The Art of Theology: Not Putting God in Your Box
devotional thought of the day:
1 Then Job answered the LORD. 2 Job I know, LORD, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want. 3 You ask how I dare question your wisdom when I am so very ignorant. I talked about things I did not understand, about marvels too great for me to know. 4 You told me to listen while you spoke and to try to answer your questions. 5 In the past I knew only what others had told me, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 6 So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6 (TEV)
272 If you are sensible and humble, you will have realised that one never stops learning… This happens in every field; even the wisest will always have something to learn, until the end of their lives; if they don’t, they cease to be wise. (1)
I am a pastor, that means to a certain point, I have been trained as a theologian. If you look at my libraries, you will see a few thousand volumes of books. The hardbacks I have read through, the digital ones, well – there are too many, but I source many of them each week in sermon preparation. Usually I skim maybe 20% of the 100-1500 hits I research, looking for various things to help prepare a message. I probably choose 10-20 to copy and paste and dwell through each week.
Been doing this for a while now, actually changed denominations once, have my favorite authors ( Luther, Escriva, Oden, Ratzinger, Willimon, Melancthon, Walther, Pieper, Augustine, Fracnis De Sales, Robert Webber ) It is somewhat an eclectic list, with guys from different times, different backgrounds. Which leads me to my point. I
We can’t put God in our Box.
We have to take Him as He reveals Himself, even if we don’t necessarily like His methods, His rules, His ways. We can’t say they are wrong simply because we don’t like them. Nor can we say with integrity that He didn’t really mean “that”. Yet to often we do, unaware that pride is causing us to shatter the first commandment.
Over the years, others have done fine jobs summarizing the faith. The three creeds that are held by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches ( The Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian) are good. I am particularly fond of others, the Augsburg Confession and Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and Luther’s Catechisms for example. Pieper has done a masterpiece of theology, so has Thomas Oden never mind Luther and Augustine. But I can’t remember ever page, every question and answer of these theological giants. My expectation is neither can they! They couldn’t in a couple thousand pages describe everything about God, they couldn’t out-Bible the Bible. They wrote great things… yet, it is still the observation of men, not equal to scripture.
That is what Job realized at the end of the book that bears his name. (as did his friends…) It is what Josemaria Escriva talks about, in a section on humility (not, incidentally, on wisdom!)
A wise man once said that, “A man’s got to know his limitations…” Another, Socrates was considered to be the wisest man of his time. His response to being told this was something like this, “it is only because I realize how much I don’t know.” A good theologian talks where there is definite scriptural support – and struggles with that which contradicts his logix, because It is God’s word, God’s reasoning that trumps ours. Even when it doesn’t seem logical, or fair.
Yesterday’s blog was about walking humbly with God, about keeping our eyes on Him, about sometimes that humility is only found in the midst of great sorrow. Today’s is similar, our wisdom comes, not from what we know about God, but that we realize we are not omniscient, that His word trumps our logic. That there is a reason why He is God, that He is our Lord, our Savior, our Benefactor, and we are simply…. His kids.
So give up, for a day or two, putting God in your box…. let Him instead bring you into His glory….
Lord Have Mercy!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1337-1340). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.