilson tells the story of two wanderers who come upon the person of another religion praying to God. "Do you think our God is listening to him?" asks one to the other. And the other replies "If He's not listening, why not? If He is listening, then what are we to be about?"

The dialectic is set up with the first question. I've wondered why the author of the story sticks in the "our" in the dialogue unless they're trying to set up conflict. The text continues building on the conjured and pompous conflict. I don't see any un-resolvable dialectic. I would ask that others don't try to speak into existence a conflict they desire, that does not exist. If you see a conflict or a threat in these two questions, then you do not understand me or know the God I believe in. Let me try to explain. Does God give ear? Of course he does. If He listens, what are we about? We are to be a conduit of a loving God. Where is the problem in this?

You distinguish between hearing and listening. You allow that "of course God hears", but your logic accuses him of not listening. Why? Because he does not act and do what you deem appropriate. You are actually sitting in a position of judgment against God's inactivity. You are presuming to hold a better standard of Love than God does. This is the same thing that Job did. I am not comfortable in such a place of arrogance, so I have to abandon my travel with you. I would instead choose Job's path of putting my hand over my mouth and sitting in a position to hear what the maker of a universe may say.

You ask if God does hear the prayers of any religion, then why should anyone choose to be a Christian vs anything else? Well, my friend, because I believe in the Christian witness. Is your concept of Christianity so narrow-minded to believe that I would be possessive with my God and not "let" him hear others? Hearing others, even answering their prayers is of no threat to what I believe. Would I try to contain and bound him? He is God. I am man. He is free to hear and love who He chooses. This has nothing to do with my choice to follow the teachings of Christ. I like the title of Christian. Please do not judge or demean me because of the identity with Christ I carry in my name. Why does Christ offend you?

Created by brian. Last Modification: Saturday 13 of February, 2010 11:51:32 CST by brian.