Last night I suggested that maybe Quakers have something to offer to the conversation about the real presence of God in our midst. We had a chance to write down questions to ask Miroslav today, and mine got asked: Is there space for us to relate with God, on a deeper level than just entering the story? I understand that we will hear it and think about it in our culturally conditioned ways, but is there room for a real encounter with God?
His answer was great: a resounding yes! Every breath we take is from God. Life itself is a gift, and God is present with us all the time. We can experience God directly, unencumbered by culture. Yes, we receive it, unmediated. Can we respond to God in faith without it being mediated by our culture’s values and norms? A resounding NO. Every word we speak is shaped by the cultures that have shaped us.
I was glad for that answer, because a lot of the conversations that AJ, Kathy, Steve and I had with others at the conference seemed to leave out the idea of direct encounter with God. It was good to hear Miroslav affirm it heartily in the gathering. His answer also means that there’s room in the wider theological world for Robert Barclay’s Quaker idea of unmediated revelation, the experience of God directly. We have to use extreme caution in how we are able to articulate that revelation from God, but it is a real experience.