I recently had a discussion with some non-believer friends about the question of faith, and the major point under discussion was basically, “What is God’s problem?” That is to say, if God exists, why all the mystery, and why require us to have “faith”, which scripture defines as “being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)? Think of all the strife and division and error that could be eliminated if God would just come down and reveal himself, and make it all perfectly clear.
As a bible-believing Christian, it got me thinking. What could God do? That is, if God were going to “come down and reveal himself”, what are his options? In broad terms, he could either do a one-time thing or an on-going thing.
But in the end, a one-time thing would inevitably fall into the same category as all the revelations already recorded in the bible– it would become a matter of history and, over the course of centuries or millennia, would become debatable. All the historical documents that attest to it would become “religious texts”, and therefore to some people, unreliable, especially if (for convenience), later publishers began adding them into the same volume as our existing collection of “religious texts”, which is known as the bible.
On the other hand, if God did an on-going thing, then that would quickly come to be viewed as part of our universe’s natural operation. Christians often cite the many seemingly miraculous aspects of the universe as it is, but all of them have been described and natural laws have been created to model them, and therefore they are all part of nature. If you fundamentally reject the possibility that God created nature, then anything on-going he does is not to his glory, but rather to the glory of the natural universe.
There is one final possibility, which is that he could live in on-going first-person relationship with humanity, like in the Garden of Eden, but according to the bible, that’s been tried and it didn’t work out because, even under those circumstance, people just couldn’t buy that God really is who he says he is and really means what he says.
This was a problem back in Jesus’ time too, by the way. Luke 16:27-31 records a parable he told that addresses this exact point. To me, the price of humanity having been created with some measure of free will is that, no matter what God does, it will always be a matter of debate. There can never be a “clear” revelation that puts an end to it.