Through the years I’ve seen many books, workbooks, mini-books, and devotionals that basically said, if you’ll read this, and do what it says to do, you will know God better than you do now. And of course, multiple sermons on the same subject, many of which I preached myself. Religions throughout human history have talked about knowing their god more intimately. And many followers have made claims about doing this very thing. But since no god has ever actually revealed himself/herself/themselves, we can only take these people at their word.
In the Christian tradition that I spent most of my adult life in, we were told that the main way you get to know God (assuming, of course, that the Christian god is the only true god) was through the Bible. At first glance, this seems simple enough. Lots of authors through history (supposedly) writing about the same god, they surely will all be saying very similar things. After all, Jesus/God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the lord, and he changes not. All those good things. It would be like asking several of my friends and relatives to write about me. Surely there would be enough consistencies to be able to piece together a fairly accurate picture of who I am and what I’m like. I would think so. Yet, the God of the Old Testament is anything but consistent. There are so many places on the internet where you can go and see all the inconsistencies and contradictions concerning God and His character in the Old Testament. I will not spend much time here. But I do think of a quote by Richard Dawkins from The God Delusion that fits nicely here: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In my humble opinion, well said, Richard.
Then, along comes Jesus. It’s like good cop, bad cop. In the book of John, it’s written that Jesus said, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. But I don’t see the same thing. From the start, this schizophrenic God looks nothing like this Jesus we see in the gospels. A quick side note, I do not use the term “schizophrenic” lightly and I mean no disrespect to anyone suffering from this condition or having friends or relatives who do. So, as far as knowing God through the scriptures, its seems like a tough thing to figure out. I know all the evangelical, Bible school, word of faith answers, but those answers no longer make any sense to me. So when I see a devotional or book or whatever that says that I can know God better, but the book is based on the Bible, I’m skeptical.
What if we try to know “god” through our life experience, and the experience of others? Nope. That’s a totally fucked up method. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this.
Within Christianity (I will stick with this because this is my back ground) ministers, lay minsters, and plain ole’ church folk can’t agree on the nature, personality, motives, desires, or any other trait, of God. You could put 10 ministers from the same denomination in a room together, bring up a scripture about who God is and what He is like, and it’s likely that none of them will agree. That’s just a guess because I’ve not done a scientific study on this. But, my flavor of Christianity taught that God wants us healthy, wealthy, and happy. Many other flavors think the opposite, or something like that. So, between a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Word of Faith/Charismatic, Church of Christ, etc, and subgroups within these groups, they all “know God” differently. And they all believe that they are right, and others are wrong.
And then there is the extremely small possibility that the Christian god is not the “real god” (eye roll), will the real God please fucking come forward! Don’t hold your breath, people. Some religions say that god is knowable like the Christian religion. Others claim that we can never “know” god. And some claim that we are all god in some way. What about that? Do we just know ourselves?
Anyway, I was “inspired” to write this because of a devotional that I saw called Knowing the Heart of God. Which is even crazier than just knowing God! Knowing his heart? Shit, I don’t know my “heart”!! Whatever the fuck that is?!?! So, if you know how to know god or the heart of god, please share so we can all have this pleasure. In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to stay grounded in reality, being aware of what’s going on around me, and sometimes “inside” me. I hope you all are doing ok during the pandemic and all. If not, or if you have lost friends or family, my heartfelt condolences.