God is mysterious.
Through conversation after conversation and class after class, pursuing and seeking understanding about God and all that I have put my faith in, I have found that with every answer to all of my questions comes a whole new set of questions which always lead back to the original question. It seems that as questions and responses float all around me I continually find myself saying “yeah, but what does that mean?” It never ends.
I was discussing, with a friend, the concept of predestination and free will. Jesse, my friend, was struggling with an idea. He was saying that either:
A) God knows the future and is therefore not omnipotent because sin entered the world against His will.
B) God knows the future but allowed sin to enter and is therefore evil.
C) God doesn’t know the future and therefore isn’t all-knowing or eternal.
D) God chose to limit Himself from knowing the future and therefore must have limited His goodness and His ability to care for His creation.
E) Or a myriad of other possibilities.
I am yet to hear an explanation for God’s sovereignty or for Man’s freewill that does not defy logic or is not contradictory.
So How are we to believe in a good God who knows the future, Predestines everything including sin and is still good, knows about and allows for sin without being evil or weak, and sees a world destroy itself but still has good plans for it? Or a God, who doesn’t know the future without losing His omnipotence, gives man free will without losing His sovereignty, limits Himself without losing His ability, and cannot see what’s going to happen but still knows everything?
Our conversation bounced around for awhile. Jesse said, at one point, “I don’t like the idea that God doesn’t know the future.” So I responded “so maybe predestination is true." Jesus replied saying “but I don’t see how He can justify limiting Himself and still be a good God.” I answered, “That’s why I don’t believe in predestination.” Somehow i am caught in two contradictory ideas.
The Christian faith is filled with paradoxes. If we’re to find the most true and healthy answer to these questions we have to allow them to stay mysterious because God is mysterious. As we package our answers and begin to think we’ve nailed it we have to miss something. If God is beyond our comprehension than any answer we give that remains logical has to be inadequate. The more we take from the mystery the more we take from the truth.
So it is not our ambition to find all the answers, to explain away the truth, rather, our ambition is to live out the mystery; to live the healthiest kind of life. We don’t seek to limit God but we seek to embrace all of Him; the things we cannot know. We seek to fully appreciate our mysterious God. Theology, therefore, is faith seeking appreciation. This is why we try to understand God, not so that at some point we will give up or place Him in a box of logical explanations, but so that as we struggle we realize more and more what we cannot understand and we appreciate it because we have struggled. We have wrestled with God.
So we pray to the mysterious God to show us the mystery, to reveal the unknown and the unknowable. We pray to the mysterious God to allow us to know Him, to embrace Him, even though we cannot. We pray to the mysterious God because we want to relate to the unrelatable. And the beautiful mystery is that somehow we can.