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Oklahoma Christian alumnus addresses the reality of God’s absence

David Bowden, Oklahoma Christian alumnus, spoken word poet and now author, spoke in chapel Monday Sept. 26. During his chapel talk, Bowden addressed the topic of his new book, God’s absence in Christian lives.

Bowden graduated from Oklahoma Christian in 2010 with a degree in Biblical studies. Since graduation, Bowden has practiced spoken word poetry, performing at various Christian youth gatherings such as Winterfest, and recently completed his first book, “When God Isn’t There.”

According to Bowden, “When God Isn’t There” addresses the reality of God’s absence and how Christians can live in it instead of denying its existence.

“The entire existence of a Christian is one of absence,” Bowden said. “We need to learn to lean into that and understand that God’s not with us the way we want him to be right now.”

Bowden said his inspiration for the book came while he was ministering in the Philippines in 2011. While working as a missionary, Bowden read John 6. The passage describes how after Jesus fed a group of 5,000, the people tried to make him their king, but Jesus responded by withdrawing to the mountains.

“I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me,” Bowden said. “When we try to make Jesus into something he is not, does he withdraw from us?”

Bowden’s experience in the Philippines led to a five-year study of God’s withdrawal and absence in Scripture.

Bowden said it is important for Christians to understand the absence of God because it will help them to develop their faith.

“I feel like as a church we often equate God’s absence with being a bad Christian instead of saying maybe God uses absence to make us a better Christian,” Bowden said. “I think the Bible talks a lot more about God’s absence than we talk about as Christians.”

According to Bowden, every Christian will deal with God’s absence at some point on their faith journey.

“If you haven’t dealt with it now, or yet, you will deal with God’s absence in your life,” Bowden said. “Being equipped and ready for it now is going to move into it. I encourage everyone, whether you feel absence or have felt absence, or haven’t yet, you’re going to need to sure up your theology on God’s absence.”

Senior Kelci Welch works with Bowden as his social media and marketing coordinator.

“He is a very spiritual and knowledgeable person,” Welch said. “I think that he has a lot of depth to him, and it’s just been really cool working with him alongside the book release and also marketing himself and his brand.”

Welch said the subject of God’s absence is something she has faced.

“I know something even I personally struggled with is feeling like God is distant and how to decipher that and learning to interpret the Scripture in what it actually means when God is absent,” Welch said.

According to Welch, it is important for Christian college students specifically to understand the nature of God’s absence.

“When you leave the umbrella of your parents’ faith, I think that you go on your own and you expect your faith to still be there and be as strong as it was,” Welch said. “That’s not to say that it isn’t, but I think you go through this growing period, especially in the first few years of college, where you have to find Him on your own.”

“When God Isn’t There” is available for purchase starting Oct. 11. For more information on Bowden and his book release visit his website.

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