“If you understood him, it would not be God.”
― Augustine of Hippo
In my prior post, I talked about my journey of faith over the past decade or so, and the travail of asking hard questions and trying to sift truth from the piles of chaff and man’s religion that have been piled around the person of Jesus and his Body, the church. I put it this way:
“My Journey over the past 10 years has been one of trying to sift through and jettison all the baggage and falsehoods that 20 years of immersion in an acceptance-by-performance religious culture wrought in me. The process has required me to question everything, a process that has been excruciating…”
Indeed it has been excruciating, and not the least because certainty was central to the school of thought where I received my instruction and formal, scriptural education. In the religious culture and spiritual tradition where I grew in my faith, we knew what God meant in the Bible, and we were certain we were right, as a matter of course. In fact, we actually spent a considerable amount of time and effort demonstrating how and why we were right, and how and why everyone else was wrong. Sad to say, for many years I could be a cocky know-it-all with the best of them. It’s taken me a long time and a long journey to recognize what a prideful, arrogant, and well…obnoxious perspective that is, and how telling it is regarding our view of God.
Simply stated, if God is God – and I mean the kind of God the Bible describes and the kind of God who could set in motion and sustain the mind-bendingly vast and complex universe in which we exist – then thinking that I, as a mere mortal, made of dust, could truly comprehend him in his fullness, and say with absolute certainty that we “know” is simply laughable. And it’s embarrassingly prideful.
Now understand, I’m not saying we can’t know anything for sure. That would be absurd, since not only would that statement negate itself, (i.e.”How can I know that I don’t know, if I can’t know that I don’t know? Hmmmm?”) more importantly however, God has revealed himself and told us things, both through his creation (Psalm 19, Rom 1, etc.) and through the Bible. That he is, that he created all that is, that he loves us, that he has a plan, that Jesus is central to that plan, and he has a future in store for us are all things that he’s made clear (among many others). These we can both celebrate and be confident in.
What leads us off into the dingweeds is not certainty about what God has made clear, it’s in transferring our certainty about explicit things God has made clear onto those things which he hasn’t. This is where man’s religion wrests the steering wheel from God’s hands and drives its own road, inevitably ending in error and bondage. Anytime we transfer the same weight of certainty from God’s clear statement onto man-made theological structures regarding the “hows and whens and therefores” of something God has made clear, we’ve gone astray. We love the “therefores”, and it’s been the “therefores” that have especially been the focus of my soul-searching and questioning, because within them lurk the Most Dangerous Ideas that we’ve been discussing; ideas that pass for unquestioned truth simply because they are so prevalent.
I feel confident that the questions I’ve wrestled with, and the journey that I’ve been on is shared by others. And I think that probably the most valuable use of this space and the time I have to write is to discuss the specific things I no longer believe are true, and to discuss why and how I arrived at a place where I was able to change my mind. I recognize how much potential there is for making folks uncomfortable, and maybe even angry and scandalized by taking this journey. I mean, one of the knowns is that if you’re truly a believer, you don’t question or doubt the party line and what you’ve been taught, right?
I truly believe that anything that grows, changes. The very nature of growth demands it. Development of the soul and the growth of a living relationship with God will be no different, due in no small part to God always seeking to call forward to know him more deeply. As we know him more, we will inevitably see ourselves more clearly, which will mean having to come to terms with our own bias, blindness, and weakness.
So, on the road ahead, we’ll be looking at specific ideas, practices, assumptions, theological positions, etc. that I’ve changed my mind about as I’ve deconstructed all I’ve been taught about God and what it means to know and walk with him. It is my sincere hope that in doing so, I might in some small way be a helpful traveling companion for those who are on this journey with me.
Until then, my God’ richest blessing and peace rest upon you.