The personal meeting with God

Louvain-la-neuve, spring 2003. One day I met in the street two Mormons in their mission. I decided to start the conversation with them fifteen minutes, as an occasion to express myself, to share my experience and my convictions to them, without hope that they can bring any useful spiritual assistance to me. That was almost a year ago I had left the evangelic churches, disappointed to have sought God for such a long time in vain, to have believed there, even to have been so very enthusiastic for one period, to have given my life to God with all my heart hundreds of times without never Him take it up, not to have found finally in the Christianity any solution to my problems, to have noted that a good share of their teaching was false, and that God was not here to help me or to support me spiritually, morally or practically nor to inspire any of the words or understanding of other Christians and pastors to whom I asked for help (among the many independent churches I could visit). In short, I had the strong feeling to be vulgarly betrayed by God through the Church, the Gospel and the Christian doctrine that pretend to represent Him.

Was this one or both of these Mormons, I do not remember, but his speech and way of being radiated with a fantastic serenity. A peace of God who transcends all that a man can dream or try to build, and that nothing in the world will ever be able to disturb. However, I did not leave him the time of speech easily, estimating that I had already received too many lessons of religious morality in my life and that it was time that I express finally what I had on the heart; he also did what he could to draw the speech on his side and to expose me his solution (more especially as he did not have much time), namely of course, to become Mormon. However, what a foolish, negative and ungrateful attidude towards God I had there: me who was in the shit spiritually, having vainly sought God and not having found Him; in front of somebody having obviously found Him and offering me the solution, I refused clearly, because of my experience. He said me something like this :
"- Are you ready to give up your revolt finally and to make the effort, this evening, to give yourself to God, to pray Him with all your heart while asking Him that He appears to you and you show you the way, awaiting Him for an answer sincerely?
- That, I did it an overwhelming quantity of times when I was evangelic, with all my heart... in vain.
- But we are not evangelic! We are Mormons! You should not make the confusion. This, you did not test it yet."

Admittedly, the argument was theoretically imparable. However I did not accept it.
As he did not have any more time and was to leave, I say to him to conclude: "I envy your serenity. But I cannot reach it, and it is not my fault ".

What can this adventure mean for me?

First, why doesn't his serenity prove that his religion is the true one and would solve my problems?
It is simple: that only shows, in the set of human beings, the existence of an element having two properties. From this existence one cannot deduce that a chosen one of these properties is the cause of the other so that for any other element of the set, the realization one of the these properties will induce the realization of the other.

Then, this reminds me too much the so classical and hyper worn advertising method consisting in showing somebody in super form consuming such product, to suggest that the consumption of this product would also give us their magnificence. But in fact, it is not exactly that either. In a sense, it is not that the argument missed weight. On the contrary. It was a too beautiful argument. It was one proof too much. When thus the same argument can be used to show as well, according to the circumstances, two mutually incompatible proposals, this means in fact that it does not prove anything at all.

You still do not grasp ?

Then I explain you: The small history that it is usually told us, therefore, it is that, each Christian, one fine day, gets converted, spreads his heart in front of God and receives His grace, a kind of illumination, that is also called new birth, baptism in the Holy Spirit, a meeting with Christ, or what the heck, in short, some supernatural spiritual experiment. That, I asked for it many times of all my heart and never received it. I heard a good number of Christians say that they had received it. When I asked for explanations, it is not rare that one answers me something like: first, that is not given to all, because it is the work of the Holy Spirit, who owes us nothing. Then, all do not need it inevitably, because the faith is enough. The work of the Holy Spirit, it is initially the miracle of the faith. If you have the faith, it means that the Holy Spirit already worked in you; that can be sufficient without requiring for another thing, and the new birth took place without one being councious of it, it occurred in the secrecy of the Spirit even if it is not expressed yet explicitly. However, I had indeed the faith, an enthusiastic faith.

But it is not only possible interpretation among the Christians. There is another one, which is often heard. It expresses approximately a certain biblical passage saying that God is not distant but that our sins put a barrier between us and God. That for saying that God wants to meet us and that thus if that does not happen, it is because we really do not want it or we are unpleasant sinners unworthy of Him, lacking faith and not leaving Him the place necessary in our life. That points recalls me the methods of the Enquiry: to prove the guilt or sorcery of somebody, we asks him to acknowledge. If he does not acknowledge, that makes him still guiltier not to acknowledge. Then, we subject him to torture until he acknowledges. If he still does not acknowledge, it is that he was not enough tortured yet and he is necessary to continue even more, until he acknowledges. If he dies of it, it is his fault, he deserved it because he should have acknowledged.
The difference here it is that it is a moral torture to inflict to ourselves. However, in front of such a demonstration of destroying self-scourging, how God thus taken in hostage of the risk to embody the attitude of a cruel divine silence in front of such a holy zeal, would not have pity and would not come and bring to the person a little comfort? Unless it is the simple natural intuition of confidence in God and the insurance of the personal salvation which emerges when the mind relaxes after this anxiety and battle of the thoughts, when the fear of perdition is dissipated in contrast with the inculcated theory of the sin and the perdition, and its artificially supposed naturally unavoidable sentiment of guilt which was devouring us. So, this looks like a miracle.
When then one emerges from this state of grace and that one seeks to give it a theoretical interpretation, one needs to find out an explanation. This wonderful experience of peace with its fantastic contradiction with the doctrine of sin that we supposedly could not get rid of, would seem absurd if we did not learn from it the lesson of the truth to be believed and of a way to be followed.

Why ? Because of the doctrine of salvation by faith and the legitimate need to find answers to our existential questions. Without a truth or any other doctrines to put in our heads to know where to go and what to think, we would consider ourselves as lost, and the doctrine insists that without the Truth we are lost. However we are not lost, we have just made the demonstration of it. We even have just reached the miracle of salvation. Therefore, the doctrines which brought us up to now are the Truth, Which Was To Prove.

And then, one can wonder: if the meeting with God, the revelation of the Holy Spirit, is a clear enough revelation to be a confirmation by the Holy Spirit of the veracity of the Bible in its details, to give us the divine certitude that the Truth is there, why the hell could not this revelation also give us the lighting on these details themselves so that one would no more need to read the Bible materially to know its content ? Else, how can we say that this revelation precisely agrees with the contents of this Bible ? In other words, if after the meeting with God we were given to study another Bible carefully conceived to be present itself as a Word of God, what could ever tell us the difference ?

In conclusion: the conversion, possibly accompanied by what appears as a more or less major personal meeting with God, whatever its real or illusory depth but bearing nevertheless the merit to constitute a gushing of enthusiasm and goodwill from a vaster point of view than the personal daily life, can be a marvellous spiritual experiment. Never think I would say the opposite.

It is just of a much too vital and wonderful value and importance for not ensuring that it will not be taken in hostage by any perverse ideology such as the Gospel.

Translated from French

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