I thought that only Islamic culture is based on shame and honour, so I was somewhat shocked to see the the culture of my personal life share these characteristics to a good degree: it’s my western shame culture. That was an interesting observation that I recently made: my life does not feel well because I am ashamed for oh-so-many of it’s circumstances, situations and things.

Some examples:

  • My tiny chaotic flat (see image) with its “kitchen” and “special” style of nutrition … there was a time when I was proud to live that way, but that time has gone. It is indeed a problem that I cannot invite people without belieing all these social expectations.
  • My theoretical approach to life, including my blog and my opinions; there is the need to justify myself for these before practically gifted people and before those who do not share the interest in the theoretical penetration of life.
  • The jobs I do … so far away from what I have learned and from the gifts I have that I feel the need to justify myself whenever somebody asks me casually what my business is.
  • My rather low quality equipment, be it computer (six years now!!), clothing or “furniture”. Regarding clothing, I wonder whether punk people have their outward style as a mode of coping with the fact of tattered clothes. Might be … I sometimes experiment in that direction and I like it.
  • And finally … my world tour plans and the reasons for these. Again something wherefore I need to justify myself, this time before security oriented, socially integrated people.

As I that, this doesn’t feel well. I needed to get rid of being ashamed, or life will not feel well. Me thinks [sic] that I’ve found a simple solution to that: rethink if you want to be different, and if not, start to be yourself. That does work, indeed: there’s no reason why I sould be less convinced of my lifestyle than others are of theirs. So, basically it boils down to this: this is me, and this is my style, and if you cannot cope with that, that’s your  problem, not mine.

To me, being myself is something like: I am a nerd or geek (depends on defintion) and I will stay this and live this and you guys need to cope with that. What motivated me further is that I deeply respect people who live out their identity, who are themselves: my father, my mother, my brothers and my friends. And, of course, Jesus, who is probably the best example of living out one’s own identity.

Start date: 2007-11-22
Post date: 2007-12-08
Version date: 2007-12-08 (for last meaningful change)

Verliebtsein ist wie ein Anlasser. Ein Anlasser bringt den Motor zum
Laufen. Und Verliebtsein bringt die Liebe zum Laufen. Beides
funktioniert ganz prima; so fällt es Verliebten z.B. nicht schwer, sich
zu interessieren, zuzuhören, füreinander da zu sein.

Der Motor beginnt sich also zu drehen. Aber ein Anlasser ist nicht
zum Dauerbetrieb: man fährt auf Kraftstoff. Ebenso beim Verliebtsein:
es ist normal dass diese Faszination nach zwei Jahren verschwindet, und
die Liebe muss mit Kraftstoff weiterlaufen.

Was für Kraftstoff? Tiefe Freundschaft … mit aller Hilfe vom
Heiligen Geist. Freundschaft braucht Zeit und Arbeit, entsteht aber aus
dem Nichts: beim Zuhören, beim Beobachten, beim Reden, beim einander
Erkunden, beim Zeit haben, beim Helfen, beim füreinander Einstehen,
beim Reisen, beim Bibel lesen, beim Sport, bei Ehrlichkeit, bei
gemeinsamer Arbeit, beim Vergeben, beim Echtsein, bei
Konfliktbewältigung, in Gefahren, beim zusammen Beten, beim Dienen,
beim Bedientwerden, beim Bewundern, beim Bewundertwerden, … … …

Startdatum: 2007-12-04
Publikationsdatum: 2007-12-08
Versionsdatum: 2007-12-08 (für die letzte bedeutsame Änderung)

Today, some funny image happened to me when trying to improve the contrast of some digital facsimile scans for a neighbor of mine. Dear neighbor, can u guess in a comment the worksheet number where this image belongs to? And to the other guys and gals out there: what might that be? Jus’ crazy, isn’t it. Here is how I made it, with the “local adaptive threshold” option of the nice free software tool  “convert” from ImageMagick:

convert -lat 30×30+20% infile.jpg outfile.jpg

Start date: 2007-12-07
Post date: 2007-12-07
Version date: 2007-12-07 (for last meaningful change)

As far as I can see, there is much confusion when it comes to “being
called by God”, “getting a vision from God” and “serving God”. In oh so
many cases we seem to expect concrete hints and commands from God when
it comes to these. Here, an alternative approach to calls, visions,
service and plans is developed, in harmony with my general view that
God’s concrete intervention in our lifes is really the special case
[see previous article “The
third way of life in this world
“]. As usual, you’re really welcome
here to discuss these thoughts and to add your own.

