Is God an Ancient Elitist?

God and His message are hidden to so many people, but it isn’t a mystery. It is “hidden” in clear sight!

Some people seem to think God is an elitist. Some people believe that God can only be understood by people who crack God’s code and discover access to His secrets. Another, label for this kind of thinking about God is the occult, though we sometimes put a more acceptable sheen on this kind of thinking.

This kind of thinking even creeps into churches and personal views on God. Christians sometimes give into temptations to divine the future or hidden truth in numerology, astrology, tarot cards, palm reading, tea leaves, etc.

Other people find in the “hiddenness” of God reason to doubt His existence. They argue that God shouldn’t play hide and seek with the world, that God should be obvious to all, and the fact that He isn’t obvious to all people means that God doesn’t exist.

I don’t find truth in either proposition. At the very least, neither proposition describes the God of the Bible. I have addressed the hiddenness of God several times in my writing, I don’t recall addressing the occult, much. Today this view on spiritual reality that I am describing here as the elitist view of God comes by way of inspiration from Dr. Michael Guillen.

My inspiration for this post comes specifically from a podcast episode titled, Numerology, Gematria & Kabbalah, in which Dr, Guillen spent most of his time talking about the cult of Pythagoras, numerology, gematria and Kabbalah in a thoughtful, objective way. Did you know that Pythagoras worshipped numbers? Especially the number 10?

You probably have heard of claims that the Bible is full of hidden wisdom and truth that can be uncovered with the right application of a numerical code. You will learn some interesting things if you go to the link and listen to whole podcast episode.

Michael Guillen has a personal history with numbers. At UCLA, he earned a B.S. in physics and mathematics. He went on to Cornell University, where he earned an M.S. in experimental physics and obtained a Ph.D. in physics, mathematics and astronomy. Guillen’s own “affection” for numbers gives him unique perspective on mathematics and the love of numbers.

If anyone with religious inclinations might be tempted to worship numbers, Dr. Guillen would be a likely candidate. He even wrote a book titled Five Equations that Changed the World: The Power and Poetry of Mathematics.

One might doubt that a legitimate scientist would be so ignorant as to be religious at all, but history is full of scientists and great thinkers with particular religious leanings. Pythagoras, who headed up a cult that worshiped numbers, is an example. Not all religious leanings are the same, though.

As a young seeker and avid learner in college, I encountered religious thought for the first time in a World Religion class. Though my professor described all religions as roads to the top of the same mountain, I saw a difference in one religion and one religious text.

If you listen to Dr. Guillen tell his own story, which he does at various times in his podcast episodes, he saw the same thing. One religion and one religious leader stands out, and one aspect of that difference can be understood with the observation that Guillen makes: God is not an elitist.

We are tempted as human beings to think that truth is something that only the smartest and most clever people are able to figure out. Perhaps, this is why we are fascinated with books like The Da Vinci Code. The less religious among us might say that only those people with privilege, means, and a good education are able to know and understand truth; the rest of us are doomed to ignorance.

My thoughts today are on the former group of people. Guillen challenges the claims of people who believe that the Hebrew Scriptures contain a hidden, numerical code that can be deciphered with the right “key”. Guillen asserts that the truth of the God revealed in the Bible and Jesus, who claimed to be God in the flesh, are not hidden behind a code in the text that needs to be deciphered, and I agree with him.

Going back to my first time reading the Bible in a college world religion class, with very few preconceived notions, I was struck by how much Jesus loved common people and how little regard Jesus seemed to have for the elites in his world. And not just common people, Jesus focused on the marginalized and vulnerable people, the sick, the lame, and the disturbed people who were outcasts in their own communities.

Jesus confronted the wealthy, prideful, and self-righteous religious leaders of his day, but he was kind, patient and loving toward all who came to him humbly and sincerely.

The way Jesus was with children is exemplary of his attitude,. When the disciples tried to quiet children who pushed forward to get near to Jesus one day, Jesus stopped them, and he said, “Let the children come to me!” (Matt. 9:14)

One another occasion, Jesus invited a child to come up to him. As the child stood there, Jesus told the adult crowd, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:2-4)

The clear implication of these examples of what Jesus said is that entering into relationship with God is not difficult. It’s so easy a small child can grasp wat is necessary and know God.

