Personally, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the saviour of
mankind. But while I believe this, it feels distant: I cannot associate
contemporary, concrete confirmation to this belief. These words “Jesus
is the Christ” are a theory for me, and I don’t know how to apply it
and live it out. Sure, I may live out moral advice from the Bible, but
that says nothing about my faith’s truth content, so does not remove
the distance. To me, believing in Jesus as the Christ would be much
easier to “do” when living in the first century: Jesus had lived only
some decades ago, I could meet and ask eye witnesses about him,
experience the miracles of the Apostles etc.. It was more direct then,
without this distance. Believing would’ve been no problem: the
justification for my faith would lay at hand, contrary to the situation
in these days.

What creates this distance?

In general, everything that was added to the life and original
message of Jesus increased the distance to him. Christian faith is
direct only when it is about Jesus and Jesus alone. The added stuff
that introduced the distance includes:

  • Time. Living 2000 years
    later is distance for sure. Time does not reduce truth, but visibility
    of truth and hence, directness. No eye witnesses are left, large
    amounts of doubts have been heaped, large numbers of Christian sects
    were founded and other confusing stuff happened.
  • Unexperienced content and
    bookishness.
    Knowing about something (and believing this
    knowledge to be the truth) is hard if I know this just from books and
    cannot or did not try it out myself. Nuclear physics is an example for
    that, and the Christian faith is another (at times).
  • Formalization. In the
    first century, there was no such thing as the “New Testament” as a
    book. The story of Jesus was something that had happened just ago. The
    Gospel was primarily a fact, a story – not a book, a collection of
    words or a religion. They wouldn’t write “Gospel” with capital “G”: it
    was no name, no formalization, no concept; but a good message about
    something just ago. When Christianity got its holy book, it got in
    danger to become a book religion instead of a real-life integrating
    relationship to God. The same is true, to a lesser degree, when
    Christians get a treasury of pre-made songs, song books, devotional
    books and other stuff. One could experiment with removing every
    pre-made worship material from a church, and grant the freedom to
    develop own songs, prayers etc. for worship.
  • Institutionalization. The
    institution that we call “church” was not present in the three years of
    Jesus service. Church simply was the collective noun for all believers.
    Institutionalization, esp. where it includes a clergy, adds one full
    layer of indirection to the faith in Jesus. Then, people do not believe
    in Jesus or have a relationship to Jesus, but they have a relationship
    to the church, and the church has one to Jesus (or at least says so).
  • Tradition, liturgy, Christian
    culture and religious behavior.
    Of course this creates distance,
    as it introduces new (binding) content which belongs in no way to the
    message of Jesus. One cannot use contemporary Christian culture to make
    Jesus attractive to unbelievers: cultural content adds just another
    layer of indirection. The best that culture can achieve is to “not get
    into the way”.
  • Intellectualized apologetics.
    If this gets too much space, it creates distance because
    intellectualizing things always introduces distance. Example:
    establishing creationism as a concept. If you discuss the issue of
    creation intensively, you admit that it’s not that obvious, clear and
    concrete. That is, you admit that you cannot show the truth of creation
    to people, you rather need to explain it.
  • Intellectualized theology.
    It must be possible to believe, justifiably, without western
    civilization. That is, western civilization with all its emphasis on
    intellectual matters creates distance. For example: thinking about the
    Christian faith generates new questions continuously, and these get
    more and more indirect / abstract. For example, people might discuss
    theories and concepts how to build churches in the 21st century. Wow,
    what a high-level question; that’s really a good distance away from the
    life and words of Jesus.
  • Meta books. We need to
    get rid of many of these books about the Bible, as they add
    one layer of indirection. Rather, a good translation (which is an
    unavoidable layer of indirection) is the best explanation for nearly
    all cases.
  • Quarrels. These create
    distance, because everybody who quarrels (uses force to convince)
    admits that the truth is not obvious enough to convince people.
  • Insight-based faith. The
    conviction that believing in God and the Bible is an intellectual
    necessity creates distance because it admits that thinking is necessary
    to recognize the trith about God. That is, that God is not obvious
    enough to be recognized without multi-step logical deduction.
  • Sentimentality.
    Over-emotional faith is
    a phenomenon which indicates that the direct contact to content has
    been lost. As “over-emotional” means there is more emotion than
    content. So the songs in church service should probably be not too
    emotional, they should rather express faith content straight-forward.

