Reasons why I can no longer believe: 2 – God as a ‘no show’
When you look through the Bible, you don’t see God hiding. He’s quite visible in many ways. Here are just a few appearances by God and company: a booming voice from the mountain, a pillar of cloud/fire, sending angels to wipe out armies, sending fire to consume sacrifices (and people), causing earthquakes, choirs of angels, Jesus, voice + blinding light. There are many more. And you read about a fair amount of miracles and theophanies in early Church writings. In fact, when you read the New Testament and very early fathers, visions, miracles, visitations and so forth seemed to be expected.
Pardon me then if I expect that the same God ought to be similarly visible today. But of course He isn’t. The best anyone seems to be able to do is vagaries like, “He lives in my heart”, “I feel His spirit in me”, or “God miraculously fixed my bike.”
Sorry but I can’t live on vagaries and apologies for a no-show God. Nor do centuries old stories carry the day. Like the song says, “Used to be’s don’t count anymore.”
All the apostles needed more than vagaries and promises. They hid in the upper room and were convinced it was all over, until the risen Jesus appeared to them. Thomas wouldn’t believe the other apostles until he could see Jesus. Paul wasn’t listening to anyone’s arguments or evangelization until Jesus hit him with a flash-bang. And when the apostles went out, they backed up their words with demonstrations of God’s power.
So pardon me for expecting an active, ‘on site’ God, like the one described in the Bible. Pardon me if apologetic explanations for a God who must remain hidden don’t carry me. Sorry man, but the faith of the apostles would interest me a lot. The faith of the apologists does not.
To end this, I’m reposting something I put together before to explain just what I mean when I say, “God is a no show.”
God is no show in that He never responds to anything. Like, “Loving father who did promise in your Word that if 2 or 3 agree on anything, and that if we pray according to your will, you will grant us good gifts even more readily than our earthly fathers: we ask that you [heal Nancy’s insanity and restore her to her right mind; bring Joe home alive from Iraq; restore Jane from her paralysis; bring Jim into your kingdom; stop the horrible storms in Bangladesh, or the war in Iraq, or the genocide in Darfur, and so on and so forth]. So there’s God not showing up by answering prayer… any prayer. [Yeah, I can say it myself. “God does respond. Sometimes He says, ‘Yes’ and sometimes, ‘No’. He has a plan for those people, in His own time. Keep praying….” And so on. You do realize don’t you, that the ‘sometimes God says yes and sometimes God says no’ bit is a logical fallacy? It’s circular.]
You know as well as I do that these prayers go unheeded: that believers don’t have better physical health, or better mental health: that believers have the same troubles with divorce, alcohol, promiscuity, and other sins as the rest of the world. In short, you can’t see any difference in the lives of believers. [Yes. Some believers are wonderful people. So are some non-believers.] And this does not change over time either. Chuck was an impatient, opinionated jerk who shows no respect for his wife, and 5, 10, 25 years after his conversion, he’s still the same. You’ve seen any number of similar cases. So there’s God as a no show in the lives of the people He’s supposed to be dwelling in.
Look at the Church. In Paul’s day they came with both a message and with power. Know anyone today who can say that? Plenty of messages, but “if you don’t believe my words, believe on the evidence of the miracles” would fall flat on its face today. So God’s a no show in the Church.
And then let’s look at me and a few other de-converts I’ve heard from. We saw our faith slipping. We didn’t want that to happen. We read books about our struggles, we read our Bibles, we prayed fervently, we talked to other believers, we fought the direction we found ourselves falling in. And we screamed, “God! I do NOT want to lose my faith. I want to know you. Please: show up. Do anything: a vision, a miracle, a dream, anything. You’re all knowing and all powerful. You can come up with whatever is needed to pull me back from this precipice. DON”T let me go!” And from our loving, heavenly Father, we heard………………………………… So God’s a no show in the hour of our most desperate scream for help, assurance, comfort, visitation, and rescue.