An insidiously influential worldview
One of the most troubling questions for a Christian, whether it takes shape in her own mind or is posed to her by another is, If God is real and cares about us, why don’t we see more direct evidence of his activity in our lives? If he knows and loves us and is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,” why doesn’t he? Why are our lives so “natural” if a supernatural being is involved in them?
I’ve recently come across an answer to those questions that rings true to me, though when I first read it I thought, No…this doesn’t sound right. This can’t be why someone like me who truly believes in God and virtually always has doesn’t experience more of his supernatural activity. I was reading the book Fearless Prayer by Craig Hazen in which he argues that even solid Christians are being subtly influenced by a worldview which we consciously confidently reject. We dismiss it as inaccurate but its pervasiveness in our culture gives it a legitimacy that we unconsciously accept.
The worldview is naturalism, the belief that all of reality is physical or material. Only the natural world exists…the supernatural world is only in our minds (which is not how a naturalist would put it because the mind is immaterial). Hazen calls naturalism “the mother of all barriers” to the supernatural activity of God in our lives because we are so immersed in a naturalistic environment that an expectation of a supernatural answer to prayer seems unrealistic. Despite our genuine belief that God exists and that the supernatural world is as real as the natural, the natural and naturalism are so predominant that they impact our mindset and diminish our presence, if you will, in the supernatural world. We live in the natural world; the supernatural is real but we don’t consider ourselves to reside there so don’t expect to see evidences of it around us.
The focus of Hazen’s book is John 15:7 where Jesus tells his disciples, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Hazen explains that in context the verse is specific to requests related to bearing fruit for God. It is not a promise to come through with a Jaguar, a cushy job, or even physical healing. But since a true follower of Christ will be looking for ways to do good and make other disciples in the normal course of his or her life, there are many ordinary things we might want to ask for that would impact our fruitfulness. It is not frivolous to pray for a parking spot if you’re running late and need to catch a flight taking you to an old friend who is hurting. Nor for a reliable and affordable vehicle to park there and the funds to pay for the flight.
Yet despite Jesus’s apparently clear promise in John 15:7, we don’t ask or ask without the faith that he will actually grant our requests because we have been “naturalized” by the secular culture we live in. After my initial dubious reaction to the author’s premise I began examining my own mindset and concluded that, yes, I too have allowed the naturalism that I have opined against to hinder my faith. But if naturalism is false, then supernaturalism is true and I should be just as comfortable engaging with the supernatural world as I am with what I can see and touch. Hazen relates stories of miraculous interventions of God in areas of the world lacking the powerful influence of a naturalistic worldview. Calling on God to provide is “second nature” to believers there and God powerfully answers their prayers.
Fearless Prayer does not promote a “name it and claim it” theology that says if you don’t get everything you pray for it’s because you don’t have enough faith. No good parent gives his child everything she asks for even if it would be harmful to her or others, or if withholding it would actually benefit her. Similarly, our heavenly Father has good reasons for sometimes denying our requests, even when we are completely trusting in him. And even when we are asking with the goal of a more bountiful harvest for him.
What it does promote is the very reasonable conclusion that if we believe God exists and is active in the world, we should expect to see some of that activity in our own lives. The author recognized the insidious influence of naturalism in his own life and wants the rest of us to recognize it too so that we will pray more boldly, more confidently, and for more things. And become completely at home in the supernatural world we do live in.
Hi Caroline. So you have bought into the delusion of the supernatural. You believe that there is another place or space that is either outside of the natural universe or is somehow intermingled with the natural universe.
What is your belief in resurrection and afterlife? Do you really believe that a dead brain can be reconstructed with all earthly memories in tact? And then, to exist in heaven for eternity? It is a scam. There is but one life, not two. I’m sure you disagree, so all I can say is, delusion abounds. GROG
If you like miracles, the greatest miracle is that we are here at all. To be alive and able to experience life is but a matter of being lucky. There have been billions and billions who didn’t make, and it wasn’t because of abortion.
Hey, Grog. Thanks for reading and commenting. I do believe in an afterlife. How did you come to the conclusion that it’s a scam?
Resurrection is a dream wish. Everything that is alive will die and to believe that humans are special and if they are “worthy” will continue to exist is some form (in heaven) which is impossible for me to believe. An important element in this delusion is because Jesus became a personal God and the myth of his resurrection got the blessings of the Roman Empire which allowed it to survive and spread; to the detriment of the world, I might add. GROG
Yes, well…you didn’t answer my question.
Oh, you would like to know how I came to the conclusion that religion is a scam? Well it took awhile. I had a stint with religion. Mormon family, but not very active. Fortunately I never really bought into the Jesus, Joseph Smith thing. I dabbled, feeling it was a more philosophical exercise. Since retiring I’ve gotten interested in a variety of things. A book by Sam Harris: The End of Faith, got me started on God. My goal was to find out what I really believed was true. I believe everyone has a spirit, but to believe it “lives on” is magical thinking. The crux of belief in God is the delusion of resurrection, and of course heaven. Getting someone to believe the unbelievable takes a charmer like Joe Smith, Muhammad, Jimmy Jones, or believing parents that pass it on to their children.
The story of Joseph Smith and his cult is a classic scam and still going strong. If you like funny books, try the book of Mormon. GROG
I share your opinion of Mormonism. When Mitt Romney was running for president I wrote a post about my reservations about him, though I voted for him, because of his commitment to the LDS faith. I figured, if he was a smart guy and was serious about his faith, like he said he was, then he’d have to see how unbelievable it is. So either he isn’t as smart as he seems or his faith was just for show and he was being insincere.
But I do have a question for you…have you ever sincerely investigated Christianity? Because Mormonism ain’t it.
Another one…if you believe “everyone has a spirit,” what leads you to believe it doesn’t live on?
Ole Mitt, proud son of Mormons and Mormonism (because he pays a healthy tithe). Caroline, it is all the same scam. The difference from other resurrection scams is that Christ became a personal God through Jesus, and the scam began. Salvation, resurrection, judgment and the Holy of Hollies forever.
I have a Mormon relative who told me that “one day” he will be a God with his own spiritual children. Hey, I know delusional! GROG
A very encouraging word! You provoke me to go deeper.
I’m glad. I too have been provoked to be more aware of what is real, and how the superficial can obscure and detract from the supernatural which is ultimate reality.
How often do we miss out on what God can do because we live only in the natural world?
Imagine someone invented eyeglasses that instead of giving you “X-Ray vision” (Remember those ads? I always wanted a pair.), gave you “spiritual vision” as in:
2Ki 6:16 — 2Ki 6:17 (KJV)
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Yea, I want that more than the X-ray glasses.😁
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