Exceptional character of calls and commands

Both from personal experiences and biblical confirmation it seems to
me completely bogus to think that God regularly
contributes to
decisions and projects in our lifes. In nearly all cases, he does not,
not even to the most important! Some proof material:

  • Paul. God did not concretely interfere with
    Pauls decisions, except of the initial call to mission [Acts
    13:2 BWE
    ] and the call to
    Macedonia [Acts
    16:6-11 BWE
    ]. Paul had to do all the plans and decisions himself.
    And he
    did, and did not give up, independent of the results! He knew that he
    right, from the general will of God, not from the results.
  • Deciding whom to marry. That’s a decision with
    huge implications, yet according to Paul, a widow may marry any man she
    wants, if
    only he is a Christian [I
    Corinthians 7:39 BWE
    So God seems to guarantee no definite guidance: God wants the spouse to
    be also Christian, and that’s it.
  • Deciding if to marry. Paul viewed his state of
    singleness as God’s gift [I
    Cor 7:7 ESV
    ], yet he also spoke about his right to marry [I
    Cor 9:5 ESV
    ]. So a gift is not necessarily an obligation or a
    command from God, but rather a possibility.
  • The great many without concrete callings. It seems that
    nearly all peple in NT
    times never experienced concrete calls and commands from God. Rather,
    they lived as they saw fit, within the
    general, timeless will of God. Some examples:
    • Luke. He travelled with Paul at times, and even wrote
      two bible books, seemingly without a concrete command from God to do so
      1:1-4 BWE
    • Priscilla and Aquila. They took Paul in and worked
      together with him in their business [Acts
      18:2-3 BWE
      ], travelled with Paul for some time [Acts
      18:18 BWE
      ] teached Apollos when necessary [Acts
      18:26 BWE
      ]. Bible does not mention concrete calls and commands from
      God, and they did not need: they just did what seemed appropriate and
      good to them.
    • Timothy. Initially, he was not called by God. Instead, he
      started to travel and serve with Paul because Paul met him by
      chance, and wanted him to accompany him [Acts
      16:1-3 BWE

Basically, it seems that God wants people most of the time to care
about their lifes and decisions themselves, without immediate
calls and commands from God. We make God too small when we think his
main business is caring for
our everyday life; instead, that’s our business, while God offers
forgiveness, eternal life, truth and character transformation. Which
helps us also in everyday life, but as mediate, general gifts.

Of course, the Bible is filled with stories about God’s concrete
deeds. This can lead to the expectation that our life will be willed
with these, too. But one should see that the Bible probably collects
some extraordinary events from many thousand years and many thousand
people, so that it’s content is not representative for one
day of one person.

Even in the global view, it is no problem if calls and commands are
just the extraordinary case. For each person that would mean God did
not plan what concrete good works a person should do; compare
2:10 ESV
and Eph
2:10 BWE
for the difference. Instead, people shall think about good
works themselves and choose them. And globally that would mean that
every important good work gets done, by the statistical distribution
that’s implied when 200+ million Christians do something
good. Furthermore,
this world has so much more problems than Christians have capacity to
good: therefore it is also unimportant, to some extent, which good
works remain un-done, i.e. how resources are distributed to needs.

