Jeanine asks Jerry a question that many struggle with: "For those of us who just from the outside look at it and like, why all this obey, obey, obey stuff?"
So, why does God want us to obey?
This philosophical and spiritual conversation between friends will provide inspirational answers that may surprise you and motivate your spiritual journey! Join the discussion that looks at how Jerry's wife, Abigail, responds when she finds out that Jerry has conversations with God. Investigate the process of spiritual transformation and the effort of discerning commands and obedience to God.
The Life Wisdom Project explores lessons and insight from each chapter of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher. From Jerry's conversations with God, the Life Wisdom Project will look at the takeaways from God and the book for everyday living. How can we live better, healthier, happier, and wiser lives?
Meet Dr. Jeanine Diller, professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Toledo. Dr. Diller and Dr. Martin have been friends since working on the Models of God and Alternative Ultimate Realities, a volume by Dr. Diller presenting the various conceptions of ultimate reality that have been advanced over the centuries and present in the world's religions today.
We revisit I Worry What My Wife Will Say, the second episode of the dramatic adaptation of the book, where Creative Director and Host Scott Langdon brings the story to life with his dramatic and vocal talents as Dr. Jerry L. Martin and Dr. Martin reenacts the voice of God as he heard it.
Read God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher.
Begin the dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher
Related Episodes: [Dramatic Adaptation] I Worry What My Wife Will Say [The Life Wisdom Project] Tuning In To God | Special Guest: Dr. Jeanine Diller
Related Content: [Video] How Do You Live With God?
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Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 99.
Scott Langdon [00:01:01] Hello and welcome to Episode 99 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast, and our second edition of our series, The Life Wisdom Project. I'm Scott Langdon. In this episode, Dr. Jerry Martin talks again with Dr. Jeanine Diller, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Toledo about her thoughts, reflections and questions on episode two of our podcast. Adapted from the first two chapters of the book., episode two recounts the lesson of obedience God was giving to Jerry and how important and essential obedience to God truly is as we seek to find peace and purpose in our lives. Remember, you can hear the complete audio adaptation of the book any time by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through Episode 44. We begin with Jerry speaking first. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:00] Well, welcome, Jeanine Diller. Last time we spoke, I don't think I ask anything about yourself and announcing these we give your basic credentials…
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:02:11] Well, my parents are Americans, but they did go to Africa and serve on the mission field for a couple of years before I was born. But they were both very serious about their faith. And I was actually struck by that reading and listening to episode two, because it seemed like you were struggling with the idea of whether you were normal or not?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:37] Right, exactly.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:02:39] That is not a struggle that I would have had. I mean-- I had the philosophical struggles that you mentioned, but whether this happens to a lot of people or not, I grew up with everybody thinking that they were hearing messages from God. It was not like, "Oh, God talked to you?"
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:56] This was not a surprise to you.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:02:58] Like that was kind of something that happened for people around me often.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:05] And I try to tell people it's happening to them, they aren't paying attention, though, it may not come as a voice, and it helps when it comes as a voice.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:03:14] Right. But I think you're right that for many people, it's kind of a nudge.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:18] And I'm told somewhere in God: An Autobiography, God tells me sometimes they come in thoughts that seem like your own, you know?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:03:27] Yes.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:28] People would say, well, I had this thought, but it wasn't me thinking, you know? It's an interesting phenomenon that one has to pay close attention to your experience to kind of figure out- when am I just making stuff up and when is stuff coming in from other sources- a higher source?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:03:51] Yes. And last time we talked about that briefly about the question of spiritual discernment. It's not something I know as much about as I wish I did, but I think it's hugely important for understanding, I guess, the internal forces that we have within us and discern which ones are most to be heeded.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:17] Yes. Yes. And that, I think, will come up recurrently in the course of these life wisdom discussions because it comes up in various contexts and has to be addressed each time in its own terms, you might say.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:04:33] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:34] An ongoing issue for each person's life.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:04:38] Yes. Yes. And something I think we can get better at. I think it's a skill.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:43] Yes. Yes. It certainly- that is certainly the case. I think some lessons for how to get better will also come out in the course of these discussions. Episode two, Jeanine, what struck you?
