At the close of Part 1 of the discussion on divine hiddenness, I posed the the question “Is God actually hidden?” The entire discussion up to this point assumes that God is intentionally hiding himself, that he is playing a game of hide and seek. But Scripture clearly teaches that God is not hidden; he has indeed revealed himself. The Apostle Paul says that everyone knows that God exists and that he is omnipotent. People know this by observing what has been made (Rom. 1:20). As Psalm 19:1 even attests, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Paul specifically says that God is the one who made himself known to the world (Rom. 1:19). Moreover, no one has an excuse for not knowing God exists (Rom. 1:20). This knowledge of God is typically referred to as general revelation; people everywhere, in general, know who God is in general.
Additionally, God has revealed himself to specific people at specific times in history in clear and distinct ways. For example, God revealed himself directly to Moses in the burning bush, instructing him to specifically go to Pharaoh (Exod. 3). Later, God gave him the Ten Commandments to deliver to the Israelites (Exod. 20). The most imminent way in which God revealed himself directly and personally was through his Son, Jesus Christ. These ways in which God revealed himself is referred to as special revelation.
Since it is clear that God has revealed himself (generally and specially), what, then, is all the fuss about concerning the hiddenness of God? It seems to me that, first of all, the hiddenness of God is more of a complaint (or should I say excuse?) put forth by those who do not seek God in the right way or by those who wish for him not to exist, such as atheist Thomas Nagel. It is instructive that the Apostle Paul talks about how the knowledge of God is actually suppressed: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom. 1:18-19). The point is that everyone knows that God exists; it’s just that, as sinners, they desire to ignore him. And then, attempting to excuse themselves, they complain that if he existed he would make himself known so clearly as not to be doubted. But as mentioned before, would such a person really believe in God if he were to shout from the heavens that he existed? It is very doubtful. Such a person who demands God to do such a thing would perhaps just find another excuse, like God didn’t shout loud enough or didn’t call out a specific name. It is a person’s sinful will that often impedes one from finding God.
If one truly desires to find God, he cannot make demands about how God ought to reveal himself. As C. S. Lewis pointed out in the Chronicles of Narnia, God is not a tame lion. If a person truly desires to seek God, he must seek him on God’s terms: in a spirit of humility. Christian philosopher Paul Copan points out, “The appropriate stance for the seeker is not to demand of God, but to ask what God, if he exists, demands of me.” Only when people seek God honestly and humbly do they find God. Blaise Pascal once wrote,
Willing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from Him with all their heart, [God] so regulates the knowledge of Himself that He has given signs of Himself, visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not. There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition (Pensees, #430).
May those who seek God seek him with a humble spirit. May they also seek him in more than a passively open, intellectual engaging way; may they seek him in a morally serious way. Only then will God be found.
Peter Jay Rasor II