‘I’d known him all my life, and then one day I learned his name’ – do you know the author of this quote? I’d like to interview them. I recall coming across it in an article or book more than 20 years ago, but can’t find it in a search. That author included the quote, which they said was a statement made by a Chinese girl when asked about her conversion experience, in commentary on how people come to know God and develop a relationship with him.
The Psalmist observed that the truth of God is plain to everyone, even without knowledge of the Law or the Gospel:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Psalms 19:1-3
And in the New Testament, Paul made a similar observation:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20
Personally, I’m of the view that God’s grace extends to those who not only do not know God, but are in active rebellion. The argument falls short that ‘cuz the Bible says we are damned to Hell if we don’t believe or do X, we will be damned to hell if we don’t’. People support these beliefs and claims by cherry-picking from the Bible, not by studying the life and morals of Jesus, who prayed that his father forgive us cuz we humans don’t know what the fuck on Earth we’re doing.
The Bible can be used to ‘prove’ just about any theological claim, and it has been used to justify some of the worst abuses of humankind, in contradiction of the Word of Love in the Bible, as well as the highest and best qualities in all religions, including Atheism. And the grace and love of God extends even to these.
But more interesting than Paul’s view in Romans is the Chinese girl’s direct experience. She knew in her heart the reality of God’s loving nature, before she ever heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When she heard the Gospel, she recognized the voice of the God she’d loved all her life.
This reflects my own experience, growing up in the U.S. where I had been exposed to info about Jesus my whole life. I found the claims and words of Jesus interesting, but the words and behavior of Christians to be mostly anywhere from absurd and uninteresting, to awful and even evil. When one day I decided to read the Gospels and the Old Testament for myself, it blew me away.
I realized that while the witnesses to Jesus may have gotten some things wrong, these accounts were written by people who saw, heard and felt Jesus (or by people close to them), who were convinced of the basic and fundamental truth of what they were communicating, and that they weren’t wrong about their experience. I also recognized the words, character, life and actions of the mind and being that must be the source of this existence.
The mind and being I’d known all my life as the Creator of all universes had been humbly born and walked the Earth, teaching and sacrificing for us. And this after a thousand years of calling and shaping the nation of Israel, sending prophets to call people to righteousness and proclaiming that a Messiah would come to save us, cuz humans alone, though we think highly of ourselves and our science, will not get to the truth of God and Love and Being, without God and Love and Being.