Hello Joe and Shirley,
I received your letter. I was raised in a protestant Christian household, and through my life have always been surrounded by believers. I noticed early that even among Biblical adherents, there are an enormous diversity of theologies and ideologies. But despite this we are unified in a few key beliefs.
Off all the universe there is a greatest, and highest.
He created all, and knows all, and he loves all with infinite, perfect love.
Beyond this, we are divided.
Why were we and all that exists made? What does he want? What happens when we die?
Some things we attempt to know by the literature he left. Because the literature is so old, and because its meaning is only clear in select places have we bred the expanding diversity of theologies that exist today. Each believing with certainty that our theology is most pure. We also make some assumptions based on his works (by the experience of our lives), but we cannot count on all of this, being subjective, and after all, billions have lived, and almost all of them have been wrong. So only our book we have.
Other things we accept, even dogmatically, that we cannot know. What is the character of perfect God? Most that I speak to insist we can never understand, that his greatness and love so exceeds us that we cannot hope to comprehend. An idea which helps us to grapple with the rest we can’t know, like why is there so much suffering in the world, why is the suffering afflicted even to innocents? Is this justice? Is this also perfect love?
“In some way it must be.” We must insist. But this answer, and its practiced elaborations impress no one.
In all faiths and denominations there are elements we can know, and then there is everything which lies behind the walls of our awareness. Complex structures mankind organizes there, scaffolded by faith. Because these structures exist outside of our ability to measure, or to test, they are characteristically difficult to validate or defend even if right, and entirely immune to correction when wrong.
All we have is this… feeling. The canon of our own lives. Our own experience with the maker. You know he’s there like I do. You know how different your life has been because you’ve known him. You can see how distinct it is from those that don’t. For you and me its true. If the sky opened today and the veil rolled away and it was all revealed with irrefutable certainty to be a lie, that there was no god nor heaven nor perfect love it wouldn’t move us.
We know it because we are known in return, by a thing with such infinite penetrating intimacy, intimacy to us that exceeds what we know of ourselves. That’s his power.
When I talk to those who haven’t met him they draw me up they call me out they point to all the floundering, bickering believers and the discord of their beliefs. I move them aside, to reach them I have to, and return to the simple truth, to what unifies us.
There is a greatest, a highest, he made it all and knows it all and loves with perfect, infinite love. The rest I agree to be in question. It is already enough for me.
- a servant of Jehovih