[This is the third in a series of posts on the American Evangelical relationship with God by T.M. Luhrmann, author of When God Talks Back. For more conversation on this book, visit the Patheos Book Club.]
The hardest thing for a congregant to grasp is that they are loved unconditionally by God. Unconditional love is not part of the human experience after infancy, after the crawling, reaching baby learns that love comes with expectations of right behavior.
At some point in my interviews, as I sat with a teacup in my hand and my taperecorder running on the coffee table, some of the people I was interviewing would start to cry. They did this when they began to describe their relationship with God as something deeply precious, private, special. They seemed to cry because the emotions they felt were so tender, as if they were afraid that if they exposed the relationship to the light it might begin to fade, lose a little of its power, the way the adored fluffy Snoopy of your childhood can seem small and shabby when you find it years later in an attic box. When they cried, they described the moment when they got it—really got it—that God loved them just as they were.
Questions or comments for Dr. Luhrmann about experiencing God? Leave them below and she’ll respond in a video to air at the Book Club later next week.
Also join us for a LIVE CHAT with the author on Friday, April 27, from 2-3 pm at the Patheos Book Club!