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Doxa at Harvard 

Former Christian Union Teaching Fellow Nick Nowalk unpacks a talk regarding the hiddenness of God titled, "The God Who Hides: Reflections on the Central Dilemma of Faith" to Christian Union Gloria students at Harvard. 

There are many objections that have been raised time and again throughout history against belief in the existence or goodness of God. These criticisms come from every area imaginable: science, history, philosophy, sociology, ethics, etc. Many human beings have found some or all of these objections plausible, especially in modernity. And many remain committed to "faith seeking understanding," convinced that such attacks can be answered and met adequately. Yet underneath all such debates between faith and unbelief lay a far more disturbing and consequential issue--the hiddenness of God.

God's seeming experiential and empirical unavailability to human beings, at least in any verifiable sense, constitutes the most painful, nefarious and problematic objection to the core claims of the Christian faith. As the prophet Isaiah once cried out, "Truly you are a God who hides himself!" (45:15) The suffering Job once asked in anguish: "Why do you hide your face from me, and count me as your enemy?" (13:24). The Psalms are filled with the angst and disorientation that arise from the experience of the God who hides: "Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" (10:1). "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" (13:1-2). "Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?" (44:23-24). Every other objection against faith in God takes on added weight and an increased plausibility in light of the hiddenness of God.

If God is really there and desires for us to know and love Him, why would He make His very existence a matter of dispute and not self-evident and irrefutable to all? And why would He stand by--silent, absent, hidden--while so much evil and injustice abounds in the world, failing to respond to innocent sufferers to cry out for mercy and help?

In this talk, we will examine and explore the contours of the hiddenness of God, both intellectually and practically. We will consider the classic criticisms that religion's cultured despisers have articulated around God's hiddenness. And we will look at various responses that theologians and philosophers have countered these objections with. Most of all, we will look at how the hiddenness of God "fits" in the story of Scripture, and what role it plays in how God relates to the world and how He seeks to restore and redeem it as He makes Himself known in and through Jesus and the body of Christ, endowed and equipped with God's own Spirit. Neither the drama of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, nor the identity and vocation of the church, can be rightly understood unless we grapple with the problem of the hiddenness of God in the world.

Christian Union Gloria
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