We have been asking What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? (207) In one of the articles (219) we said "the Gospel, plain and simple, is a promise of eternal life to those who will reject every distance-generating barrier and embrace the truth that Jesus died for our sins to close the distance." In this article I want to pursue this issue of distance-generating barriers.
Religion is, at the same time, both a great potential for good and an awesome potential for eternal disaster. The reason? Because religion offers man what he wants; either a way to get close to God, or a way to hold Him at arm's length. But there are two basic kinds of religion. One calls for man's faith in a personal God Who is personally involved in the details of our days; the other allows man to treat God as a machine while feeling good about himself.
Let me explain. The religion that calls for man to believe has a basic assumption built into it. It assumes that God is a Person Who has made a promise. The alternative religion is one which assumes God is a machine that has buttons and levers which men can push and pull in order to get what they want out of life. But the two are easily confused. It is rather easy to confuse a person with a machine (evolutionists have done this and have gotten away with it for years); and it is just as easy to confuse a machine with a person (who hasn't talked to a machine on occasion to attempt to get it to function properly, or cussed it for not functioning properly?)
In the religious realm, every time men make the claim that God will respond with blessing to a thoughtless act, they make God into a machine. For example, a lot of churches tell their constituents that if they baptize their infants God will respond to the infant and give that baby eternal life. But this doctrine is the teaching of God as machine. Since nothing personal occurs between the baby and God (because the baby is incapable of relating to God), the teaching that God will regenerate someone because they are being baptized is nothing more or less than the mechanization of God. God is a machine; push this baptism button, and He will dispense eternal life. It is a lie. It is also easily demonstrated to be a lie: not one verse in the Bible teaches that water baptism should be administered to those who cannot think, believe, or otherwise respond to the personal God.
So also is every teaching that divorces action from the thought and motive of the person doing the action. Every time people are taught that God will bless them for doing something with no regard to their motives, they are being taught that God is a machine. But God is a Person Who looks at what is done and weighs the motives of the person doing what is done. For most people this is very intimidating, so they settle into a dogma of God as machine while saying with their mouths that He is a Person.
How personally close is your god/God?