Scott Langdon [00:05:01] Hello, friends, this is Scott, and I thought this would be the perfect place for a little clip from episode two of our podcast, from the audio adaptation of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, episode number two is the topic of discussion today in our Life Wisdom Project episode. So, here's a little clip from episode number two: I Worry What My Wife Will Say. In this episode, I speak the voice of Jerry and Abigail Rosenthal speaks her own voice.
Dramatic Adaptation: 2. I Worry What My Wife Will Say
Jerry Martin - voiced by Scott Langdon
Abigail Rosenthal- voiced by herself
Jerry Martin [00:05:51] I don't know if Johnson's experience is like mine, but from the day God spoke to me, when I prayed, I almost always received a verbal response, often with significant guidance. At first, it just seemed an oddity that went too much against my agnostic worldview to be taken seriously. I would tell Abigail about these odd experiences. While I always disdained paranormal reports, near-death experiences and the like, she did not. I assumed she put the voice in that category. I didn't really know, because usually she just took in what I told her and didn't say much.
Abigail Rosenthal [00:06:31] “I thought you were engaged in a sensitive communication,”
Jerry Martin [00:06:36] She would later explain,
Abigail Rosenthal [00:06:38] “And I did not want to create static.”
Jerry Martin [00:06:42] Then, one day, she did speak up.
Abigail Rosenthal [00:06:45] “Are you going to take the voice seriously, or is this just entertainment?”
Scott Langdon [00:07:05] That was a clip from episode two of our podcast called I Worry What My Wife Will Say, featuring Abigail Rosenthal, Jerry's wife, speaking her own voice. We return to episode 99. Here's Jeanine once again.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:07:21] Well a few things. The first one was just Abigail and her role in the episode. I started sort of nicknaming her the 'Voice and Silence of Reason' because it seemed like she knew both when to speak and when not to speak. I just think that, for starters, is just a wonderful lesson in life, that there's a time and a place for those things. And she recognized, I think rightly, sort of the power of interference or creating static in someone's own communication with God. I think that that's the thing. I mean, I think that we impact each other's spiritual lives in ways we may not always pick up.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:15] Yes.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:08:15] And that she was right to be concerned about sort of interrupting the conversation at the wrong time.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:26] Yeah, as I reread that, I always reread, we have the text version also posted. People can go see that.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:08:34] Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:35] For, "Listen," and I was struck more this time than I had been any past time precisely the point you're making, Jeanine. And it struck me, well, this occurs to us all the time in life, not just when someone's having a spiritual experience, but one of life's main major challenges is when to speak up and when to be silent. And occasionally a more nuanced thing is how much to say. I find I often will write a long, oh, kind of worried email. I think, wait a minute, what is my main point here? I go back and eliminate a lot of it. They don't need all this clutter, and just say the things I need to say here and now, but when to speak and when to be silent. I thought often in the presence of grief, because there's nothing you can say. There's nothing wrong with saying something. But the, "Oh, look, on the bright side," kind of things are really not helpful. They're unhelpful, and yet my sense is human presence to another person's grief is helpful. So, you don't have to be saying things to offer loving help.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:09:59] Right. Right. Yeah. Some of the times I was grieving, it was just so helpful to have someone just say, I'm so sorry. I see your pain," you know…
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:10] that struck me, and it struck others, which Abigail noticed as saying, "Are you going to take this voice seriously?"
Dr. Jeanine Diller Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin "Or is this just entertainment?" Because I was reporting, "Oh, God said this to me, and God said that to me." And it was like a funny thing happened on the way to the forum, and yet I believed I was making life changes, beginning to make them based on belief that this is God, and this is God kind of going to want me to do something. And I never really doubted the voice. It just had this inner authority. I had thought of it as an epistemologist, but not as a phenomenologist, not as a reader of the experience.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:10:59] Right. That's interesting.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:59] This was the experience, and then she says, and was really almost the crucial turning point--.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:11:06] Yes.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:07] "Are you going to take this seriously?".
