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For context, I'd recommend reading first the answers to What exactly would count as a "positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship" between a person and a God? on Philosophy Stack Exchange.


The phrase "positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship" appears in the context of the atheistic Argument from Divine Hiddenness:

(1) Necessarily, if God exists, then God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be.
(2) Necessarily, if God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be, then, for any capable finite person S and time t, God is at t open to being in a positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship with S at t.
(3) Necessarily, if for any capable finite person S and time t, God is at t open to being in a positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship with S at t, then, for any capable finite person S and time t, it is not the case that S is at t nonresistantly in a state of nonbelief in relation to the proposition that God exists.
(4) There is at least one capable finite person S and time t such that S is or was at t nonresistantly in a state of nonbelief in relation to the proposition that God exists.


(5) So, it is not the case that God exists. (from 1 through 4)

(Source: Howard-Snyder, Daniel and Adam Green, "Hiddenness of God", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2022 Edition), Edward N. Zalta & Uri Nodelman (eds.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2022/entries/divine-hiddenness/.)

From a Christian standpoint:

  • Does the idea of a "positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship" with God align with Christian beliefs?
  • Is it a fundamental expectation, by principle or definition, for all Christians to cultivate a "positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship" with God?
  • Can the notion of a "positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship" between an individual and God be articulated in a manner that better aligns with Christian theological principles and terminology?
  • Are there specific ways in which God is expected to talk back to Christians, assuming the existence of two-way communication?
  • Similarly, are there specific ways in which God is expected to intervene in reality, assuming the existence of a two-way interactive relationship?
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    I think Christians would have to say we have a fundamentally asymmetrical relationship with God.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 5, 2023 at 4:02
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    'Expected' - by whom ? By whose 'expectation' ? The Law commands its subjects. And Jesus, also, commands, his subjects.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 5, 2023 at 8:53
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    @curiousdannii Nothing in the question says symmetrical. Reciprocal is not symmetrical.
    – kutschkem
    Dec 5, 2023 at 10:38
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    Yes, that's entirely the problem. It is all about your 'expectation' and your 'understanding'. Christianity is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the operations of the Spirit and the intentions of the Father who begets. It isn't about what humanity expects or understands.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 5, 2023 at 14:06
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    @NotThatGuy My own experience, and what I read in scripture, and what I read of men that I trust, is that all begins with God Himself. Conviction of sin, the fear of the wrath to come, the terror of death, the reality of inbred sin, the appalling fact of one's own transgressions - all prompted by the Holy Spirit of God, in conjunction with the exterior word of God : all this is God's work. Initiated by the Father. Nothing - but nothing - was initiated by my own self . . . . . not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father Galatians 1:1.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:39

2 Answers 2

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Philosophy has skipped right past the new birth. It has no choice but to do so. It is man's wisdom and the wisdom of God is foolishness in its eyes. Philosophy must ask such questions: Are all Christians expected to have a "positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship" with God?, because, through philosophy, it cannot be Known.

Being that a Christian is one who has been born again, who has gone from a state of spiritual deadness to a condition of spiritual life by the propitiatory covering of the blood of the Son of God and, being that such a one is indwelt by the very Spirit of the living God from that moment on, I would say that the answer is "of course, if God exists and the Gospel is true".

There are those who have actually received Him, actually been forgiven, actually been given the Holy Spirit (whereby they cry "Abba"), actually been predestined to conformity to Christ, actually been given eternal life. They struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil and yet they are able to say:

for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. - 2 Timothy 1:12b

Not only do they know about Him but they know Him; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christianity is a positively meaningful conscious relationship with God. Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. - 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

The question asks after a "positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship" with God. Looking at a definition of reciprocal I would say the word should be understood in the first sense only and never intimating equality:

  1. given, felt, or done in return.
  2. (of an agreement or obligation) bearing on or binding each of two parties equally.

A Christian is, both individually and corporately, the temple of the living God wherein He dwells ... actually. A Christian is possessed of the power to become a child of God and God will complete the good work that He began in them. Of course there is a positively meaningful conscious relationship.