How to remove this distance?

If there is a
God, he’s still alive, which means that the content of Christian faith
is as concrete and as direct as it was in first century. Christian
faith is immanently concrete and direct, we just need to find a way to
justify that style of believing. Here are two contemporary approaches:

  • 24/7. The effort to reach
    a 24/7 direct relationship to God is a way to cope with the distance of
    believing in Christ in the 21st century. However, it turns out that
    such a relationship cannot exist in the sense that one’s day is filled
    with direct experiences with God.
  • History. As a counter
    movement to the 24/7 model, people may assign special importance to the
    historic facts of the Gospel. Because, there is no Christian faith
    without the historical fact of Jesus life, death on the cross and
    resurrection. Though the historical facts are necessary for the
    Christian faith, the importance assigned to them by Christians differs.
    As such, facts are a very concrete and direct basis of faith, if one
    stays away from Dealing with these facts does not necessarily create a
    distance if one stays away from. Sadly enough, people tend to
    intellectualize history as it is very difficult or impossible to deal
    another way with the complex problems of a historic proof for 2000 year
    old miracles. Again, intellectualizing stuff creates a distance.

The shortcomings of these approaches are apparent: there is no
direct 24/7 contact to God, and the intellectual approach to Gospel
history creates new distance while removing it. A third way is proposed
here: Remove what creates distance, experience God today for real, and
use an unintellectual approach to history. This combines the effective
elements of the two above ways with counter-measures against the
distance-increasing mechanisms (which were mentioned at the beginning
of this article).

Arriving at proximity

My hope is directed towards the day when I will have “arrived”. A
person is “arrived” when nothing remains to be done which he or she
sees as an unavoidable necessity before leaving this world. Arrived
persons have plenty of time for others: they are free to give away the
rest of their life as a present to other people, as they don’t need it
for themselves anymore. Arrived person know that their life is
meaningful and that its purpose is fulfilled, and that this is case
independent of what will happen in the rest of their life.

In my case, one project is left before I am arrived: to find out the
truth about God. A more careful verbalization would be: to find
contemporary, experience-based confirmation of what I believe about God
and Jesus. And yes, that includes searching for real, contemporary
miracles. To me, being arrived means to have this direct, justified,
confirmed faith I wrote about above. I like that day and that it’s
coming nearer every day 🙂


Start date: 2007-12-02
Post date: 2007-12-22
Version date: 2007-12-22 (for last meaningful change)

The next, last and only “project” I really need to get done in this
life is “Second
Acts
“, which deals with finding God at work in this world today, as
a confirmation for my faith in God and Christ. For the project, cf.
also my mindmap-style project plan in article “My
vision for my life, as a mindmap
“. Currently I can do just some
thinking, planning and preparations. Here’s one thought:

One of the crucial issues of this project is how to determine the
truth content of religions, religious experienced and claimed or
supposed-to-be experiences with God. Sunday 2007-12-09 I was in Colone
with some friends, and we also did a short visit to Colone Cathedral.
The best result of which is an inspiration I got there and typed into
my handheld computer. It is a candidate for a criterion to determine
the truth content of claims about God:

Remove all outer forms from a religion or style of
devotion, and what
remains is authentically the work of God.

That’s because all outer form is authentically the work of humans,
and it tends to obscure the work of God. Cathedrals, music, solemn speech
and so on is human work. This criterion does not require to abandon all
form in order to be the faith “where God is authentically at work”. We
may have forms, as forms can be nice, like worship music. But forms
must never ever be our reason for believing some claims about God to be
true. Therefore, experimenting with abandoning forms temporarily will
make it apparent on what basis our beliefs rest: hopefully on something
that God does, and that becomes visible as the content of the forms.