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin She noticed I was living a contradiction. I believe it and don't believe it, you know?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:11:19] Yeah. Well, as we are all sort of incoherent messes, right- most of the time. I have both those things happening inside me at once, and that's just life, right? But it was fate. I mean, so I guess that was one thing I wanted to ask you is there were two times in the episode where she actually did decide to speak and the one, you're referencing, the first time. And it seemed to me, if we're going to use the word static to talk about how we impact each other's spiritual lives, that that was good static because it produced a new question that you came to recognize through that contribution that you needed to answer. And it was lovely that you didn't know the answer right away and you didn't pretend to have it right away, and you didn't really want to answer this right away, and that there was throughout the episode, a journey to an answer that involves experience and thought
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:23] But we often kind of feel it in kind of Hallmark card ways with what we should give each other is just empathy in the sense of sympathy and support and, "Oh, yes, yes.".
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin But where we see someone's making a mistake or not facing something, one of the things we owe each other is truth. Truth as we see it, not to browbeat them because what you're seeing may not quite be right, but it's something probably for them to consider. And if you don't say it, and if you just go on, "Yeah. That's wonderful. Yes, yes, yes. I'm on your side." You know, you can even be enabling. You can be supporting bad tendencies of thought or behavior or relationships or whatever.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:13:13] Right. I'm with you. Yeah. And she was a true friend to you.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:18] Yes.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:13:19] When she said that to you. And it didn't seem like it was at all in a judgmental way.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:25] No. No. The crucial distinction, that's an important thing to distinguish, we owe each other judgments. Life consists of making judgments, but it's wrong to be judgmental. Being judgmental is advice and, I don't know, probably require a finer analysis than this, but a key part is ego. If you're saying to be assertive, to get your power over the other person, to push your opinion on to them, then that's the wrong mode. That's the wrong mode. It should be without those things. Just kind of gentle. "Oh, you better watch out."
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:14:08] Yes. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:09] Aren't you living a contradiction. Do you take this seriously?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:14:13] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:14] And she told me to take it seriously. Although the implication is if you believe this is God shouldn't you be acting on that?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:14:26] Right. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:27] Yeah.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:14:28] Yeah. She had the art of offering a judgment in a question form, which is a very soft way, and to do it sort of nonjudgmentally. And I think you're right, the older I get, the more I realize is it's the packaging that matters a lot. Whether something be heard, you know, depends on how it's offered and if it's offered with sort of sincere concern or care for somebody, I think that's when it can be heard. She just had a really gracious way of doing it I thought that was straightforward but kind and clearly out of concern for you and whether your choice was the right one. And it really did seem super productive for you because it sounded like it kept kind of haunting your consciousness, you know, and like- what am I doing?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:28] Sure. I kind of had to think that through. Okay, well, what are the implications here? And that's when I really face this issue and went and read William James, Will To Believe, and so forth, which is itself full of life wisdom.
Dr. Jeanine Diller Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin Times you can't prove either side is God or not God. But choice- it shapes your life.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:15:52] Right. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:53] Because then you're choosing a life. You're not just choosing one belief. God or no God. You're choosing a life, because nobody knows which, and so it put me in that position where I'm going to have to think that through seriously- how do I choose a life? What are the issues that raises? That's not a simple- oh, I like this one. You know, it's not a simple decision. It's a complex decision, and we all want it to be in tune with reality. You don't want it to be- oh, I like the sound of this, but, so, anyway, that's part of the ongoing task there for me that she led me to, her question prompted in me, was really thinking that through.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:16:42] Yes. Yes. And it seems like James, both gave you the resources to know that you are normal in life--
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:16:51] Yes.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:16:51] That people have these things, but also to think through the significance of your doubts about whether this was really an experience of God. And it sounded to me like you came to your own sort of Pascalian Wager, or axiom in principle, where you try to maximize the minimum. You know, where you think of the worst case--
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:17:12] Yes exactly- which could I live with?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:17:16] Do the one as the least worst-case scenario. If I took what you were saying, right, it just seemed like you're going- hey, I think it would be worse to like refuse to hear God and not live out a life purpose if this were God, then it would be to sort of forgo the normalcy, you know? Was that the choice?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:17:41] The whole point of my life, basically. If it's not God and I believe it's God and followed that belief, well, then maybe I end up kind of a fool. Right?
