The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Listen and Watch

Gary Thomas came up with the idea.

Andy Stanley supports it.

John Ortberg does too.

So, while respectable men support these great ideas, I don't. These men are much more reputable than I, but I think that bad theology is lurking here.

Each of these books advocates spiritual pathways to God. They promote honorable ideals of connecting with God. That certainly should be a goal in our lives. However, the methodology they advocate is, I think, not accurate. That is, there is a subtle, but detectable, fallacy latent in these great-sounding ideas.

In brief, as I understand it, spiritual pathways are determined by how we are wired. Some of us are relational, intellectual, contemplative, and the like. Every individual is some mix of these, but generally predominant in one or two. It is via these personality traits that we connect to God, we find our pathway to God.

No, they are not advocating the belief that there are multiple paths to God, like all roads lead to Rome. Instead, as I understand it, these are simply ways they move closer to God after they've found him, like in any relationship: after you meet someone you make an effort to get to know them by talking, sharing activities, being together.

That all sounds good and spiritual and beneficial. It certainly appeals and feels that way.

The problem I see is this: We are completely reliant on God to relate to us. We cannot get closer or further from God by our own effort. This seems counterintuitive, against reason. Of course we can: I can read the Bible (if you're a Christian) or see him in nature or think good thoughts about him. But if God didn't give us the Bible, or create nature, or the ability to reason, we could not know God.

These spiritual pathways adovocates are saying that connecting with God is a matter of accessing your pathway. What I'm saying is that all these personality theories are true, but being misunderstood. Instead, we should see them as receptors, spiritual satallite dishes, each tuned to different channels, each recieving the same God-intended information through them: be they creation, contemplation, intellect, worshiping, or otherwise.

The difference is that they are saying you can do something to learn about God--you can launch a rocket in to the Space of God, what I'm saying is God has given you the ability to recieve his divine transmissions that come through mountains, art, journeys, silence, thinking, and the others. It's simply a matter of being willing to listen to his transmissions.

These aren't of your own doing, God gave you your satellite dish. He transmits to every imaginable receiver: the Bible (I believe) are the words he speaks to those listening for Him, and creation is the expressions on his face for those who are looking for him. And there are others.

Whether you allow it to penetrate your soul in your choice. But you don't move toward or away from him, you only listen or get distracted. You either watch what's on God's channel or you tune it out.

I think the aforementioned writers would agree. They have good reputations for a reason; however, I think the idea of the words "spiritual pathways" leads to a misguided understanding of how we know God. We don't connect with Him, we are simply made aware of Him. We don't do anything to get to God, we only listen and watch.