I’ll give one example how to apply this criterion. It’s an extreme
one: what remains as the authentic work of God if you substract all
outer forms from a  Sunday service in Colone Cathedral? Watch the
little video clip I made in 2007-06 in the Freiburger Münster … I
wanted to show you one from an evening mass in Colone Cathedral from
2007-12-09, but that material is not adequate here ;-). So, look at
this illustration and imagine that every impressive outer form, even
every intentional, human created audible or visible or touchable form,
is removed. What remains? I’m not sure if anything would remain in this
concrete case. What do you think?


Start date: 2007-12-09
Post date: 2007-12-12
Version date: 2007-12-12 (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
    was
    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
      [Luke
      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
Eph
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
do
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
    ESV
    ]. 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
    non-Christians.
  • 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
Pankoke-Babatz
] (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
responsibility.

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
    acknowledgement
    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.

Augustine
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
good.

[Epistulam
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)

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
approach
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
the
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
Acts
” 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
works
for mere psychological reasons, including the effects of grace. Grace
“works”, but such pragmatic
justification
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
(ESV)
, 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.
There
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”
(Heb
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
she
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
to
“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)

Introduction

What situation do you want to spend our life in? What people do you want to have around? What do you want to do as your long term main activity? Here is mine variant. Living with some fellows as a permanent, mobile, technology-enabled, intentional community … serving God by serving others … and searching God by seaching what he does today. I cannot imagine something better, something more comforting, something more stirring. Standing there, one day, dear friends around you, and knowing you’ve found what you was searching all life long: the sense of this all, in an obvious, non-ignorable way. Knowing, from then on, that you’re moving to an eternity on God’s side. Instead of just being convinced to do so.

Of course, I would prefer joining an existing community of that style, instead of building my own. Because building an  organisation is a hard, risky and tedious task – and without any worth of the desired organisation already exists. However, I did an intensive web research on 2007-11-17, and found nothing. What I found is this, by appropriateness:

  • Mobile Freak Gemeinde (MFG): in English, that’s “mobile freak church”; they’re a group of some  Jesus Freaks, living in camp buses and touring the world to tell people about Jesus; they are currently “on hold” (see post “Pause” from 2007-08-12). I really hope that you find a way to continue your vision, guys! You really rock! While they’re closest to the community I have in mind and I’d really like to meet them, they’re a group of personal friends and, as said, on hold. Not to mention our small differences in lifestyle … really, don’t want to mention 😉
  • White Stone Community: written about on this blog of its founder Baba, they’re a really stylish Jesus Freak community in Portugal and somewhat connected to MFG. Sadly, they seem to have quite high fluctuation and are not mobile … that is, they differ from the style of community I search, but again, you guys rock, too, and I’d like to meet you some day.
  • Rainbox Gatherings: this seems quite a fascinating thing, yet I do not know why I include them here as I search for a small, permanent intentional community.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams: they have a nice, consequently radical style and are Christian, but I do not share (1) their occupation with peacemaking, (2) the a priori opposition to any kind of violence, (3) their centrally controlled organisation style, (4) their dependence on fundraising, (5) their strong anti-Israeli mindset.

So … if anybody can point me to an existing group to join, I would be grateful beyond measure. But if no such group exists yet, I would be willing to start one – else I cannot expect to experience any kind of teamwork and communal living in this work that I can totally enjoy. I assume now that I indeed need to start one such community … I made good experiences with using fictional content to envision stuff, drawing a lively, motivating and self-motivating image in my and other people’s minds. To have a vision is, after all, viewing something worthy to endure pain for, so some more motivation will not hurt. I should note that this vision also expresses my wish to live an interesting, well-going life … hope God will bless me with that, not sure.

The vision

Hi … I’m Tam of Cmando. My wife Celina and six other fellows are also of Cmando. Pronounce it as “come-and-do”, with the empasis on the latter. I don’t know what Cmando is. Cmando is an intentional community of eight people … a Christian church of eight … your permanent world tour with 7 friends … a bunch of journalists and metaphysicists, tracing miracles … a multi-party house with couples and singles in it … an all-wheel truck … a company of eight friends in ever-ongoing financial trouble. Some people see us as a civil analogy to military commando, which sometimes applies, sometimes not at all.