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin Spoil my career, and so forth. Okay, I can live with that, that's kind of-- but if it is God who is calling me for a purpose, and I refuse the purpose then I have blown the whole thing. The meaning of life would be zilch, and I could not accept that consequence. The other thing I think you were going to mention to me was when Abigail decided to speak up again.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:18:21] Right. Right. So, it seemed like the obedience boot camp. It's just so interesting because it started out it sounded like it was the reason it wasn't serious when you were responding earlier on was that there was nothing at stake. And so, you know, you were saying, well, so I might be, you know, I need to sit in a different chair, or I need to change the radio stations.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:18:43] What is it to me?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:18:43] Stop eating breakfast. I mean, these things are things and they're not nothing, but they aren't grave or momentous in any way. And then the first one that I heard you saying was kind of had like an obedience boot camp command that had something at stake was the one about the grant where you were supposed to go to work and write this grant proposal, and then you got the message, "Don't go to work." And you're like, "God, don't you know about the proposal?" And God's like, "Of course I do. I know everything." And so, and then you're like, okay, well then, I'll just go home, and you meant it, and start back.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:23] Yeah, I went to the car and turned on the ignition to go home.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:19:26] And then God kind of like in the Abraham slaying Isaac kind of case, it's like, "Okay, I can see you mean it. So, you can go ahead and not do that and you can go back to work." Right? You can go ahead and not slay your son- as the Abraham case, which is way more at stake. Right? Or you can go ahead and not, you know, not not go to work, which means you get to go.
Scott Langdon [00:19:53] Hello, friends, it’s Scott again. Time for a second clip from episode number two: I Worry What My Wife Will Say. In this clip, Abigail speaks up again, this time asking Jerry a more pointed question.
Dramatic Adaptation: 2. I Worry What My Wife Will Say
Jerry Martin - voiced by Scott Langdon
Abigail Rosenthal- voiced by herself
Jerry Martin I remember that incident because something was at stake, but usually I was told to do something trivial, such as listen to a different radio station or sit in a different chair. As these arbitrary commands continued--mounted as it seemed--Abigail expressed concern. This sounded more like boot camp than spiritual guidance.
Abigail Rosenthal [00:20:36] Maybe you shouldn't do everything you’re told? Maybe you should use your intelligence.
Jerry Martin [00:20:44] I was puzzled. Was I supposed to second-guess God?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:21:12] To me, that was a really interesting part of the episode where you kind of showed what you meant by taking it seriously, which means obeying even when there's something important to you at stake.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:24] Yes.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:21:25] And then I was struck by the fact that that's I mean, Abigail, in a way, in the first comment, was telling you to maybe consider taking it seriously. But in the second comment, when you started to, she was kind of like, wait a minute.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:41] Wait a minute! This just sounds kind of crazy, just needless demands one after another.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:21:48] I don't know, and it would be interesting to know if you know whether when she said, "Maybe you shouldn't take it all seriously, maybe you should use your intelligence." She was thinking maybe he has schizophrenia. I mean, like maybe he's going to get some really weird jump off the bridge commands… Anyway, I guess I was wondering if you know about why she said that to you.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:15] In fact, she felt, after I heard the God voice and started living more and more by it, other than these boot camp experiences, she felt I was, in her language, I was more normal. When she first met me, we fell in love, I was Godless. I had no spiritual dimension. I always had a fairly high ceiling because I never was an atheist or materialist or something like that.
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin Sort of a high ceiling humanist type guy. But still, to her something important was missing. And so, I kind of felt a somewhat incomplete human being, therefore an incomplete partner.