Implications of this understanding on daily life

  • Do not calculate God’s intentions from what happens. If
    one tries to determine the concrete plans of God with one’s personal
    life from what happens, one will nearly never hit God’s ideas. Of cause
    it is always correct to infer that God wants to sanctify me … that
    conclusiuon is justified even independent of my circumstances. But
    whether or not God wants me to go into mission, buy this or that, leave
    one church or join another, follow this or that strategy in church etc.
    can hardly be determined from
    circumstances in the sense of a concrete call or command. Instead, one
    can collect wisdom from the Bible,
    experiences and hints from fellow Christians etc., and use that as the
    basis for such decisions. We should not call that a direct call or
    command from God, but perhaps “wisdom”.
  • Just act rightly. God just wants us to do right
    permanently, and that’s all he wants when we have no concrete call.
    That is, act rightly also in difficult times and also if nothing
    changes to
    the better.
  • Sermons as a human activity. People choose the texts,
    people preach what they found out about these texts. Sermons are not
    filled with immediate words from God, spoken to a concrete church at a
    concrete time. Iinstead, sermons are a repetition of what God revealed
    to be general, unchanging truth.
  • Visions. Just as sermons, visions are human, in nearly
    all instances. Human visions are justified if compatible with the
    general will of God. Take Nehemia for an example: in his view, he yould
    not trace his vision back to a divine origin [Neh
    1:1-4 ESV
    ; 2,5
    ]. Somebody who serves God should therefore not think that God
    placed exactly him in exactly that position, except if a real, direct
    call is implied.
  • Open doors. If it is true that concrete calls and
    commands are the exceptional case, our conception of “open” and “closed
    doors” should be re-thought. Perhaps, open doors are mostly a natural
    phenomenon of life, someting like accidental entropy decrease. This can
    be checked by looking for open-door experiences in the lifes of
  • Being led in the job? God wants to care for our basic
    material needs [Mt
    6:31-33 BWE
    ]. However, to think that God helps people in a rich
    western culture to find a good job would imply that he does not help
    the African people to find equally good jobs. Which would be unjust,
    and therefore cannot be.
  • What is walking by the spirit? You do not need to keep
    some “free space” in your life and keep
    listening to the Holy Spirit (in order to hear concrete commands).
    Instead, living out what God showed you about holiness by his general
    truth in the Bible already is living with the Holy Spirit.
    There is not necessarily a further, more concrete callin in your life.

Dealing with success

Some people claim that God gave the “responsibility” to build his
kingdom to us human beings. The view on calls and commands as shown
above implies the same when it comes to human initiative: yes, God
wants our initiative. Responsibility however also implies that we must
fulfill our duty, i.e. we have the responsibility to succeed.

I do not share this view. If God would guarantee the possibility to
succeed, it would be justified to think that he expects us to succeed
also. However, God does not guarantee this possibility: concrete calls
and commands (which could imply such guarantee) are not the regular
case, and it seems to me also that most events on this planet are not
within a “globally coordinated plan” of almight, transcendent God; as,
life is characterized by a free, self-controlled state, not by being
part of a big machinery. (But that’s my opinion, you don’t need to
share this.)

This opinion seems to get support from my observations: in many
cases, success depends on external circumstances that we cannot affect.
Success does not depend on ourselves or God, but on “the situation”,
including the reactions of the people whom we serve. Whereever our
plans succeed it is because we
happened to be in a behavior setting that favored our plans. (A
behavior setting is a set of outer circumstances that favor some
behavior; for a good overview of the theory, see [dissertation of Uta
] (German), pp. 19-50). Even Paul hat not success in
everything he did. Cf. also an insight of Solomon: 

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor
the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the
intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance
happen to them all.” [Ecc
9:11 ESV

To sum this up: this view of initiative and success is, basically, a
conception of “free will” without the implication that humans have the
responsibility to “do right” / to succeed. So this is a conception of
free will that does not capture men into the bondage of heavy

What should be the practical implications of this view?

  • Take the pink glasss down. It might be that we have only
    contact with “successful” Christians. This will make us think that all
    Christians are successful, because God would guarantee this. However,
    there are also unsuccessful Christians out there. For biblical examples
    cf. [Heb
    11:35-38 BWE
  • You can serve God in freedom. If success is not our
    duty, serving God is really an enjoyable activity. Because we can enjoy
    the fact that God does not judge ur work by its effect or sucess.
    Instead, a totally effectless work gets just the same friendly
    from God as a successful work, if both share the same holy motivation
    and moral quality behind it.
  • Don’t blame God. If God’s concrete interaction with our
    lifes is the rare case, he is not to blame for bad situations in
    personal life and in the life of churches. These are not due to God’s
    concrete intentions / interventions, but rather a product of human
    activity and chance. As chance is involved, bad situations are also not
    one’s own fault only; therefore it is not generally justified to doubt
    one’s gifts and abilities in these situations.
  • Take yourage and fight through. Nehemia had a troubled
    time when following his vision to re-build the wall of Jerusalem [Neh
    4:1-23 ESV
    ]. Success is not the natural companion of good works; so
    if we have a troubled time, we need not think that our work is not good
    or even against the will of God. It*s just that God does not always
    support us to the utmost when we do his will, so that things work
    really smooth. Nehemia had
    the courage to fight his way through in a hostile world. As he did, we
    should do.