Celina reminds me jus’ now that Cmando is rather just a permanent group of long-term friends … a set of lively discussions every evening (and mostly helpful) … these windows with their ever-changing exceptional view on untouched nature … a collection of complicated computer stuff that you never want in your living room (but sadly we have just one room in total, so it looks like ISS interieur) … a group that wants to be able to help whereever we see it fit … a network of contacts to several thousand helpful and needy people worldwide … a particularly challenging time last year (socially, as friendship is not always a box of chocolates). And so on 🙂

But, don’t worry what we are. Instead, read what way we lived today … it easier to get precise on that topic. Well then, step by step. We are currently to an expedition in Tanzania, trying to track some of the concrete things God does today. When we’re done with that, this will be published as our third (and last) book on that topic, and we’re glad to find such a wealth of  incidences that even Matew seems to be happy with that.

However, we’re not doin that stuff all day long, as we need to earn some money to live and travel here, and as we try to help some fellow Christians on the go. Therefore, this morning was dedicated to our community-owned little IT company … standing up at 5 o’clock, we’d have our running course, but with me and Celina staying at the truck for security reasons. Well, and to prepare a nice breakfast 🙂 After breakfast, our four programmers would settle behind their computers and finish one of their website projects, working in something they call extreme collaboration in a warroom environment; I’d say it’s related to
XPM.

Celina and Rebeca assisted them by doing accounting and office administration, while Rhett and I took the motorbike with sidecar to visit some local market and buy food for all of us, to prepare the food for storage, together with us, and to create a
nice meal. When we arrived back home at the truck, they were in the midst of deploying their website via Inmarsat satellite internet connection, while the girls were ready. After eating together and relaxing during the hottest part of the day, we mobilized the vehicle and departed … but paused a little while after to take in some water from a public well (whereof a location based GPS reminder had made us known).

After two hours of driving (and only 45km of distance …) we arrived at this little village of Adjoa. He was a fellow Christian whom we had met the week before, and we had promised to come and try to repair their village’s jammed well (which was a result of a tribal feud two years ago). Arriving there in late afternoon, we were heartily welcomed by Adjoa and the village elders. We were invited to an evening meal and discussed the problem with them for a while, then joined Adjoa and others in their evening prayer meeting. And finallly we sat outside at a small camp fire, discussing among Cmando members how to dig this well up again. We were kind of in a mess, as this was a 20m deep hole in the ground, 35cm in diameter, and we did not have any kind of well drilling equipment. Finally, Brady had the idea to mount our small-outline air hammer together with ballast and this high-volume fan (for removing stones and dirt) to a steel cable. And we decided to try that the other day.

End notes

Interesting enough, God’s vision for the whole Christian congregation is quite similar to the vision above. Just that I dare to envision this for a small, prototype group only, while God dares to envision that for all of us. Nonetheless, I am impressed how Paul expresses the way God envisions congregations to be … full of love, saring, honesty, mercy … and full of venturesome, faithful co-workers:

(1) Does Christ speak to you? Does love call to you? Do you have a part in the Holy Spirit? Do you have any love and care for others? (2) Then make me very, very happy. Live in happiness with one another. Have the same love for each other. Think the same way. Agree together about things. All have one purpose in mind. (3) Do not try to  prove you are better than others. Do not be proud of yourselves, but be humble. Think of other people as being better than yourselves. (4) Each one of you should not think only about himself, but about other people also. (5) Think the same way Jesus Christ thought. (6) He was in every way like God. Yet he did not think that being equal to God was something he must hold on to. (7) He gave this up and became a servant. […] (13) For God is at work in you. He helps you want to do it. And he helps you do what he wants you to do. (14) Do everything without grumbling or making trouble. (15) In that way you will be completely good. No one will be able to say anything wrong about you. You will be God’s good children living amongst bad people. Among them you will shine like lights in the world. […] (19) I hope the Lord Jesus will let me send Timothy to you soon. I will be glad to hear about you. (20) I have no one like Timothy. He is troubled to know about you. (21) All the other people think only of themselves and not of Jesus Christ. (22) But you know what a good man Timothy is. You know that he has worked with me in telling the good news. He has worked just as a son works with his father. […] (25) I thought I must send Epaphroditus, our Christian brother, back to you. He has worked with me and has also been a soldier of Christ with me. He was your messenger and he brought your gift for my needs. (26) I am sending him back because he has been lonely without you all. And his heart has been troubled because you heard that he was sick. (27) He was very sick! He almost died! But God was kind to him. He was not only kind to him, but also to me. God did not let me have one trouble after another. (28) I want even more to send him to you so that you will be happy when you see him again. And I will not be so troubled any more. (29) So receive him with much joy because he is a Christian brother. Give respect to men like him. (30) He almost died doing the work of Christ. You wished to help me, but you could not come. He came instead. He was willing to put his life in danger in order to help me. [Philippians 2:1-7,13-15,19-22,25-30 BWE]