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin In the spiritual dimension of life. She never said much about that. You think this might have been an influence on me, but she did not share her full dimension of spirituality with me. Spare me to offer, but you know, what would be the point? She said, "I thought I was going to have to carry the spiritual burden for both of us." And once I heard the voice, "Oh good, I have a partner in life." So, she never had those worries. I didn't have them seriously, it just seemed so obvious that I'm a sane guy. If I was sane for all those years before, I was still sane, and I took it seriously. Looked in the manual of psychiatric disorders where they say hearing a voice- that's schizophrenia. Well, then Socrates was schizophrenic and all the biblical characters and–
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:24:05] Yeah, okay.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:24:07] And Joan of Arc, and so forth, they're all schizo-- Well, that doesn't seem plausible. So, she did not have that worry. Nevertheless, she seemed to think. Oh, well-- this is an important thing about all spiritual experience I think, we have to take them as whole people, you know, whole human beings, which does include our intelligence and the other aspects of our life. It's why I don't jump off a bridge and so forth.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:24:33] Right. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:24:34] So you normally do need to also use your intelligence to sort off this and to if you feel like got a spiritual message that might be some whole new career or something, well, you're going to have to go through the practical steps. Is there a way to work this out? What about the income? Do I have the training for it? Is there the infrastructure support, you know, institutional support for this? You've got to think through those things. I assume some of that was what she was thinking. Well, wait a minute. We don't want to leave your intelligence behind and now you're just a voice and you're just jumping to whatever and stupid thing the voice is saying.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:25:16] Yeah, it actually reminds me of something my father told me about his mother and father. So, these are my grandparents, where apparently my grandmother would say, "Well, we just have to wait and see what God will do. I have faith." And my grandfather would say, "Well, we can do that, but also, God gave me two hands and a mind, and I'm going to start using them."
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:46] Yes! Yes!
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:25:47] So part of what you're saying and what Abigail might be saying is, we do have God given gifts that are supposed to be put to use kind of in concert with the messages that we're receiving from God if we are receiving any. That it's a package deal and we're supposed to kind of live the package, which is an interesting thought. But I guess what I kind of wondered, after she said it, it seems like you were led to these passages in Calvin, which is fascinating in and of itself--.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:26] I never liked the sound of Calvin. He always sounded kind of harsh and scary to me at first. Of course, I knew nothing and so this was, I guess, a cartoonish understanding. But yeah, I was led to Calvin, of all things.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:26:36] And Calvin did not agree with Abigail.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:38] No, no. God says it you'll go do it.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:26:43] Right and do it wholeheartedly, and don't think about it. The message is the message, and you go do the message whether it makes sense to you or not. And so I kind of wondered if the moral of the story of the Calvin thing was that, you know, Abigail, even though, again, I think she was completely motivated out of concern for you and out of her best spiritual judgment, maybe ended up giving you advice that God didn't want you to heed, and whether that's bad static or whether that's just, you know-- I don't know. That was my thought. I couldn't quite understand the moral of that story in terms of the static question. Should she not have said that or was it okay for her to say that and God was just saying His final word about the conversation that it was good to happen or what do you think?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:37] Yeah, that's a good question. I didn't-- I never took it that this was wrong for her to say.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:27:43] Okay.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:45] It's a, you know, she said it as a statement, but it's really a question, "Shouldn't you use intelligence?"
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin And not just jump to what pops into your head.
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin And that seemed like a perfectly good question, that I took seriously, and then was led, like by a dozer stick, took me to this book, that I would not have bought on my own. And answers it quite precisely. It's a lot like what a guy like Moses went through. He's taught you Moses, who are now cast. In fact, you ran away because you murdered somebody, and so you're a wanted man.
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin And you're supposed to go to the most powerful ruler in the world and tell him, I've forgotten the exact thing, but I think it's basically, let the people go.