Hidden coordination

Currently, it deems on me that things might not be that simple as
put in this article. There might be concrete intervention from God,
resulting in some open and some closed doors and some success, but this
intervention might be hidden. One example might be Nehemia, whom I
mentioned so often in this article. By re-building Jerusalem’s wall, he
fulfilled a part of a prophecy given to Daniel [Dan
9:25 ESV
]. It is not mentioned however that he knew this;
nonetheless, God just integrated his actions into fulfilling prophecy.
The prophecy given to Daniel did not say that Nehemia would succeed, it
even mentions that Jerusalem will be re-built “in a troubled time” [Dan
9:25 ESV
]. Which could’ve meant that Nehemia would only have half
success, and the wall would be finished by somebody different. So, yes,
it is possible that human acitivity is integrated in a great, hidden
plan of God, but this cannot justify the fundamentalist idea that
“nobody can stop me because God Almighty is directly behind me and will
make me succeed”.

Another example for God’s hidden coordnation cold be prophecy in the
sermon, where the preacher unconsciously hits to the point what a
person needs.

In a nutshell

Christian living is more about the how, not about the what.
Keep close to Jesus, walk by the Spirit, and for the
rest you’re free and under the favor of God. View your actions as
essentially human activity in obedience to God’s general will, except
where God’s immediate instructions surprise you.

put it thus: “Dilige, et quod vis fac”. Which is: “Love [God] and then
what you will, do.” The full quotation is actually this:

Once for all, then, a short precept is given you: Love, and do
what you will: whether you hold your peace, through love hold your
peace; whether you cry out, through love cry out; whether you correct,
through love correct; whether you spare, through love do you spare: let
the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is

Ioannis ad Parthos, Homily VII on the First Epistle of John, 8

Start date: 2007-11-18
Post date: 2007-12-03
Version date: 2007-12-03 (for last meaningful change)

Sanctification is when God educates us to better resemble his holy
character. What conception can we have of how God does this? One
possibility would be to think that all-knowing, almighty, transcendent
God has a plan of 1000+ steps for each individual’s character
transformation, and executes it step by step. There would be a big heap
of mutual dependencies between people, as God would use other people in
many cases for an individuals’s education. So this would result in an
awfully compley full linear upfront project decomposition, only
possible for the almighty. But is sanctification really that way?

The other extreme would be to think that God simply exposes
individuals to the truth. And everytime the truth touches somebody, it
changes something or removes some dirt from his life. It would not be
important in what order things are changed or the dirt is removed. I
favor this alternative, and I would compare it to a brush: everytime
the brush is moved over dirty clothing, the clothing is touched and
some of the dirt is removed. It is totally of no interest in what order
the dirt grains are removed, but that everything’s clean in the end.

How about a real world analogy? A friend of mine is a gifted special
school teacher (in preparation service), and some days ago we discussed
a project she introduced in her math class. She calls it the “Zählwerk”
(that’s “mechanical counter”, but actually the name of a depicted
house, so better “counting station”). Regarding the concept, she
explained to me that the pupils work through a set of worksheets,
independently, and that they should train work practices while doing
that. For example, to deal correctly with sorting work sheet templates
away, handling reference material like a math lexicons, giving mutual
support when difficulties arise, etc.. I’d like to see that as a good
example for, say, “brush-style education”: it’s not about executing
steps, but about training in good practices, again and again and again.
You may see from her nice example that “brush-style education” has no
regard for any “order of steps” for learning the work practices,
rather, many things are taught in parallel. Interesting enough,
teachers are generally held to have a set goals for each individual
lesson, and a set of goals to reach these goals. But bush-style
education is so much simpler, and, I think, more effective.

Start date: 2007-10-01
Post date: 2007-12-02
Version date: 2007-12-02 (for last meaningful change)

Today, 2007-11-30 at about 10:30, my chef and friend called me and
told me we’re both losing our current job at 2007-12-31. Basically,
that’s cool … not just that I really dislike this job. Times of
changes are
times where new and good things can arise. And even better, risky times
have the latent possibility that one might experience God immediately:
how he cares about me personally, and supplies for me personally, as I
need this.

