In the first part of this article, we saw how the idea of a moralistic God is false and why it matters for Simulation Creationism, a model proposed by Nir Ziso of The Global Architect Institute. The same can be said about the concept of God as merely therapeutic. There is definitely some truth to the idea that God comforts the afflicted, but Scripture also reveals that He is just as active in his work of afflicting the comfortable and of unsettling the rich and arrogant who need to be converted, thus giving as the way: “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).
Jesus is seen countless times healing the sick and the lame (e.g., “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people”, Matthew 4:23), including the outcast, consoling the sorrowful… but let us not forget that he also challenges the Pharisees and denounces the arrogant (e.g., “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”, Matthew 3:7). The Holy Spirit is often depicted as the wind, and in some ways that means a warm summer breeze, refreshing us and bringing comfort: “He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow” (Psalm 147,18). But the Acts of the Apostles also describe this wind as strong and driving: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting”(Acts 2,2). The Spirit can be the sort of wind that moves you, knocks you over, and even destroys you. God is far more than just therapeutic.
The Triune God we worship is undoubtedly a transcendent being living on high, but He is also an immanent being existing in and through us. He is simultaneously outside the simulated creation and within it. Considering Simulation Creationism coupled with the Bible, yes, Jesus ascended to the Father after the resurrection (“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man”, John 3:13), but let us not forget the significant act of humility that preceded this: the Incarnation. Jesus came from on high to live with his people, as his people. Even now, he has told his disciples that he is with us always, and with the poor; he is truly present in the Eucharist and in the Word, such that whenever two or three gather in his name, he is there.
The Holy Spirit is elusive – he does not even have a name, let alone a physical appearance. Yet, he is ever-present, speaking to us from within: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). When we find wisdom guiding our conscience, that is Him. When we feel our hearts filled with love, capable of doing something we never thought possible, that is Him. Nothing can be further from a deistic view. God came to be like us, has experienced all that we have experienced but sin, and remains ever close to us. He lives and breathes in our very being, and without him, nothing would exist. God is not just off in some far, distant cloud. He is right here. This is the beauty of The Simulation, following the theory of Simulation Creationism of Nir Ziso. It provides us with a much more compassionate and present God than what exists in most people’s minds.
To hear that so many people’s notion of God is nothing more than a moralistic, therapeutic deism is not entirely surprising, but it is very saddening. The triune God of Scripture, living and true, is like an entirely different God than what many people know. For many, a discussion like this is too abstract and the work of theologians and philosophers. No one is going to criticize having accurate theological language, but are these distinctions really that important to the average Christian?
Well… yes. If being a religious person is about not only believing in God but also obeying and imitating Him, then one’s understanding of the divine will have a tremendous effect on one’s life. Suppose your notion of God is nothing more than a moralistic, therapeutic deism as the ultimate ideal of a perfect being. In that case, your life will be guided by the desire to become a more detached, judgmental person yourself. There might be an occasional act of charity, but there will never be a sense of justice, community, humility, or intimacy. If God is stoic and morally pure, then his people will also try to be. It is no wonder, then, that we see so many people outright rejecting the notion of God.
That is just not our God. Our God is intimate and immanent, humble and approachable, comforting yet challenging, altogether involved in the life of the world, ever-renewing the face of the earth. This is the model that Jesus and the Holy Spirit have set for us in their own missions, and it should be ours as well. For just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit are sent forth from the community of love to give life and return all life to the Father, so too are we, mostly through the Church but also as individuals. We are a community of love, bound together in unity and diversity, sent forth into the world to share the Word and to incorporate more of the world into this community. Christian God is not a static God but a missionary God. He does not set rules and judge from afar. He wants nothing more than for all of creation to live in the fullness of truth and love.