Friday, May 27, 2005

I Wonder

On last week's blog, Tiffany posted about the seeming loss of mystery within legalism. She said it so well that I want to quote it here:
I think one of the most tragic aspects of our legalism is the loss of mystery. We seem to want to learn enough so that we can explain God. How dare we try to claim that we can ever fully understand Him? When we lose our sense of His mystery, He becomes nothing more than a scientifically explainable phenomenon, something we can comprehend and therefore control. Or at least we fool ourselves into thinking so.

I think she has hit something on the head. As a part of my heritage in an Enlightenment-born faith, one of the great pursuits has been for knowledge. We have tried to figured out all of the aspects of religion and to put it into a nice little box, whether it's the Trinity or grace or any of the great mysteries of faith.

One of the things that I'm figuring out as I go through life is that God is so much bigger than I ever imagined. It's like my parents getting smarter the older I get. There is a mystery to God that if I try to figure it out, there's something deeply profound lost there. Mystery is a fact of faith. Without mystery, there is almost no faith. It's only knowledge.

And the truth of the matter is, as much as I'm starting to recognize that God is bigger and more mysterious than I have imagined, so is the Gospel. The Gospel is the love of God that fills me with wonder and calls me to action. It reminds me of something that I heard Todd Hunter say once. When we have reduced the Gospel to a bumper sticker, we have lost the mystery. And the implications of that statement are profound.

It means that the Gospel is not spread in drive-by evangelism. Bringing someone to church as the primary means of "conversion" is not something that holds value. If the Gospel is more than a bumper sticker, or 5 steps, or getting every jot and tittle right, then what is it?

It's relationship. It's loving someone no matter his or her condition, spiritual, physical, or whatever. It's being willing to sacrifice ourselves at the altar of others' needs. It's showing the love of Christ in our words and our actions.

But it takes us as believers to recognize the wonder of the mystery of God. If we lose that wonder, how can we pass it on? If our faith is reduced to knowledge or mentally assenting to a predetermined set of issues, where is the wonder? That child-like awe that comes from recognizing that there is mystery, that there is more than we know, and more than we could ever know.


Tony Arnold said...


Thanks for the post. I love the mystery of God and I am confident that until Judgement Day the mystery will never be removed. For one thing God is just too complex for man. Scripture tells us that if we were to even see a small measure of His true countenance, we would die.

I love being alone in nature, especially in the woods, so I can revel and marvel in His beautiful mystery. And so that I can deal strictly with the emotional part of our relationship rather than the intellectual part.

Have a mysterious weekend brother,


judy thomas said...

Phil, I just have to quote this wonderful poem by David Whyte

Working Together

We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again.

The visible
and the invisible

working together
in common cause,

to produce
the miraculous.

I am thinking of the way
the intangible air

passed at speed
round a shaped wing

holds our weight.

So may we, in this life

to those elements
we have yet to see

or imagine,
and look for the true

shape of our own self,
by forming it well

to the great
intangibles about us.

Now that is a great description of mystery and our relation to it.

Brandon Scott said...

to me, the loss of wonder is the beginning of legalism. great post!

marty dodson said...

Great thoughts. Hope you have a day filled with mercy and grace.

Marty Dodson

Anonymous said...

I guess what struck me was the lack of mention of the words "repentance" and "sin" and "judgement." Though unpleasant, they are real.

By the way, I think you are on the mark about the mystery of God.

see: and listen to Hell's Best Kept Secret for more.

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