Monday, May 27, 2019

An impersonal relationship with God?

What exactly is a "personal relationship" with God?

Lots of (mostly evangelical) Christians claim to have one, but I've rarely heard anyone actually explaining what they mean by the phrase.

In life, I have professional relationships with some people and personal relationships with others. I guess the main thing that defines the personal relationships is that I see those people socially. We do things together. We see each other, even when we don't need to see each other. We have shared experiences. Probably they know things about me that other people don't know, and I know things about them that other people don't know.

Is that how it is with God? Do individual Christians know things about God that only they know, and other Christians do not? Are Christians with a personal relationship with God able to express his preferences on various issues?

If you have a personal relationship with God, could you tell me which Star Trek movie is his favourite? Or does he have a favourite character in Game of Thrones, and who is it? Does he prefer rap music to metal? Which is his favourite Spice Girl? Indeed, what is his favourite colour?

I could have a good go at giving answers to each of those for people I have personal relationships with. If you can't come up with answers to that sort of question for God, do you really have a personal relationship with him? Do you actually interact with God, socially? Or is it just a phrase that you use?

I suspect, for many Christians, what they actually have is an impersonal relationship, if it's even a relationship at all. Following a set of guidelines is not a relationship, even if you get an 'inner stirring' while doing so.

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