Maybe having read part 2, you can see that Relationism makes sense but you can’t see why I would bother with God in my bottom line. If we can love our neighbour as we love ourselves and build relational societies of mutual trust, commitment and respect, why should we bother with religion?
I see the existence of God as a brute fact. The brute fact, in fact.
C.S. Lewis said that he believed in Christianity as he believed that the Sun has risen: “not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.” For me, God’s existence makes moral, emotional and philosophical sense of the universe I perceive. And this God, revealed though the person of Jesus loves us, wants the best for us and asks us to respond by loving him. I don’t believe I have the option to cut God out of the picture.
God compels us to love our neighbour.
In the life of Jesus and the teachings of the bible, God provides us with a framework for living a good life which look something like relationism – honesty, care for the poor, justice, freedom, marriage, work, reward and rest, generosity and celebration. If we reject his moral framework we need to come up with our own. Some of these frameworks involve a different kind of God – like Saudi Wahabiism. Others involve no God other than the state like North Korean Juche ideology. Personally, I prefer a form of government with closer relationship to God’s blueprint as revealed in the biblical narrative. I do think that there’s something of this blueprint innate in the human condition. We all know already that the ESL is not the right way to go. I also think we need steering to the right path sometimes. Jesus says ‘If you love me, keep my commands’.
We seem unable to consistently love our neighbour.
We like the idea of building relational societies of mutual trust, commitment and respect. But all the blood, sweat and tears of human centuries have never come close to achieving this. We need outside intervention. – some hope and help from elsewhere. There are plenty of religious interventions on offer. But there’s only one God who, after entering our history, died to take away the stain and penalty of our failure and rose from death to start a new humanity. I choose to love God – not just because he exists, or because he has some great ideas on how to live life, but because Jesus reveals how much God loves me and makes a way for me to start over.
All of which is why I am sticking with loving God as my bottom line. This is the reason why I know loving my neighbour is the right approach and that relationism is a good thing. It’s also why the ESL makes no sense to me.