Image source: they are used for illustration purposes only and are completely unrelated to the content of this completely fictional story. They are licensed under a Creative Commons license, published by user “simontaylor” on flickr.com as images 286272346, 286269549 (in this order).


Start date: 2007-11-17
Post date: 2007-11-19
Version date: 2007-11-19 (for last meaningful change)

Four dead-end roads

How to arrive at a truthful and (if possible) joyful life? This is justifiably the desire of humans, and it’s my desire. I tried several ways:

  1. Child-like accepted faith. I accepted to have found truth and a joyful life through Jesus, without thinking about it. This failed when I began to think about it in ~1996.
  2. Intellectualized fundamentalist faith. I was absolutely convinced to have found truth and a joyful life through Jesus, as I collected and thought about and accepted all the fundamentalist’s arguments for believing in Jesus. This failed in beginning 2005 when I realized this had shifted me to a legalistic, joyless, strained life with deliberate but not necessarily true convictions.
  3. Experienced faith with emotions. This was the best time yet: I got to know Jesus in a totally different way as a loving, gracious friend and saviour. Along the way, I throwed out many legalistic and otherwise strained convictions and wrote about that. But the best thing was that I experienced God personally in concrete ways, including some few supernatural experiences that I accept as genuine even today and honest, precious relationships to friends. That was really a time of joyful life … it ended in first half of 2006 when I experienced God no longer in these ways and then started to question the genuineness of some of these experiences, and the validity of my emotional reactions to them.
  4. Demystified history-backed faith. The following time was filled with many philosophical considerations about God, genuine experiences with God, valid emotionality etc.. It resulted in throwing out many opinions I once held and now recognized as non-genuine, mystical and religious … as documented in my blog articles. The result was an intellectually justifiable faith in Jesus, and if only as the basic conviction that Jesus is the Christ if there is any God at all (which is also faith). My faith was now founded in the historical facts about Jesus and the hope to find contemporary miracles of God in the Second Acts project (see my article “My vision for my life, as a mindmap“). This ended on Tuesday (2007-11-13) when I realized that this course would lead me neither to joy nor truth: it is the stressful, self-navigated philosophical course of a desparate seeker, therefore something that excludes joy; it also excludes joy as it would not lead to any new experiences with God, emphasizing thinking so much, not doing; and it would not lead to a confirmed conviction of truth in the short run, as Second Acts is rather a long-term project.

Fifth start: Jesus-led practical faith with experiences

My above mentioned human desire for a way to truth and life is acknowledged by Jesus as he promised all three: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:16 ESV). Jesus even promised to be the way to truth and life himself – which is the new idea for my fifth start: to let Jesus be the way. Another way round: if there is an Almighty, there’s no need for me to live this stressful seeker’s life, as God is then able to lead me to truth and life anyway; and if there is no Almighty, there’s also no need to live this stressful seeker’s life, as there’s nothing to be found.

Now, what shall this analogy mean to “let Jesus be the way”?

