Thinking about Mystery

by | Jul 30, 2020 | Theology | 0 comments

John Frame is one of my favorite authors. For instance, I think everyone should ignore the size of The Doctrine of the Word of God, buy it, and read it. He recently posted a short article with the title, “At 80, I’m more aware of mystery.” This is an especially interesting idea from a guy who’s spent his life writing huge books about theology. Of course, he’s not saying that we can’t know anything (especially the most crucial things for us to know) about God. But he is making a great point about humility in our thinking. He mentions a plant he owns, a Sago Palm, and says:

[God’s] knowledge—even of the things most familiar to us—is vastly different from our own. He and I both know the sago palm in my front yard, but he knows far more about it than I could ever grasp. He knows it as its Creator, as the one who made the whole universe and foreordained its history (Eph. 1:11), as the one who planned from the beginning the process by which that sago palm would grow in my front yard. Further, his knowledge is normative, a knowledge that governs how all his creatures should think about everything. Because God is the supreme King, he has the right to tell me and show me how I should think about that sago palm. 

He goes on:

Today some thinkers believe the world is largely made of “dark matter” and “dark energy.” But these, by definition, are realities that we don’t know, for they are dark. This is to say that for all our sophisticated philosophical and scientific schemes, the most fundamental reality of the world is unknown to us… 

As I get older, I am less and less impressed by people, including theologians, who think they have everything figured out. Theologians readily confess God’s incomprehensibility as a doctrinal point, but often they go on from there to write as if they had that ultimate and final knowledge that belongs to God alone.

In conservative theology, writers tend to confess mystery, but then go on to meticulously explain such things as the order of God’s decrees and the inner activities of the Trinitarian persons without any clear biblical basis.

Liberal writers say that conservative theologians claim too much knowledge of the mysterious God, but then they go on to explain in great detail what government programs God demands of us to help the needy—again, without biblical basis.

At 80, I look at both types of theology with sadness and amusement. God is not here to motivate our rationalistic quest. God is Lord of heaven and earth. He comes to drive us to repent of sin and embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Of course, the whole thing is worth a read.