* * *My experience with God is... sketchy. I read "the book" :) I have heard countless people say they know things/have experienced things with God. But it's been hard to believe that a real God who is all that others say he is would only reveal himself personally to some and not to others. That in many ways contradicts the nature that those who say they've experienced God say they've experienced! I don't KNOW God. Can I have faith in him? Not really. I can't have faith in something I've not directly experienced. I can think MAYBE it's true, real, etc. I can even think it probably is, but until I have a direct experience that persuades me personally that there is a God, I can't KNOW if it's so or not. I can choose to trust you or someone else who says you have experienced God, but truly that means I am having faith in YOU, not God. I'm having faith in the inerrancy of the Gospels. I'm having faith in the accuracy of the disciples' accounts. I am not having faith in God. To have faith in God would require that I had had a PERSONAL EXPERIENCE of God that engendered trust. On the contrary, my experiences have been that I have tried to have a personal experience in every way I could possibly come up with, including just plain sobbing/begging for years, and the fact is, it didn't happen. So my personal experience is actually one that adds up to God probably not being real, at least not in the "Christian" sense. I have personal experience with there being a spiritual dimension to life. I've seen, heard, touched, felt that. But a personal God? Not so much. I guess I'm saying that I had faith in OTHERS for a few decades, and now I'm not going to do that anymore. When it comes to God/beliefs that form my decisions, perspective, etc... I will not allow my beliefs to be built on faith in others' experiences any longer. I can't tell my children, "Well, we brought you up, telling you thus-and-so was true because so-and-so told us that thus-and-so was true." That's no explanation! I must know something to say I believe in it and that requires a personal experience with it.
So here's another question: Carl Jung and lots of people I've been reading who practice Jungian psychology talk about a "knowing"/intuitiveness/wildness" that is in all of us. They even talk about a collective consciousness... almost as though each of our individual "knowing places" are the nerves that end up connecting to a common brain or something... Jung believed that's why we see common "archetypal" themes showing up in our dreams; the fairy tales, the folklore and the dramas in our individual lives. So how does that strike you? When I've asked my children if they have a "knowing place" they, without pause or reflection, immediately say, "yes, of course." They are quite familiar with it. I asked a roomful of kindergartners I was subbing for this last Spring and they all said the same. I asked them where that knowing place was and about 98% of them pointed to their chests. A couple pointed to their tummies! I've had some experience of this "knowing place." I know it's real... Wondering what you think about it.
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Really great questions, Cheryl. I'm particularly drawn to your comments about taking the word/testimonies of others' experiences as fodder for one's own faith. Too regularly, domestic faith relies on the "promises" of others to validate and prove itself.
God can do better. So can we.