It’s no box of chocolates, though. I thought about the bad things
that might happen … having no money at all, for example. So this post
is to remind me how to behave when this time is come:

(31) ‘So then, do not keep asking, “What shall we eat?” “What
shall we drink?” and “What shall we wear?” (32) It is the people who do
not believe in God who work for all these things. Your Father in heaven
knows that you need them all. (33) ‘Work first for God’s kingdom and
what he calls good. Then you will have all these things also. (34) ‘So
do not be troubling yourself about tomorrow. Tomorrow will have its own
trouble. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’ [Matthew
6:31-34 BWE

But what is to “work for God’s kingdom and what he calls good”? I
think that Paul talks baout exactly this when he says that God’s
kingdom is about something different than eating and drinking:

“(17) The kingdom of God is not about what a person eats and
drinks. But it is about living in a way which is right with God. It is
peace. It is joy because a person has the Holy Spirit. (18) A person
who does the work of Christ in this way pleases God. And people like
him. (19) But we must do the things that make peace and that help each
other to do better.” [Romans
14:17-19 BWE

That’s interesting: to work for God’s kingdom is not to serve in
your church. But it is to care about living out righteousness, peace
and joy! It’s about doing exactly the
things you do now, but in God’s quality. It’s about caring how you work
(the moral quality), not about the result of your work (the money).
Money is God’s business.

Start date: 2007-11-30
Post date: 2007-11-30
Version date: 2007-11-30 (for last meaningful change)

It seems to me that today, radical believers are not sober (“not
that interested in truth”), while sober believers are not radical
(“without effect”). But faith must be both, to have the right
effect. Also, only sober and radical faith will lead to
“life”, where this means a justified, appropriate and
adventurous, interesting dealing with one’s own existence.

So, can faith be sober and radical at the same time? In my personal
experience, demystifying
my faith
led to a sober but lifeless faith, as many believed
immediate experiences with God turn out to be fake. Such faith is not
radical any more. But now it seems to me that there is a sober,
justifiable and radical, practical, lively faith, and that
I’m coming in proximity to it. I will trace here the steps how such
faith emerges
from what is accessible to human perception. (I don’t view emergence as
something that arises out of its own, but as an attribute of planned
systems which have self-development capabilities planned in. So, man’s
way to God is not his own way, but following the path that God prepared
for this.)

(1) From nothing to knowing about God’s existence

I know about evolution and the proposed proofs for it, and it seems
to me obvious that there must be a creator god. Because I
found no persuading proof of any complexity-generating mechanism in
dumb matter, and whenever I read biology-related stuff I marvel at the
awful complexity of life again. So the principal alternatives to me are
theism and deism (or, natural theology),
and this persuasion seems justified and even scientifically valid to me.

Another thing to learn from nature is: in sight of the creator God’s
might and greatness, it is impossible for humans to “serve” God. God
might expect people to act morally, but if they don’t there is no way
for humans to “repair” that, as humans cannot bring anything to God
that he needs, Therefore, if justification is necessary, it can only be
by grace alone.

This is what can be learned from observing nature, but there might
be more truth regarding God. For example, nature and nature science
does provide no hint that there is resurrection, but it also
does not proove the opposite. Therefore, one now has to think how to
justifiedly aquire additional knowledge to move from natural to
revealed religion.

(2) From knowing about God’s existence to knowing God by experience

The world is full of surprises. Until now, I thought that refusing
to justify one’s faith by arguments is a small-scale, personal
phenomenon, based either in personality type or folk religion. But I
just read that it is a well-known and wide-spread theological concept,
even in Christianity!! The concept is called fideism.