  • Stop to find out yourself. That is, at least for me, stop the current habit to philosophize, as it makes stuff really complicated and mostly joyless. The only alternative to excessive thinking is to start doing something. Which will also result in more practical articles in the future.
  • Expect God to navigate your life. That does not mean to just sit and wait, but to stop worrying where all this will end. As, such worries are implied in a self-navigated life: the problem is navigation when you neither know where to go nor how to get there. Letting God navigate, however, implies to not expect him to adhere to your own plans (as I proudly did with my agenda how to find truthful and joyful life). But you can trust him to strictly adhere to good plans 🙂 Only if you let God navigate, you’re going to make experiences with God; when deciding all for yourself, you’re going to make experiences with yourself.
  • Expect God to find ways to answer your questions. I won’t accept unjustified a priori statements about God and how he wants to navigate my life, and also, I won’t return to finding out myself about God and how he wants to navigate my life. But I expect that God will find ways to show me the truth about him and how he guides people, in a way I can justifiedly accept.
  • Expect God to find ways to confirm himself by experiences. Philosophy shows what could possibly be true, but one needs to experience facts to know for sure. But, stop searching those facts yourself, as that’s stressful and joyless. Personally, I expect God to show himself in my own practical life … and  to let me know what he does currently in this world. Wherefore I want to pursue this Second Acts idea further, but in a not-so-desparate way, expecting God to correct it or make it succeed.
  • Find your flavor of a lively, relaxed, simple relationship to the Father, Jesus and the Spirit. There’s no need to dig up again legalistic or fundamentalist  practices of faith, but you need a practical faith to get out of the theoretical realm. See below for concrete ideas. Whatever form you choose, put emphasis on a proud-free relationship that has room for collecting concrete experiences with believing God.

Caveat: these elements of “letting Jesus be the way” may sound as if one should expect an immediate, 24/7 relationship with God. This is not the case (see my article “The third way of life in this world“). You can expect God to navigate your life, but it is unclear in what way and when you can expect this. You’ll have to try yourself. From my experience I conclude that it can be very different form immediate, audible or visible words

😉

Practical ideas for practical faith

As said, you’ll need to let God choose the experiences you make in a radical-practical faith that’s led by God. All we can do is to furnish an environment that fosters practical experiences with God. Here are some ideas, but as I’m right at the beginning I’m quite clueless and would appreciate any additions. What is very obvious is that practical faith needs practice: thinking and talking alone has neither power nor effect. One cannot learn how to live with God practically from philosophizing and blogging (as in my case).

  • Fill the day with people. Whatever filled the day that was not practical faith, it is worth to be replaces by just that: by the simple and beautiful activity of having community with people sharing practical Christian love and building authentic relationships, which is very precious. One practical idea: when living alone, one might move to a flat-sharing community.
  • Collect some inspirations for outer forms. The goal of every outer form of faith is to support and foster the practical relationship with Jesus. You may look for new forms if you find inadequate what you know; for example, look at some things the emergent church movement does. Any outer form that supports even such basic things as memorizing what you know to be true is worth to be considered. This may include appropriate dealing with music and lyrics.
  • Find your positive access to the Bible. Whatever problem you may have with the Bible (or, more precisely: human conceptions of the Bible), it is the most important document for the Christian faith. Therefore, face your problems and find for yourself how to dig up that buried treasure. I once made good experiences with the four gospels, getting to know Jesus in a new way. And with changing the translation … . Also, I made the experience that faith can become quite arrogant and overcomplicated if one forgets the basics … which are spoken about in the Bible.
  • Collect your prejudices against God. After a frustrating period, it might be a good idea to find out what exactly is ones frustration now. That avoids an overall, diffuse disclination and fosters to consciously lay down these issues and try to learn about God anew.
  • Invest into honest, authentic friendships. This includes: daring to trust without fear, daring to be open and really (!) honest about yourself, daring to be interested in other people (not just their abilities or gifts), daring to enter a dynamic relationship without knowing the direction, talking about unconvenient matters, daring to struggle with each other (in a constructive way) and learning to do so.
  • Start to believe again in everyday life. Pray and believe, as those who do not pray won’t receive. It might be a difficult time to learn why so many many prayers do not get answered and what God really wants, but without starting to pray one can never arrive at positive experiences with God’s gifts.