August 2, 2007

The Practicality of Knowing God

For as long as I can remember, I have always been intrigued by theological discussion/debate. It's helpful, even in the face of theological disagreement, to have such discussions because they serve to sharpen and hold us accountable for our doctrinal claims and convictions. Of course, our knowledge of God should be wholly derived from Scripture, but the minute we begin to talk about God in our examination of the Scriptures -- who He is, what He can do, what He has done, etc -- we are doing theology.

I had a great conversation yesterday with a friend on the train --we were discussing the C word....CALVINISM. It's one of my favorite topics (for those of you who don't me, I thought you'd enjoy knowing that.) So why on earth were we discussing that on the way into the office? I don't even remember how the conversation was started, but the discussion necessitated an explanation to the questions, why is it important to think about these things? Why do we need to think about and be able to articulate what we know about man's sinful condition, God's sovereignty, and man's desire for autonomy?

We talk constantly about having a "relationship with Jesus," "knowing God," "studying the Word," etc, but how often are these little more than cliches? I often hear from people that to make theological claims about who God is, i.e. work hard at interpreting the Scriptures (as we are expected to do), that we lack humility. Knowing God, having an (incomplete) understanding of Him, yet an educated understanding (because I have the Bible), has only served to support and guide me through my own trials. Knowing God, studying Scripture, doing theology, is nothing short of practical.

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

What a wonderful post. I apologize that I did not hop over here sooner from An American Front Porch (work has been hectic this week), but I will definitely be checking back here.

I will be chewing on several of the points you raise here on my own, but the one thing that I would like to offer is this: I remember how simultaneously terrifying and freeing it was for me the first time that I realized that theology (to formalize the term) or a quest for a real and active faith (to be more casual) was ultimately a quest to create a personal, tangible God.

Part of me recoiled at the idea of a personally created God ruling my spiritual life -- it sounded like blasphemy. But the fact is that we all have to have some sort of concept, some sort of idea that we can wrap our minds around when we think of God -- even if it is the majesty of His inifinity, we still have to create some kind of image of how or why or what that means before we can put our faith in Him and worship Him.

Because we are human, our desire is ultimately to create some sort of order out of chaos -- to look for patterns, to seek the familiar, to find meaning in the meaningless. And that is precisely what we are doing when we foray into theology. We are seeking a God that we can understand and that our mind can grasp hold of, even if it is just to a tiny corner of His vast omnipotence. After all, we were created in His image, and His very acts of creation, Christ's sacrifice to redeem mankind -- these are the ultimate examples of creating order out of chaos.