“Fideism is the view that religious belief depends on faith or
revelation, rather than reason, intellect or natural theology. The word
fideism comes from fides, the Latin word for faith, and literally means
faith-ism.” [Wikipedia
on fideism

The above cited article also shows that fideism is connected to
Luther, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard and Pascal. It’s good to have words
now for what I want to say: my faith in God and Jesus is no fideism,
but instead connected to evidentialism
and reliablilism.
I see “faith” as the opposite of works (Romans
3:28 ESV
), not of reason! My esteem for reason rests upon a very
basic observation: a human being comes into the world with an “empty
brain”, that is, everything whithin the brain (including knowledge) can
only be made up from what entered through the senses. This is
a purely experience-oriented perspective: aquiring knowledge about the
outer world is
to make sense of one’s senses. (If this view or fideism is correct
depends on the structure of reality: if reality is one continuum,
including spiritual and material reality, fideism cannot be the
to spiritual truth as it is not to truth about the material world; but
if there is a separation into two disjoint parts, the case is
different. Until now, I assume the former, as I have no hint to a
separation, and the Bible accounts for God making himself
experienceable in the material world also indicates that reality is one
big continuum.)

Information about history and God also enters through our senses, in
form of documents and artefacts. And one has to make sense of it, by
testing the reliability of the sources etc.. If any revealed religion
is true, therefore, there must be also a justified way to acquire
knowledge about this truth, i.e. to make sense of what can be perceived
from it. This calls for God to be experienced within this world, or
believing anything apart from natural religion could not be justified.
Happily, this is the case for Christianity: the Bible claims that God
was experienced on various occasions. For example, that Jesus
resurrected, proving his divinity that way.

There is also a justified Christian belief before knowing reliable
miracles: if any thing that gives hope is true, than it is the gospel
about Jesus the Christ – because Christianity adheres to justification
from grace alone (which follows
from natural theology, see above), and because Christianity is founded
in history
so that a historic proof can be sought after. This kind of faith cannot
be overthrown, and it provides for relaxedness even when one does not
yet know the proving facts that one expects to be there.

Now how to gather the knowledge that justifies believing in the god
of Christianity, if there is such knowledge? The proposal
would be: by making sense of the experiences of people who claim to
have had immediate encounters
with God. This would
use both biblical accounts and contemporary accounts (upcoming “Second
” project), as from a big continuum. That way, no special
mystical role as “holy writings” is attributed to the Bible.

One cannot understate the importance of history (experiences
of men with God) as the basis to believe. Because everything else could
for mere psychological reasons, including the effects of grace. Grace
“works”, but such pragmatic
does not make a believe true. But truth is important
for the afterlife: is there an afterlife, or not. Experiencing the
“hard reality” of God cannot be explained away, while inner-psychic
motions can. Therefore it is of such value that Christianity includes a
wealth of claimed experiences with the “hard reality of God” (esp. in
the Bible), which can be checked and hopefully result in the
persuasion that God is real and not a mere concept. In Christianity,
even the central message is inseparable from history: the gospel, in
the context of Mk.16,15
, is pimarily the message that was at hand there: the good
news that Jesus rose from the dead!!!

Now one might find it difficult to know what God or Gods
(of perhaps many ones) is behind each experience, i.e. to make sense of
experiences with invisible reality. Some thoughts: different religions
report different experiences, and from this difference it should
hopefully be clear that the God of Christianity is the only omnipotent
God (who
must therefore be the creator god, if any known God is). This God made
himself identifyable by dealing with the Jews only, for al long time:
he can be identified as “the God of the Jews”. Today, the name “Jesus
Christ”, identifying the son of this God, makes the connection to this
God; so one can expect that prayers in the name of Jesus Christ
have a different effect than those without, and this can be checked.

But is it really that complicated to come to a justified belief in
God? No way. Me thinks this is just the thinkers’ way, while there are
other approaches to the truth about God for other types of people. The
thinkers’ way is hard, with many dangers, and it is a pure gift to
arrive at the truth about God this way (see 1Cor
1:18-26 ESV
). This is just for people who don’t accept axioms, not
even the intuitively acceptable idea that a human being is an entity
that was intended to be an entity. Approaches with such axioms are also
possible, I think, but only because God provided circumstances so that
he can be found these ways. For example, a humble heart that’s
conscious about its guilt, combined with fideism, also arrives at the
faith in Jesus when being told about his grace. Therefore, due to this
epistemically correct result, fideism should not be criticized on all
occasions in Christianity.

(3) From knowing God by experience to radical faith

We are now at the point where there is (hopefully) enough evidence
to justify believing what the Bible says about God. That is, this God
is real, not a mere concept. And this statement holds true even if one
does not have immediate contact to God. Therefore, a radical faith in
this God is justified even if one does not experience God personally.
might be people who never experience God supernaturally themselves (for
example those in Hebrews
11:35-40 ESV
), but have good reason to believe from the reports
of others.

