Reflections on Theology: Perplexing Certainties

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
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In a post over at Jesus Creed entitled “What is Theology,” Scot McKnight asks

Do we respect our limitations when doing theology? Or, do we think we’ve got it all figured out? Do we see that theology is truth but that the immensity of the subject means that our framings of truth are always finite in the face of the Infinite One?

Before attempting to answer the question above some notes about the post that McKnight wrote about.

Basically it’s a short reflection on a chapter from Alister McGrath‘s book entitled “The Passionate Intellect” which looks like an interesting book if you’re familiar with McGrath who has written extensively on theology.

Theology as McKnight reflects on McGrath’s book  gives us new set of eyes that unveil a realm that was once unseen by our naked eyes. It unlocks a vast array of seeing our world. He then notes how McGrath own journey in theology and his struggle to understand Martin Luther‘s Cross theology; it’s messiness and mystery but in that how God is working in the midst of the horrific understanding of what happened at the crucification. He then notes another theologian, C. S. Lewis in his grappling with theology after the death of his wife and how the mystery of the cross paved way for a richer theology for Lewis.

Now for a response to the question that McKnight poses for us.

My own dealings with theology started of as a quest to fitting the right answers to hard questions. I found that in my time doing my diploma in Theology, instead of coming out of it being able to answer hard questions it actually made me ask more questions.

In my first two years in bible school, i thought I was this hot shot theologian being able to dismantle questions that ran counter to faith. In a class setting it worked out well. Where penning answers on my computer and getting the needed grades for passes meant I knew enough compared to the lay folks who knew nothing.

But this sort of thinking soon diminished when I saw death straight in the face. My friend lay on my lap lifeless after a horrific accident. I was left speechless and in shock. Everything I knew seemed to run counter to what i had encountered.

In the aftermath of that experience I followed through my last year in my diploma studies fazed and confused about things pertaining to God and the thing about certainty. I am still puzzled by the experience. Why such a horrific experience? Why would God allow this to happen?

But as McKnight has posted, the mystery of the cross and how God worked through that horrific experience made things in rum in tandem with how one should approach life. Perplexities do exist and at best they remain a mystery always. But through the cross it paved a new beginning or rather a hopeful gaze at what God promises to those who hold to faith in him.

I still have glimpses of that accident and things that happened back then but the perplexities in life is dealt with reflection of the cross.

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