– What impact might an act of communication from God have on your life?

When God speaks, we are invited to act. I am unfamiliar with a divine voice that just wants to chitchat. My position here, like my post on Jan 20, stems from a belief that humans are always and only subordinate to God. By that I mean only that God is always acting first when God relates to humans; while humans are only ever responding when we relate to God. I would not have used the word “inferior” to describe this. I meant only to speak of the structure (not quality) of our relationship with God. While humans can experience God’s grace and then respond in kind, God—when confronted with the utter lack of grace humans can all too easily display—will never ever respond in kind to us. Nor is God ever in need of some human to be gracious first. Humans, on the other hand, always need someone to go first.

Sheelah, you were quite right to say that it is a great challenge to think of God as an equal. If that is so, then not only can we ask our discussion question “What impact might an act of communication from God have on my life?” but—to get the complete picture of equality—we must also ask “What impact might an act of communication from me have on God’s life?” While I do hope to participate in the divine life, I am reluctant to embrace the idea that I can participate in defining it. How far does our equality go? When Jesus says to his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is he only telling part of the story? Should he have added “… and you, also, are the way, the truth, and the life … and Andrew from Kentucky, him too … and anybody else really since there is nothing to distinguish any of us as we are all equal to one another.”

Since I’ve only just started this program, I don’t yet know much about the theological assumptions affirmed by the people operating it. Someone with a more conservative view of scripture might take offense at what I just did: extrapolating on your position to make it look like you don’t think scripture got it completely right. It might come across as if I was saying with a snide sneer, “To say what you want to say, you’ll need to supplement scripture with your own material!” Please know that I was NOT trying to deliver a “low blow” or accuse you of something scandalous; I ONLY wanted to communicate precisely how much difficulty I’ll have in accepting your Jan 21 comment as tenable. Perhaps I’ll overcome that difficulty someday—I don’t yet know.

On the other hand, someone with a more liberal view of scripture might think it is fine and dandy if we need to fill in some gaps here and there where the Bible doesn’t get it completely right. If that is closer to your position, I’d like to point out that, if we add the “you, too, are the way/truth/light …” statement to John 14, we aren’t just filling in a gap the Bible might have skipped over—it’s opposing what Jesus says explicitly in the next line: “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Whatever your take on reading scripture may be, let me thank you, Sheelah, for checking in on this message board. I didn’t know that there would be any discussion opportunities when I signed up, and I am thrilled to find there are people involved—and not just videos. It can’t be easy field responses from all us wackos who inhabit the Internet. I see you have been at it at least since Feb 2014, so you no doubt have encountered variegated comments of the most peculiar stripes and speckles. Thank you for your time and work. If I didn’t know someone was reading these responses, I could have easily thumbed my nose at Fr Merton and raced through Fr Alison’s videos at a galloping (and pointless) clip–I’ve done such things before. Thanks for helping me do better.