Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mystery and Problem

Steve Holmes has written an interesting post on theology and the difference between mystery and problem.

He proposes that the most interesting theological questions are all mysteries and that we shouldn't expect answers.  So a mystery can never be solved.  There are ways we can explore the mystery, and in doing so think a bit clearer about it, but we will never have a final answer or a solution.

A problem has a final answer, and so the need to search for the answer is important and needed.

I like this because I think it is really important that when we are talking about God and exploring who He is, we must never think of Him as a problem to be solved, that somehow or other if we study hard enough, think for long enough or shout loud enough, we will have the God 'problem' sorted.

It is fascinating that in the 'new' atheism movement (which is running on empty now), and in areas of the Evangelical tradition of which I am a part, there has been this very error of turning God into a problem that needs an answer.  To often I hear of sermons and books that turn theology into an exercise of question answering.  It is this misguided belief that we can have all the answers and that mystery is wrong.  Theology then often simply becomes anthropological (the study of humanity or ourselves) and completely misses the mark.

God is mystery.

Trinity is the language we use to faithfully name the God who has been revealed in the Gospel Story.  Trinity helps us think a bit more clearly about who God is, but it is not an answer to a question or a solution to a problem.  Indeed, when we begin to explore further who God is as Father, Son and Spirit, we are left with more questions and the mystery grows.

Christianity is not an 'answer', but an invitation into the life of God, to know Him and be known.

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