“This morning, our pastor said, ‘Religion is Man’s search for God. Christianity is God’s search for Man.’ I like that. I think it’s a big part of why I dislike the term ‘religious’ and feel I must distinguish between being ‘religious’ and being a ‘Christian.'”
The above was written to me in an email by Melissa, a friend of mine, on a recent Sunday, I haven’t known how to respond. It’s one of those sophist kind of statements that sounds interesting, and may actually mean something interesting, but instead has just confused me more.
Being the sophist that I am, perhaps I can respond in kind.
Is Christianity really God’s search for Man? And what does that mean? If God is all-powerful, why does God need to search for Man? I would hope that God doesn’t need to search for Man. Man searches for God, perhaps, but the other way around?
And what about the statement that religion is Man’s search for God? That sounds more reasonable. But if that’s true, if religion is Man’s search for God, what is so bad about that? In my bible study sessions, practically every Sunday Rick suggests that we are searching for God. If finding God is so easy, then why is a whole planet searching? And if God exists, shouldn’t a person want to find Him? Wouldn’t God want Man to find Him?
I’m not even going to get into the whole “Science Versus Religion” debate. Not today anyway. I have friends (more than one) who have told me that they have seen Jesus. I don’t discount their stories on scientific grounds. Indeed, if there is a God, then pretty much anything is possible, and visions of any or all of the Holy Trinity will occur.
However, is a vision of God or Jesus the same thing as finding God? What does it mean to find God? Obviously not the same thing as locating the deity in a bounded region of space. Do you even have to believe in God to find him? I have a younger brother who has argued for Pantheism, the belief that everything is God. My brother would argue that I’m God, you’re God, and that rock over there is God. That would make God relatively easy to find.
But a pantheistic God would diminish the nature of God as understood by Christians, as I’m sure my Christian friends will not hesitate to point out to me. Pantheism is just a confusion about the nature of matter and energy, about the universe. If there is a God, an understanding of Him must somehow contribute to one’s life more than just labeling rocks.
If you read between the lines, you will see that my search for God isn’t going well. Maybe I can’t claim that I’m searching for God. I don’t believe in God. I guess I’m searching for what the idea of God represents to those who believe in Him. Having that idea in my mind wouldn’t be bad for an atheist, would it?
Melissa, thank you for caring about me enough to write me emails about religion, Christianity, and God. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for adding some goodness to the world. And keep praying for me. I don’t know how that can help me, but it can’t hurt.