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What is a Personal Relationship With God?

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While taking note of the trial of Anders Breivik, one of the issues that has come up is the fact that many people in Europe and America  identify themselves as Christians in a cultural sense, without meaning that they are claiming a personal relationship with God.

As a friend of the blog clarified, many believe it is possible to be an atheistic Christian in the sense that their family and national roots link them to the moral and cultural aspects of Christianity regardless of whether they believe there is a God or not.

The point raises a number of questions that deserve a response:

1.  Can we understand why many believe it sounds arrogant for a mortal to claim a personal relationship with God?

2. Do we see how it could sound like the ultimate form of name-dropping– i.e. like getting a sense of exaggerated or imagined self-importance because a famous actor or actress is a cousin of ours?

3. Can we  see why cultural Christians question how the Bible can be read as God’s personal mail to us even though it was addressed to people living in different times and circumstances a long time ago?

4. Does talking to God without hearing an audible response from him amount to the kind of conversation that would qualify us for a personal relationship?

5. How can interacting with general information about who God is and what he is like qualify as a personal relationship?

I was going to take these one at a time, but am guessing that it might help to raise the importance of the issue by listing several questions together. Am hoping that you might think of additional questions that might be in people’s minds when they hear us talk about God as if he were a family member or friend.

If we could together come up with answers to these questions, am guessing that it would not only help us clarify the nature of our own faith, but offer something for others to consider– if they only think of themselves as cultural Christians.

 

 

 


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62 Responses to “What is a Personal Relationship With God?”

  1. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… thank you for asking. My time right now is very limited so i will not develope my point much, but my first and formost thought is this, You are not born a Christian. If your born a Christian and that is how you identify yourself, then it is cultural birth only. Later… Gary

  • remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    All the questions you have posed are interesting, but these two interest me the most. I have heard actual answers from atheistic, culturally Christian persons:

    4. Does talking to God without hearing an audible response from him amount to the kind of conversation that would qualify us for a personal relationship?

    5. How can interacting with general information about who God is and what he is like qualify as a personal relationship?

    I have had individuals who know and interact with me on a personal level tell me they feel as though they are talking to themselves when they try to pray. Whereas I myself might find an answer before I can formulate the question – in Scripture or in considering a “Jesus-sighting” I have experienced in life – these friends of mine seem to believe and behave as though all things are initiated or all things emanate from themselves. They believe they live in their own heads, it seems.

    Number 5 is particularly interesting to me when a person experiences a change (or not) in the level of understanding of who God is – especially in Jesus – when information about the acts of God becomes personal and intimate to life. The classic example is John Wesley, in a time of personal turmoil and defeat, hearing an inspirational talk about the Book of Romans and suddenly feeling for the first time (in his 30s) that Jesus had actually loved him so much he had removed the sin from his soul by his sacrifice on a Roman cross. For those who learn about God’s love, the entire world is turned upside down – or inside out – and we begin to live the life Christ purchased for us. We receive the life to which Jesus was resurrected.

    Blessings,
    Maru