One criticism of Christianity generally goes like this:
If God is omnipotent and can overcome even death, why does he not reveal himself to us? If he does exist and does not reveal himself, is that not cruel? And if he is there but cannot reveal himself, is he then not limited and is therefore a god unworthy of worship? Critics then come to a conclusion that either God does not exist, or he is not a god who demands much attention.
In short, it is often asked why God does not reveal himself in all power in an overwhelmingly persuasive way. That is, why does he allow ambiguity and leave it to an individual choice of faith and reasoning?
If anyone has been an academic or has tried to understand the basics of how to teach another human being, they realize that in order for students to truly progress, they cannot be told what to think, but must be shown how to think for themselves. The best professors don’t bludgeon their students with demonstrations of their intellectual prowess in support of their own conclusions, but direct the students to study the available course materials, consider the evidence they encounter in lectures, struggle through their experience with any particular concept, and then reach a conclusion. He allows them the intellectual freedom to do so–what we might call liberty.
The act of searching out answers then becomes a formative factor in a student’s future abilities to be constructive in the face of uncertainty. When the student then reaches the same conclusion as the teacher, a deeper sense of trust in the method and in the professor’s mentorship becomes the result. When ambiguities arise further in the student’s life, they then are well-equipped with the ability to cope.
So it is with our spiritual lives. In my faith, we believe in the inspiration (though not the inerrant nature) of scripture and in modern prophets (such as Moses). We believe in personal revelation through the instrumentation of the Holy Ghost.
One core purpose in life is to study the available materials (scriptures), synthesize what we hear in the lectures (the words of the prophets), and review our lecture notes (our own experiences with the Spirit), and do our own homework (making decisions and viewing the results) in the hopes of reaching the same conclusion as the Master Teacher. When we do come to that conclusion on our own, we begin to trust in Him and in the methods of prayer, study, and faith. When ambiguities arise in life, we are then equipped to faithfully cope. Some students study more than others. It is incumbent upon us to be the students who study deeply.
In the eternities, ambiguities arise as well. God deals with disappointment too. I’m sure he has had his fair share of disappointments in us. Luckily, he has mastered the art of patient teaching.
But when we become the teachers, we will know how it’s done and how to place our trust in our students. Developing such skills now lends itself to our benefit–even that far into the future.
God knows that. God can reveal himself when he wants as he is still omnipotent. He is not limited to our postmodern sense of entitlement. His choice to remain unseen most of the time is not a show of callousness, but a teaching technique designed for our long-term interests, upon which he is always focused.
What more could we ask of a teacher?