Friday, January 05, 2007

Do We Feel God?

Today when I put his bowl of Cheerios down in front of him, Gabriel - my youngest - asked me a curious question. "My heart is medium-sized, and God is huge. How can God be in my heart?"

I attempted to explain that, when we say God is in our hearts, we mean that we don't see, hear, or taste him but rather feel him.

How good an answer is this? Do we really feel God?

Well, what are the sorts of things we feel? Love, hate, disgust, elation, etc. It seems a strange thing to add God to this list. Take the example of love. It seems to be something purely relational - it concerns how a person feels about a thing. Love, as it were, reaches out beyond the lover and finds its object in a second thing. The same seems true of the other things we feel.

Is God, then, something purely relational? This seems wrong. Relations depend for their existence upon the things related - if one or the other were to cease to exist, the relation would cease as well. Thus if God were relational, he would be a dependent being. But he is not.

What, then, is the source of our experiential knowledge of God? If we cannot perceive him via the senses and cannot feel him, what is the matter of our contact with him?

1 comment:

C Grace said...

When I know that someone loves me, really know it, what happens in my heart? Doesn't my heart open up in response and want to return that love? So I feel someone's love for me as an impulse to love them in return. This I think is how we 'feel' God in our heart. The person who is seeking God is seeking Him because their heart has been touched by His love.

The problem is that in our mind we are blind. Thus we seek what we cannot see, our heart's impulse finds no object to rest in, or more properly, no returning love to rest in. When we love someone we are not looking to gain an object. We want to know that we are loved in return.

"Thus if God were relational, he would be a dependent being."

God is relational because of the trinity. The Father loves the Son and the Son the Father, the Spirit is the personal bond of love between them. He is only dependent upon Himself in this.

"What is the matter of our contact with him?" Faith is the first matter of our contact with Him. We have to believe and not doubt that He is present and loves us even though we do not feel anything. It is a battle to bring our minds into submission to a truth that can't be proved and that seems foolish.

"If you love me you will obey my commands." And His command is to believe in the One He has sent-Jesus Christ. A personal God makes no sense unless one accepts the doctrines of the trinity and the incarnation and understands what happened in Christ's crucifiction and resurrection.

Since none of these doctrines can be proved, nor do they make logical sense they must be accepted on authority. In accpeting the authority of the Church one is by default accepting the authority of God.