I presume this will get quite a mournful article. It’s not that I’m
happy with what I’m going to note here, I’d really like it to be the
other way round. So disprove me if you can, I’d be grateful for that.

The problem starts with the sad fact that we as Christians in the
Christian Western world don’t experience God for real. There are some
believable reports, but not enough and not obvious
enough to serve as a contemporary justification for ones faith. Most
are not believable, though: they’re too close to the entropy lowerings
that happen by chance in a life full of dynamics and interaction. It’s
a point of selective perception: we select the favourable chances out
and call them “acts of God”, and ignore the unfavourable chances as
“that’s just life”. This would not be possible with obvious works of
God.

The first thing to note is that is is no exceptional case. We’ve got
other cases like that reported in the Bible. For example this:

“Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli.
And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent
vision.” [The
Bible, I Samuel 3:2, ESV
]

So I won’t suggest general cessationism as the “doctrinal solution”
here. Instead, it “just happens” (for some reasons yet unknown to me)
that God does not acts or speaks in some areas at some times. I will
call it “geo-cessationism” or “living in a cessationist area”. It seems
as if God would let people alone at times with just the historic fact
that Jesus dies for them and that they can get saved by believing that.
Of course Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to be always with us, and this
might be the case, but then, the effects of the Spirit are untraceable,
neither in our own nor in other people’s life in cessationist areas, so
that it is impossible to use the effects to justify ones faith in the
Holy Spirit and Jesus.

For us, this means that we need to be able to cope with such a
situation. Here’s my suggestion for the various aspects of a coping
strategy:

  • You have to justify your faith from other sources. From history,
    and /
    or by moving to or visiting an area where God acts today. This is more
    difficult and less reliable than experiencing God himself, but it is
    just that way.
  • You’ve gotta live your life pretty much on your own. You may
    spread your life ‘n sorrows before God in prayer and you can expect him
    to listen. But don’t expect him to help practically. (There will be
    some rare cases where he does, rejoice in them. But don’t expect this
    to happen for any single case you pray for, as it won’t happen in the
    average case and “hope deferred makes the heart sick” [The
    Bible, Proverbs 13:12, ESV
    ].) From God’s side, all that is there to
    help you is the general truth in the Bible (you need to read,
    understand and apply it yourself), the community with your brothers and
    sisters and their loving help. That’s pretty much compared to not
    believing in God, but it lacks His concrete help, like, by prophecies
    for you and stuff.

So while it seems possible to cope with living in a cessationist
area, it’s no box of chocolates. So may I be surprised with
experiencing God’s acts, here or otherwhere, not too far from now … .


Start date: 2008-05-10
Post date: 2008-05-10
Version date: 2008-05-10 (for last meaningful change)

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