The God I Don’t Understand 2

 

Chris Wright is honest here to say that, despite being a scholar and Bible teacher for many years, he is ‘not embarrassed to say that there are many things I don’t understand about God’.

The corollary of this is however not a lessened faith or increasing doubt that he exists or is good. Rather, Wright says that his love and trust of God have deepened at the same time.

He lists some different forms of ‘not understanding’ things about God:

–          Things that leave him angry or grieved – like evil and suffering

–          Things that are morally disturbing – like the Canaanite genocide

–          Things that are puzzling – why did God do it that way?

–          Things that fill him with gratitude – like the cross

–          Things that fill him with hope – like the new creation

And that it is OK to admit this and live with it rather than pretend or mask genuine questions. The Bible itself is full of people asking such questions.

What sort of questions about God do you have, or hear, most often? The ones I get asked most tend to be more philosophical than biblical and they tend to be the ‘morally disturbing’ or ‘angry at God’ type. These are the sorts of questions that threaten faith. Wright’s other types aren’t really threatening.

–  ‘Why if God knew unimaginable suffering was going to be unleashed, did he bother to create us and our world?’

–  ‘If hell exists would the possibility that one person go there not negate all reason to create in the first place?’

One that I have is of the ‘why this way?’ type – why the long wait for final redemption after the victory of God at the cross and resurrection? Like the first Christians, our cry remains “Marana tha, Come O Lord!” yet it remains unfulfilled.

Wright holds together robust questioning and a deepened faith. This is not easy to do. Is there is a pastoral limit to questioning God?  A limit that when transgressed becomes destructive?

But the opposite can be the case as well. When is it destructive NOT to ask questions about God and faith? And what are the results of such ‘dangerous questioning’ being shut down?

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4 thoughts on “The God I Don’t Understand 2

  1. One thing I always think when I hear a God + time question like yours (why the long wait?) is that it’s kind of nonsensical: if God is eternal, then questions of ‘when’ must be irrelevant, right?

    C.S. Lewis said the thing most like eternity is the present (I think that was somewhere in the Screwtape letters, so maybe it was a character that said it :o), and that seems useful to me.

    So the way I think of it is that from God’s point of view, every moment of each human life overlaps both the instant of the Cross and that of the new creation.

    Uh, never mind me. ;o)

    C.

  2. “every moment of each human life overlaps both the instant of the Cross and that of the new creation.” I like that a lot C.

    My question was not so much from God’s perspective as from a human mortal one. Questions of ‘when’ become pretty relevant since we are like grass that withers and flowers that fade. While there is no answer, I’m struck by the sheer surprise and deliberate unlikelihood of the way God does things. The whole time-frame of the biblical narrative both before and after the cross continually leaves people within that narrative struggling to grasp what is going on from their tiny limited perspective. I’m puzzled wondering what God is up to, maybe just like Jews in the 400 yr inter-testamental period were wondering when or if he was going to turn up again.

  3. Cool. For a wonderfully deranged view of time and the new testament, read “how to build a universe that doesn’t fall apart two days later” by Philip K. Dick (author of the book that got made into ‘Bladerunner’). You can read it at http://deoxy.org/pkd_how2build.htm – it’s long, but like the best of Dick’s work gives you insight into a totally different way of viewing the world.

    C.

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