This is really an interesting finding: radical faith can be
justified even without personal, immediate encounters with God. Such
“radical but distance-accepting” faith is quite beautiful as it
answers both the desire for fervent radicality and truth (in the sense
of demystified faith, which emphasizes that there is a distance).

Oh, I forgot: what is radical faith, actually? I would define, it is
to deal with God in the same quality as if he’d be visible or otherwise
immediately accessible. This seems to be a very basic aspect of faith,
as it is said about faithful Moses that he “endured as [if] seeing him
who is invisible”
11:27 ESV
). The definition says “in the same quality”, not with the
same actions: so radical faith does not mean
to act if God would be present as a person in space and time, just
invisible, as this would lead to mystical stuff such as “feeling the
presence of God”. Radical faith accepts this distance, but is
nonetheless radical in obedience and consequence. Paul might be seen as
an example of a radical believer: his faith in Christ and the
resurrection rests on the reorted experiences of the other apostles and
his own (but past) experience of Christ, yet he emits such radical
statements as “O death, where is your victory?” [1Cor
15:1-58 ESV

Such consequent obedience means to risk something by behaving
according to
the example of Jesus and other biblical characters. For example, to
risk job,
friendships, relationships and stuff. And exactly this, taking
justified risks, is the enabler of life (where “life” means something
interesting, adventurous). And in the long run, taking risks instead of
living in a luke-warm state is very rewarding: one finds a hundredfold
of what one lost, even on earth, just as Jesus
promised (see Mark
10:28-30 ESV

People who do not believe don’t risk anything: it is an observation
that people who view the visible reality as the most important one seek
a secure place in it and won’t risk that for anything. But people who
believe in a higher, worthier reality might risk their current security
for that. Because beliefs are such a string force, it is very important
to hold the true belief. Believing lies also motivates to radical life,
but dependent on lie’s content it might result in the radical life of
jihad warriors.

(4) From radical faith to repentance

When taking Jesus seriously, one has to take seriously what he says
about sin and forgiveness, and then, to repent. This is difficult as it
implies to humble oneself, but the lack of radicality and consequence
in this point can withhold people from following Jesus at all, even if
seeing his miracles first-hand (e.g. John
7:3-5 ESV

The problem of guilt is in fact even the primary thing that drives
people to Jesus, not historic evidence, which is then added afterwards,
if at all. In this sense, these “steps to sober and radical faith” are
idealized to conform to logic, not to reality. Only intellectual people
have these additional problems which force them to seek for historical
evidence … .

(5) From repentance to love

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for
loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” [Luke
7:47 ESV

Love flows from being forgiven. Radicality cannot be an activity,
but must be motivated by love towards God – else it will run dry in the
long run.

(6) From love to radical practice

We are now at the point of radical faith, which wants to put itself
into action. This seems at first glance a very difficult thing: What
radical steps are justifiable from a belief where concrete, immediate
commandments from God occur rarely? How
to live with Jesus in daily life, if it cannot be an immediate
relationship on average? That is: what do you do to live out your faith
and experience faith if you cannot expect your God to interact with
your life on a daily basis (but only on surprising, special occasions).

But, the interesting thing is: radical obedience to mediate
commandments is also possible. Mediate commandments are, for example:
the timeless, general truths of the Bible; and especially the example
of Jesus. The previous article “Way
to truth and life, fifth start
” contained some rather general ideas
for a practical and lively, radical faith. Thoughts have gone further
somewhat, so here are more concrete ideas what actions and activities
fit for a faith which is sober and radical at the same time:

  • Take it for serious. Radical faith means, perhaps first
    of all, to take radically serious what one believes. So that it affects
    one’s life and decisions in a consequent way. This makes other people
    recognize that one really takes this to be the truth, and they will
    hopefully check for themselves if one’s beliefs are a mere concept or
    truth indeed.
  • Take risks. Risk something by behaving
    according to truth, which you can learn from the example of Jesus and
    other biblical figures. One example: if a friend needs a rebuke, rebuke
    him (or her). If it deems
    on you that smalltalk is not appropriate for a particular situation,
    move to more risky and effective topics. The opposite of taking risks
    is to live a totally adapted life. But how to find a situation to risk
    something when
    everyday life is filled with just recurring everyday activity? This is
    not really a problem: every day grants at least one possibility,
    and every possibility can set off an avalanche of new possibilities if
    one takes it.
  • Love one another. “If this has been done, enough has
    been done” (Apostle John, according to a tradition). Love is something
    very radical and very practical. It includes “filling the day with
    people”, as mentioned in “Way
    to truth and life, fifth start
  • Thank God for creating a world which provides plenty of food.
    If you thank God for a meal, that’s what you can thank God for. You
    cannot thank God for coordinating that exactly this meal is on your
    table, as this is a mystical belief that lets the problem arise why God
    does not do the same for all the starving people. But when we start to
    see that God created a good world without the necessity of famine, and
    that famine is purely man’s work, this problem does not arise.
  • Read the Bible as if truth-sunbathing. What view on the
    Bible is both sober and radical? For example, this: when reading the
    Bible, that’s because you seek and enjoy the long-term
    effects of being exposed to truth, and you do not search an immediate
    encounter with God. With this view, you doesn’t expect each single
    Bible time to give you concrete directions for your life, and would
    even accept if your decision couldn’t be traced back to “what God said”
    in concrete Bible times, but only to Bible truth in general.
  • Seek mediate guidance. When you seek to be led by Jesus,
    seek the timeless, general truth offered in the Bible, and not an
    immediate encounter with Jesus (which is possible nonetheless). The
    timeless, general truth is enough for nearly all cases: only if we obey
    it consequently and still lack wisdom how to live this life, there is
    reason to seek God’s immediate action.

These tips are in one word: obey. Humble yourself, pray etc., as you
see appropriate in your situation, judged by timeless, general truth.
Such a life generates a lot of positive effects that we like to call
“experiences with God” now: for example, honesty and authenticity have
loads of positive
effects, but are nothing more than human behavior, in obedience to
Jesus’ example.

(7) And perhaps: experiencing God personally and immediately

What is new to me personally here is the idea of a radical
life, founded in timeless truth, not immediate commandments. That has
to say something on the role of miracles and personal experiences.

First of all, miracles are not that necessary. They were never
intended from God
“just help” people, but to show his character and divinity. For this
purpose, some miracles
are enough, and most of them can be history. God wants to help people
not by miracles, but by transformed people: the
practical problems of this world will inevitably go away when people
start to live according to the example of Jesus. One historical example
for this is the worldwide example of abolishing slavery.

The basis of faith is not the personal experience of miracles (while
these are nice to have and they support faith), but instead faith rests
on the fact that
such experiences have been there in other people’s lifes. This is quite
relaxing, as faith may stay sober: no mystical stuff
has to be introduced to fake miracles in one’s personal life.

Now, this should not lead people to mistrust “by default” own or
other’s proposed immediate experiences with God. There are
immediate encounters with God (including
supernatural answers to prayer, impressions from the Spirit, gifts of
the Spirit). Just, it seems that one cannot provoke
them to occur in one’s own life (it did not work for those in Hebrews
11:35-40 ESV
, e.g.). They just happen.

One additional thought: there are cases where the Bible claims that
God is at work immediately, while it seems to be normal natural life to
men. For example, the Father draws people or they cannot come
to Christ; or, the mind of Christians is able to intend positive stuff
because of the Spirit. It is not clear how to detect God’s intervention
here from a sober, scientific point of view, but it is not that
important, either: the effectshould be attributed to God, but these
cases cannot serve as the basis of faith as they looks like
natural human life outwardly.

Summing up

“[W]hoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in
which he walked.” [I
John 2:6 ESV

Really believing in Jesus is taking him that serious that one starts
to live according to his example, and starts to learn his radicality.
Which makes this article to be nothing more than a fervent appeal to
start living after the
example of Jesus again: open, honest, humble, loving, radical,
fearless. We might have started this once, and got frustrated because
God did not answer as immediately as we expected. This should not
frustrate any more: there is this distance between creator and
creature, but recognizing the truth about God and living radically
according to it is possible nonetheless.

Start date: 2007-11-25
Post date: 2007-11-28
Version date: 2007-11-28 (for last meaningful change)