Dr. Jeanine Diller Right, yes.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:28:08] Let the people go, and this is- what? And he said, "I can't even speak well, you know, I've the sense of- Are you kidding? It happens more than once. The boy Samuel is called to be the next prophet, and I'm just wait! I'm like only twelve years old! What are you talking about? This happens over and over to these people who called. It just seems impossible. Well, no, no. And I was given things that were perfectly possible to do--.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:29:14] Right. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:29:15] But anyway, it's always a question. And I think the way you formulated the message, Jeanine, is a good one, that we're whole people and we need to bring our intelligence to bear with our spiritual life, and in fact, the more I've thought about this, the more I think, you know, we do ourselves something of a disservice by separating out all these different aspects- our reason from our emotions, and our desires, and from our beliefs and our spiritual life, from our intellectual life. As though our intellectual life is always on an inquisition against belief, against faith. But we're whole people.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:30:01] Right. I mean, that totally makes sense to me, but again, it seems out of step with the verses that Calvin talked about. I guess I was struck by one.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:30:11] That’s true.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:30:13] I mean, the one in particular that really caught my eye, which I actually looked for and couldn't find and meant to go back to look for again was somewhere in John eight or nine where I think it said, "I do nothing on my own." Jesus, Jesus said, "I do nothing on my own." And I thought-- I guess I thought about the obedience boot camp, and this is maybe going to be understood differently in Jesus' case by different people, especially if you think Jesus just is God, but on the obedience boot camp, it seems like in your case there was this progression of sort of non-serious requests that you sort of passed the test and answered enough for Him to sort of make the test harder and start to give you serious requests. Right? And you started to answer those and continue to do that where things are at stake that matter to you greatly, but what Jesus seems to be saying-- so that I guess what I saw was like an increase in the seriousness of the requests that were being asked of you. But there's this other sort of progression that might have happened, which is an increase in the sort of numbers of requests per day kind of thing.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:31:29] Right.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:31:31] And I think, what I hear-- there's this saying in the Evangelical circles that I grew up in that you should pray without ceasing. And I actually think my father did that. And what that might mean is that there's request without ceasing. So, in addition to the seriousness, the sort of frequency of these requests could be constant, in other words. And I wondered if what Jesus meant when he said, "I do nothing on my own," is that frankly, like anything I'm doing is in touch with God to the point where it's either requested or OK. You know, it could be that I'm doing a direct request at every moment, or it could be that I'm in touch and knowing that what I'm doing is in step with what God wants. And, so it was sort of the yeah, I guess just the frequency with which Jesus seems to be saying he's hearing from God so much that he does absolutely nothing without being in touch with God about it. That is what struck me by that. And that is-- and it sounds like the idea is and every time I'm in touch with God, I'm doing what God tells me to, and that doesn't talk about- let's use our intelligence in the whole fabric of our being.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:32:56] Right.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:32:56] Oh, we're just like, you know, responding and doing what God says. Like we're almost becoming God's hands on Earth. And so, yeah, I guess, what do you think of that? I mean, is it intention with this other idea that seems more sort of reasonable, that Abigail's voicing and that my grandfather was voicing? Is He more on my grandmother's side, and just like skip the rest of that stuff and it's just really all about faith in God and doing what God says all the time. I mean, what do you think?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:29] And I also was thinking of Paul saying, "It's not me, it's Christ in me.". Which is divine infusion, the kind of senses of acting, and that fits with the people I was talking about that I hear from. He said, "Well, I had some thoughts, but it wasn't like my thoughts." You know? "They came into me." That's confirmed in my prayers. So, I guess the way I interpret this is a little less to stop at this moment as though this was a definitive answer. You know, Calvin's just do it all, but then I learned (a) the lesson of obedience, and this, you might say, concluded that lesson. I learned the lesson of obedience.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:34:22] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:23] Once you kind of learn it, you can then move on as a whole person. I think that's sort of what I did because I continue to explore and a question. I often continue to argue with God. Sometimes being persuaded by God's answers, sometimes not. But, where I wasn't, I just said, "Well, let's move on sometime later." And maybe get a different answer or get the same answer and God get sometimes-- gets kind of frustrated. As though I've got a thick head. I'll get through it sometime, and told to think like the logician- either/or, but think both/and. Which for a logic professor, is a difficult category, concept.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:35:14] You know, I just I guess I'm struck by the fact that God really wants us to be obedient, and I don't totally get it. Like why does God need or want that from us so much?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:31] Yes. Yes. Well, there's got to be a whole backstory there. And a part of it- this comes up later and so we'll have a chance to discuss it in another episode, but obedience includes the transformation of the soul, includes the return of the soul to use platonic terms, all of the soul from the spiritual transformation. I mean, what is spirituality? What is religion about? It's ultimately about a transformation of the person. And obedience is the key to that transformation. Maybe it comes from other ways, but certainly, that's what I was told and fits with my story. Had I been resistant or constantly refusing, well, that doesn't make sense to me, you know. Therefore, I'm going to use refuse. I don't think I would have been very transformed by it. You know, when you refuse, what are you doing? Well, you might say my old self is refusing and I'm deciding to be my old self. You know, so you have that guy in the Gospels who wants to follow Jesus and Jesus says, "Oh, yeah, give away all your money." Oh, well, never mind. So, okay, he chose to be his old self. He kind of thought, he liked the idea of being the new Jesus follower, but now he's going to have to give up his lifestyle.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:37:18] Right. Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:37:20] I think that's one element of it, the other big one that again comes up, it's a bit here perhaps, but it comes up more later episodes is- we're God's partners. We're God's partners in this, and we're not going to be very good partners if we're constantly refusing because God is the lead, you know? And I am sometimes kind of irritated because the schools sometimes tell everyone, be a leader, be a leader, be a leader. But one of the great talents in life is to be a good follower. And no organization works if every person's trying to be the leader. In fact, what was this encounter that his unruly crew and exodus. And good followership, it involves, of course, the discrimination of who is a good leader to follow. But the good followers, the one who chooses the right person to follow in a situation, is a good follower, which can include raising credible questions, whatever. But it mainly means once we all decide we're going to have the picnic on Friday of the park, then get picnic stuff to the park on Friday. Otherwise, nothing's going to happen, right?