C.S. Lewis was impressed by the same thing in his review of world religions when he was transitioning from atheist to theist to Christian. Lewis observed that, God is creator of all, He would be accessible to all, from the least to the greatest, from the lowest IQ to the highest IQ. God should be knowable by all people if God desires all to be saved, as Jesus said.

In all other world religions, relationship to the Divine, however it might be conceived, requires extraordinary knowledge or effort that is difficult to attain. In other world religions, salvation, enlightenment, reincarnation to a higher form of life, or whatever the end goal is must be achieved with extraordinary human effort or extraordinary knowledge and understanding that only extraordinary human beings achieve.

The eternal life offered in the Bible is a gift that is offered freely to all who will receive it – even a child or a person of low IQ can grasp it.

When it comes to knowledge, like numerology, the claim is that hidden truth is encoded into numbers or letters and words to which numerical values are ascribed. With the right key, we can unlock a metaphysical vault to that hidden truth. Of course, or the brightest and most clever of people are able to discover and make use of that key to the hidden truth.

The allure of numerology is the pride and self-satisfaction associated with figuring it out when most other people are clueless. This is the allure of the occult. It is the allure of elitism, to think we have something that other people do not have.

CS Lewis spoke of the allure of the occult in his own experience. When he came to the conclusion in this late 20’s that materialism was improbable and accepted the reality that life has a metaphysical aspect to it, Lewis was early on drawn to occultist thinking. It appealed to his prideful, elitist nature. He rejected it for those reasons (and others that are not relevant to the subject).

In Paul’s writings, he makes the point that we cannot boast in our knowledge of God or relationship with him, because God specifically chooses to exalt the lowly:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29

This theme of God exalting the humble and opposing he proud can be found from the Psalms and Proverbs of the Old Testament through the writings of Matthew, Luke, Peter, James and Paul in the New Testament. The theme is implicit throughout all of Scripture and the Gospel accounts of Jesus.

It isn’t that God has arbitrarily hidden Himself and obfuscated the message. Rather, He has chosen a message and a way of knowing Him that is not accessible to people who are arrogant, proud, and who think too highly of themselves. God is not knowable by people who are not willing to humble themselves and submit to the God who created them.

Our own American values often run counter to the attitude required to know God. We value the rugged individualist who overcomes by the might of his own will and determination. We value people who “did it my way”.

To be sure, Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God as a treasure buried in a field, or a pearl of great price such that, when found, the seeker would sell all he has to acquire it. (Matt. 13:44-46) The writer of Ecclesiastes says that God put eternity into our hearts, but not so that we would know the beginning from the end. (Eccl. 3:11)

God is indeed “hidden”. God created a world in which people would have to seek him (Acts 17:26-27), but he promised that people who seek with all their hearts will find Him (Jer. 29:13); and those who ask will receive, and those who knock will have to door opened to them. (Matt. 7:7)

The existence of God and the message is hidden to many people. But why?

The Bible is clear also on the reason why God and His message are hidden to so many people, but it isn’t a mystery. It is “hidden” in clear sight!

Paul says that the grace of God toward us is a gift, and no one can earn it so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9) Paul says that God can be clearly perceived from the universe He created (Romans 1:20), but many people don’t see God in the universe because we don’t want to. We don’t want to be beholden to God. We want what WE want.

CS Lewis, admits the desire he had to be left alone to his own devices was a primary reason why he embraced materialism (the idea that only the material universe exists, and there is no god). He viewed God as a being who might interfere with his business, so he gravitated toward a belief system that excluded God.

This desire comes from a selfish and prideful place in the human heart, and we are all susceptible to it. The temptation of the occult comes from the same place: from the prideful and selfish desire to gain hidden knowledge that is not available to others.

The Bible reveals that God opposes those who are proud. We cannot approach God with pride and be embraced by Him. God wants us to come humbly and sincerely, as a child. What God offers us is freely given and must be freely and humbly accepted.

The truth of God is not hidden from those who truly seek Him and desire to know Him. The truth is only hidden to those who don’t really desire to know God for who He is. The truth is hidden to those who are not willing to humble themselves and submit to the reality that we are not captains of our own souls.

God is not an elitist. He accessible freely to everyone who seeks Him and who desire to know Him, to set aside their own thoughts and ambitions, and to “sit at His feet” and learn from Him. We don’t need to find a hidden key or secret decoder ring to ferret out the deepest truths and mysteries of the universe. The deepest truths and mysteries of the universe all reside in God who is knowable from the least to the greatest – if we will only come to Him humbly.

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