As for reciprocal, well, He is God and we are not.


Two additional bullet points were added: How is God expected to talk back? and How is God expected to intervene in reality? I will briefly respond to the second as "God talking back" surely represents an intervention into reality since creation itself is considered as speech.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; - Hebrews 1:1-3

I would not wish to put God in a box as to the manner of God's intervention in the life of a person, that is the bailiwick of denominations and theological schools. Just as Jesus, while on earth, never contradicted what had been written but rather illuminated it unto men, so anything communicated personally by God through the Spirit will never contradict what has been written. If the Old Testament testifies of Jesus (John 5:39) and the New Testament is His revelation then any further intervention/communication will be in harmony with what has been written about Christ and point to Him..

Many antichrists are in the world pointing here and there and not every spirit is from God. There are many who espouse secret knowledge and special revelation which supersedes or corrects or interprets what has been written. Some of them are very old and some relatively new. Some point to "mysteries", relics, and special rites or visitations. The test for all is simply this:

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. - 1 John 4:2-4

And the expected outfall of this good confession that Jesus is the Son of God makes up God's ultimate intervention into reality; His love shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5).

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:7-16

 

 

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  • Philosophy is about trying to understand why we believe what we believe and what's reasonable to believe. If philosophy has "no choice" but to skip over something, that suggests that you have no reason to believe it, and we can't gain any insight into whether it's true or false (but even then, philosophy can consider whether believing such things is a good idea). And there are certainly those who feel like they received God, have been forgiven, etc., but the question is whether that's enough to warrant belief, and the objection of divine hiddenness is that it should apply to EVERY person.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 6, 2023 at 15:18
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    @NotThatGuy If God actually exists and has actually revealed himself then the means to a relationship with Him is receiving his self-revelation as he has given it and "reasoning" from there. The question is whether it is reasonable for a Christian to expect an actual relationship with a heavenly Father, not whether emotions or feelings warrant belief. Receiving the testimony of God, which is Jesus Christ, comes first. Dec 6, 2023 at 18:41
  • @MikeBorden One could interpret "expect" to mean either what theology tells us, or whether something follows logically or reasonably from some given premises. You seem to be talking about the former, but divine hiddenness (mentioned in the question) is about the latter, with the premises being the existence of an all-loving all-powerful god who wants a relationship with us. Although I get that this site is more concerned about theology than deduction.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 6, 2023 at 19:09
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    @NotThatGuy It's important to understand that, from a Christian standpoint, God is "hidden" in the sense that sin blinds humanity so that they either cannot or will not perceive Him; not that He is "hidden" by His nature but by ours. This explains the necessity of His revelations to us beyond the fact of creation (by which He is supposed to be obvious to us) and the necessity for us to have our sin remitted prior to relationship with Him. Philosophy can begin with "God is true" but it cannot arrive there ... it is the foundational Christian assumption (John 3:33). Dec 7, 2023 at 13:36
  • @MikeBorden Philosophy can analyse any reason for belief, including "foundational assumptions", and belief systems that deem themselves to be outside the realm of analysis (that, in itself, is something one should be very skeptical of). Plenty of Christians would say philosophy supports Christianity, plenty of atheists would strongly disagree.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:01
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The purpose is RECONCILIATION with God. The purpose for which the Son of God came down from heaven was precisely to reconcile humanity with Him. If this truth hasn't happened yet, something is wrong! Because He did not just come to earth, He became man to establish justice and peace between God and man. As for sin, He is the resurrection and the life, the way and the truth. Whoever believes in the Son receives garments of righteousness to practice righteousness. In this, we know who is Justified by his work through faith and trust in God and His Son, and also those who do not believe, because they do not walk in the practice of righteousness. However, we see that many did not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to practice righteousness. And they try to confuse those who received it, saying that the person will continue in sin, when in fact this is not real. God is not just love, he is also justice and truth. And the kingdom of God is the power of righteousness and the truth of God. Make no mistake, carnal human love is unbridled passion, which is why there are people getting lost thinking that lust is love. Lusts and passions only lead to the works of the flesh.

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