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:38:46] On Friday at the park. Right. Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:38:47] You can go have your own picnic somewhere else, but everybody else is at the park.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:38:55] Right. So, you just gave me two reasons to think that God, why God cares about obedience. And number one, if I heard you right, you said we two are involved in our transformation, but I think what you really mean is it causes our transformation. Like that the process of obeying this voice caused in you a transformation from- I did it my way to I do it God's way. Right?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:39:19] My main prayer that I say all the time ends with, "Thy will be done." Most people pray, "My will be done." You know, God please save my grandmother, please get me this better job, whatever. That's 'my will be done,' but the personal prayer is, 'Thy will be done.' And then that transforms us. And it also enables us to be God's partners.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:39:48] Right. But it's like what Jesus was saying is, "Hey, could my will be Your will, please?"
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:39:56] Yeah. my mother used to pray this way, she was not at all a sophisticated person, so I was quite impressed when her health had been so very bad for so long, she was in such suffering- "My God, please take me. Take me from this life." But she added, "Unless you have some reason, some purpose in keeping me." And I thought, that's a very good prayer. More misery-- and yet, only if it fits God's plans or whatever.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:40:34] Right. Well, and the second thing that obedience is about is like, hey- it's really not about you. There's this larger project of bringing the earth to a state of flourishing.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:40:45] Yes.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:40:45] That God is engaged in, and this is the symphony, and you're playing the second chair violin right now, and I need you to play the note. And if you do that, things are going to go, you know, things are going to go better. The plan will start to be realized, and so that's the second reason to be obedient. For those of us who just from the outside look at it and like, why all this obey, obey, obey stuff?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:41:13] Yes.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:41:14] There's a couple of good reasons why that you've just offered, so that's helpful.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:41:21] You know, for a long time, we're big into autonomy. You know, be my own self, live my own life, do it my way, I got to do it my way, as the song said. Or I did it my way. But, so it kind of rubs against themes of liberation, of autonomy, of self.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:41:40] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:41:41] Determination, self-creation.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:41:44] Well, and it's-- there's just a fact that God created individuals as individuals for a reason. So, my guess is that the kinds of things God is asking you to do would be different than the kinds of things God is asking me to do, and that's just because we're different people in different places. And that's helpful for the overall project in some way that we can't quite get. But I guess what I'm saying is maybe some of the stuff regarding, at least regarding individuality does not have to be lost on a view that you should obey the voice.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin I don't think so.
Dr. Jeanine Diller There is definitely a push against autonomy because instead of listening to yourself, you're listening to God. But interestingly, to hearken back to the start of the conversation, if Abigail is right that you're kind of more yourself while you're listening to God.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:42:39] Yes.
Dr. Jeanine Diller [00:42:39] Then maybe, as Jesus said, you know-- sorry, all my Christian training is coming up here. You know, you kind of find yourself by losing yourself in God's commands.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:42:49] Yes. Good, good, good statement.
Scott Langdon [00:43:03] Thank you for listening. To God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, available now at Amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at email@example.com and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.