One of my goals for this year is to find a compelling explanation for the hiddenness of God. Particularly, I want to know why he’s more hidden now than he was at a couple of different times in the past.
Whenever you bring this up, there’s always a contingent from the more animistic flavors of Christianity who will jump in and exclaim “Aha, but he isn’t REALLY hidden, you just aren’t a member of the One True Sect like I am, where God speaks to us directly and true prophets are found! Repent, and join!” To disarm and reveal this evangelically identitarian agenda as a predictable form of distraction, I’d like to note a proof of concept.
1 Samuel 3
1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
If we take the Bible as a perfectly reliable witness of God’s character, then this story proves the existence of times when God is more hidden than at other times. Therefore it doesn’t need to be argued whether God is more hidden today, since we have proof of concept that even people with the most access of anyone on earth at a particular time could have so little access that they wouldn’t know God’s voice if they heard it.
I cast inb4: 1 Sam 1: “…In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” There exist times when God reveals less to us than others.