Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Theological Diversity as Evidence of God?

I have seen God in different ways throughout my life. Some have been erroneous but most of my thoughts about God and His very essence have been accurate...and very different from one another.

For example, I have often identified of the God that shows up in Joshua 7. This God gave some strict rules to his people and when Achan deviated from it, God only turned his anger from Israel after Joshua ordered that people take Achan, his entire family and even his animals out, stone them to death and then burn their remains. That's a God of discipline and a God of predictability...don't screw with God!

At other times I identified more so with the God revealed in the actions of Jesus when the woman was caught in adultery (something I wrote about and posted a few days ago). The "right" thing to do according to scripture itself was to stone this whore. This woman had brought shame on herself and should be killed...but Jesus had other ideas. Her life, and presumably her soul, were saved through the mercy, grace and goodness of God.

So God is a God or order, laws and holiness. Yet God is a God or mercy, grace, love and compassion. John 1 says that Jesus was God in the flesh and that he was "full of grace and truth". So which is it?

Isn't it strange that some denominations are known for a more strict moral code (please don't confuse morality with Godliness, but that's a post for another day) while others are known for a more compassionate approach to people? How much fighting has taken place in the name of doctrine? Do we not often pretend that our views of God are mutually exclusive with any other view of God and therefore have to fight like hell to prove how right we are, how good our doctrine is or how correct our Biblical interpretation happens to be?

I am increasingly convinced that we are all wrong and all right...to some degree. We are all wrong if we conclude with any degree of certainty to have a comprehensive understanding of God. I also think we are all right when we base our views on Biblical text. The amazing aspect of God is that He is so huge and so complex that to assume any single view can accurately encompass God is blasphemy. Of course God is holy, righteous and omnipotent...among other things. My thought though is that my ideas of holiness falls short. My attempts at righteousness and understanding righteousness is laughable. My theology of God's ominpotence is lacking beyond belief.

For some, this idea of ambiguity will cause you some anxiety. Humans have some innate drive to completely understand, label and define. Take heart though. Ambiguity was anticipated by God and I think He is cool with it. I think God, like us all, enjoys a good game of hide and seek. I think God enjoys being a mystery and enjoys our attempts to search his depths. He knows we will never explore Him completely or know Him comprehensively...but as long as we are focused on Him I think He honors that with allowing us to know Him to the degree we can and to be blessed beyond belief with the theological crumbs and idealistic scraps that fall from His amazing abundance. But that's just my opinion...and we all have them. So celebrate our diversity in theology and cherish the fact that we serve a God who is too large to be contained. If the grave couldn't hold him, my feeble mind doesn't stand a chance.

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