What Does God Want?
After a couple of weeks away from home on vacation where I tried to limit my reading to novels, I picked up Samir Selmanovic’s It’s Really All About God again this morning. As I’ve alluded to before, it’s a bit of a rambling and not altogether coherent apologia for a kind of “let’s just embrace mystery and all get along” approach to the challenges of the religious plurality that currently characterizes many parts of our increasingly globalized world. So far, the book strikes me as a commendable enough practical approach to living peacefully with those who do not share our beliefs, but one that tends to wander too frequently into confusing a practical political and social strategy for a coherent philosophical/theological worldview.
Nonetheless, Selmanovic does offer a number of passages that make the reader sit up and take notice. Like this one, from a chapter on the “blessing” of atheism:
God does not have an ego that can be wounded by our disbelief about God’s existence. God, I suggest, would prefer a world where humans love and care for each other and this planet even at the expense of acknowledging God, rather than believing in and worshiping God at the expense of caring for one another and the world.
This Sunday I will be preaching from 1 Tim. 2:1-7 where Paul talks about the “one God” and “one mediator between God and human beings” who wants “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” On the face of it, Paul seems to flatly contradict the quote above and equate—or at least strongly link—salvation with knowledge of the truth. But things are not necessarily always as they seem. Among the questions I will be wrestling with is as I approach this weekend are:
- What role does knowledge play in the process of salvation?
- What does God gain by people believing or “knowing” the correct things if this belief/knowledge doesn’t lead to improving things here and now?
- Is it even possible to believe or know the correct things about reality without it having an effect on how we behave—without it leading to, as Selmanovic puts it, an increase in love and care for human beings and the planet? And if said increase is not evident, what does this say about what we think we know?
- Conversely, is it possible to live correctly without in some sense “believing” or “knowing” at least something of the truth about reality?
Lots to think about as Sunday approaches…