Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mysteries of God's Revelation

How do we know about God?

Through natural revelation? Through what we can see in nature?
But then is God seen in the warm sunshine and gentle breeze or in the desert heat and the hurricane? Is he seen in sweet puppies and kittens and new-born children or in AIDS and cancer and polio?

In the Bible?
But then is God the God of the Old Testament, of Jesus, of Paul? How do we read the Bible? Literally, allegorically, contextually, reductively (by which I mean in a way that produces a systematic theology) or deconstructively (by which I mean that the meaning is determined by the reader's understanding and not the writer's intention)?

Surely God is also revealed in the church - in his people?
Is he the God of the Crusades? Of the first choir to sing Handel's Messiah? Of the early martyrs? Of the Benedictine monks? Is he God of the Roman Catholics, the proponents of the prosperity gospel, the Muslims, the Methodists?

And in individual believers?
Is he God of the self-righteous Christian who mocks and sneers at Christians who do not want to bless homosexual marriages? Of the Christian who believes that the Bible encourages racism? Of those Christians whose beliefs waver according to the person they are speaking to? Of the one who kills a doctor who does abortions? Of the quiet Christian who spends his life alleviating the poverty found in one small family? Of the arrogant and the afraid and the contented and the dissatisfied, of the greedy and those who seek poverty?

'Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.' 1 Corinthians 13:12.


Anonymous said...

When we take two steps back it's clear that the collective have a very disparate view of who and what God is.

The question is, is God accepting of that (the intangible) or does He want to be known in a objective clear way?

My question isn’t rhetorical :). I'd love to hear what you say.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Mark. I don't think we can know God in an objective clear way. He is too far beyond our comprehension. But that doesn't mean that we can't know anything about him in an objective clear way, just that we can't know everything. I do believe (and this is my Wesleyan angle) that we experience God and as such we know him subjectively - and thus uniquely - as my relationship with him and knowledge of him is unique in the same way that I as an individual am unique.
I do believe in one absolute truth and a completely defined reality and I believe that God reveals aspects of those to us as objective truths. But I am pretty sure that I do not have a hold on all the truth.
I hope that makes sense!

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Mark
About mysteries, I am curious to know what you think. A post on your blog made we wonder if you believed that we can know God fully - but I didn't want to post a question there (some blogs are more pastoral in focus, not sure about yours!) Do you think that we can know God fully?

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I messed up on that post on a number of levels. Please tackle me online if you think I’ve made a mistake or aren’t clear. I’d value that and it’d be for His glory.

Thing is I believe sincerely our approach to God must be objective (John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”). That objectivity is however tempered by wonder at the mystery (Romans 11:34 – 36, “For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him {be} the glory forever. Amen.”).

What do you think? Does that make sense?

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Mark
Thanks, yes that makes sense. I think that we are facing in the same direction, even if we don't agree completely. I just wondered if I'd missed something. I'll comment on your own blog next time!