In my articles “The third way of life in this world” and “What kinda company with God is possible?” I argued that God’s mediate gifts are the normal case and immediate contact with God is the rare case. Immediate contact with a supernatural being as God is itself supernatural by character, and supernatural experiences are indeed the rare case in this life.
Thinking and talking about this again, I found that this is not all. My conception of classifying contact with God in the “mediate” and “immediate” area was simple but not enough. Between these is a third area, which I just touched in “The third way of life in this world” when I said:
There might be a greater number of cases where you cannot discern if it was really God (e.g. having some spontaneous thoughts, some visionary images and dreams, and for events where you suspect supernatural coordination). This is just normal and shouldn’t bother.
What I am going to do now is surveying well-founded reports from believers about this “cream white area” of contact with God. (Umh, this wording is just to avoid “grey area” to describe something undecidable … grey does not harmonize with God’s character as grey is boring and akin to darkness, and God hates darkness.) I will use here the Bible as my source for finding such reports. Before showing some examples I define interpretable immediate contact with God (or, creme white immediate contact) as something that fulfills these conditions:

  • What happens seems to be a context-sensitive and individual gift. It seems to be something intended for the present individual situation as it is quite rare (not one of those omnipresent or highly probable good things) and one of a small number of things that can help in the present situation.
  • No supernatural experiences are involved. Supernatural experiences include those which break the laws of nature, but also those which conform to the laws of nature but unquestionably show a supernatural agency. The latter is the case e.g. for prophetic dreams that reveal something to the dreamer he could not know – for example if a code appears in the dream like a bible verse reference, and the decoded verse hits to the ground of the situation.
  • The result is not the intended result of human agency. Both an immediate and mediate gift of God might involve a human being as the actual “giver”. If the gift’s effect is just what the human giver intended, this is a mediate gift: it’s good because God’s creation contains people who know what is good in a certain situation. If however the gift’s result was unpredictable by the human giver (e.g. comforting somebody regarding a problem unknown to the giver), this might be an immediate gift from God … and in other cases, chance.

Because no supernatural experiences are involved, one cannot unquestionably argue for God’s agency. But because what happens seems to be a context-sensitive gift which comes not from humans, the situation is open to interpret it as an immediate encounter with God. Such a situation is undecidable: this might be an immediate encounter with God (just implemented in natural means); or it might be a purely mediate gift which seems to be context-sensitive by chance. In any case, one has the same reason to praise God, but the amount of comfort to draw from this would be different. So in the practical case, interpretable immediate contact with God generates an amount of comfort between that of mediate gifts and (uninterpretable) immediate contact with God.

Cream white contact 1: God comforts Paul by the arrival of Titus

“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.” (II Cor 7:6-7 NIV)

What does this mean?

Cream white contact 2: supernatural gifts

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (I Cor 13:1-2 NIV)

This is case that hardly fits in the “cream white contact” category … because here, supernatural experiences are involved, but the other two above conditions apply: it seems to be an individual gift and the result is just as intended by the transmitting human. So, it has the “good, self-supporting system” character from mediate gifts, and the supernatural character from immediate gifts. One can clearly see God’s agency, but it is not clear what part of this gift’s context-sensitivity is God’s and what is human’s. So the immediateness of this gift form God remains open to interpretation.

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