Sunday, July 05, 2015

The Vivid Immediacy of Our God

Green Lake Conference Center, Green Lake, Wisconsin

Linda and I are vacationing in Grand Haven, Michigan following a beautiful week at our annual HSRM conference. I experienced the closeness of God's presence at the conference, and experience God this morning in the house we are renting for a week in this beautiful Lake Michigan community.

One of the books I brought to beach-read this week is by Stanford anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann - When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. This book is about the core Evangelical and Pentecostal value of experiencing God. This value explains, for Luhrmann, why these churches are growing while liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic churches are in decline.

Luhrmann also writes for the New York Times. In today's edition she says:

"In May, the Pew Research Center released a study showing that the Christian share of the population has declined, and that the decline came from Protestant mainstream churches and Catholicism — not evangelicalism. Evangelical churches are gaining converts more rapidly than they are losing any who grew up in the tradition. I’ve always thought that the primary appeal of these churches was the vivid immediacy of their God." (Luhrmann, "The Appeal of Christian Piety")

Yes. The vivid immediacy of my God. I experienced God as a child. I experienced God in a (for me) dramatic conversion experience that forever released me from alcohol and drug abuse. I have 4000 pages of journal entries cataloguing my God-experiencings. This is about knowing God, in relationship. This reality, even more than apologetic reasoning, is why I remain theistic and Jesus-following.