The Mystery of God

I am reading a book right now called Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith per a recommended reading list from Al Mohler, and I came across a helpful explanation on the mystery of God, and I thought I would share it with you all.

trinitybook

Michael Reeves is a brilliant writer, and I am thankful for him and his work in this volume.

Another way to go that can reinforce the idea that the Trinity is essentially a problem is to stick solely to saying what the Trinity is not. We explain that the Father is not the Son, the Spirit is not the Father, there are not three gods and so on. All of which is true, but it can leave one with the hollow sense that one has successfully avoided all sorts of nasty-sounding heresies, but at the cost of wondering who or what one is actually to worship.

Enter the word mystery, a word so soothing it lets us feel that our absolute cluelessness about how God can be both one and three is actually how things are supposed to be. “God is a mystery,” we can whisper in our most piously hushed tones. “We are simply not meant to know such things.” But while such sentiments score high for their ring of reverence, they score pretty low for accuracy. When in Ephesians 3, for example, Paul writes of the “mystery” that the Gentiles are now included in salvation, the word mystery, simply means secret. Paul is sharing a secret with us. Now we know. We are not left wondering what he could possibly mean. The Gentiles are now included. There is nothing we would call “mysterious” about this mystery.

So it is with God. God is a mystery, but not in the alien abductions, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night sense. Certainly not in the “who can know, why bother?” sense. God is a mystery in that who he is and what he is like are secrets, things we would never have worked out by ourselves. But this triune God has revealed himself to us. Thus the Trinity is not some piece of inexplicable apparent nonsense, like a square circle or an interesting theologian. Rather, because the triune God has revealed himself, we can understand the Trinity. That is not to say we can exhaust our knowledge of God, comprehend and wrap our brains around him, simply cramming in a few bits of information before moving on to some other doctrine. To know the Trinity is to know God, an eternal and personal God of infinite beauty, interest and fascination. The Trinity is a God we can know, and forever grow to know better.

I love this explanation of the mystery of God because, particularly in my college years, I heard God-as-a-mystery flippantly used to the point at which I was convinced people called God a mystery only when they were too lazy to find the answers they were looking for in Scripture. God is mysterious, but he is not unable to be known.

-Chris

Intolerant Tolerance

I listen to sports radio often. I enjoy the banter and a few of the personalities’ takes on the world of sports.

This week, Jason Collins, an “active” (free agent, may not play next year) NBA player, announced his homosexuality to the world. For about 48 hours, this was all the rage on every ESPN and major news outlet on the radio, tv, and Internet. Congratulatory remarks and Jackie Robinson comparisons abound, Collins has been heralded as a “hero” a number of times this week.

The afternoon of the announcement, ESPN’s show “Outside the Lines” hosted a discussion between ESPN the Magazine’s LZ Granderson, an openly gay man, and Chris Broussard, an NBA analyst and Christian.

Here is the best video I can find of the much of the discussion:

The meat of what Broussard said in response to Granderson bringing up the fact that he and Broussard disagree on the issue of homosexuality:

“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN’s] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.

“In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.

“… Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

I was actually very encouraged by the discussion the two men had dispite their vastly different views on the issue. I think it was a beautiful example of how to conduct ourselves moving forward. Broussard, making very clear that he and Granderson are good friends and that he values his friendship, is being called “homophobic,” a “bigot,” and “intolerant” by just about every news media source you can imagine, except the obviously hardcore conservative ones (FoxNews, etc.).

Naturally, this discourages me. Broussard conducted himself in the most civil, respectful, “love-your-neighbor”-esque way anyone could in such a situation. Praise God that the Holy Spirit, I’m sure, gave him the ability to conduct himself in such a Christ-like manner. This, too, like the overall discussion, was very encouraging to me.

However, the discouragement regarding the response of the world to Broussard is deep. I mean, what did I expect? Did I expect people were going to accept Broussard?

Well, no.

But if they don’t accept Broussard and his civil, respectful comments, that does not bode well for the future of this issue and the Christian take on it.

There are so many aspects of this issue I can write about it’s difficult for me to know where to start.

First, let’s deal with the tolerance issue.

Intolerant Tolerance

One of the things being said in regard to Broussard and the conservative Christian take on homosexuality is this, “Stop being so intolerant. By calling homosexuality a sin and saying one cannot be a Christian and live in such a way is intolerant and bigoted.”

To illustrate my point, I want to give a mental picture:

Imagine a Group A telling Group B that what they are thinking and doing is wrong and that they should not think or do those things.

An advocate of homosexuality would identify Group A as Christians and homophobes and Group B as homosexuals.

An advocate of biblical Christianity would identify Group A as advocates of homosexuality and Group B as Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin.

You see, both groups, Christians and advocates of homosexuality, are being “intolerant” (defining tolerance as Merriam-Webster does, “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own”), but here’s the crux of the issue: advocates of homosexuality seek tolerance and acceptance regardless of beliefs; Christians claim no such pursuit of tolerance, but one of love, which looks much different.

Is it the case that, perhaps, that the tables have turned and it’s no longer Christians being hypocritical, but those who oppose Christianity?

By demanding the tolerance of one people group, the acceptance of another people group, Christians who believe the teachings of the Bible (the teachings of the Bible on homosexuality here are assumed, the discussion of which is for another time), is aborted.

So how can those who advocate homosexual lifestyles be labeled as tolerant and accepting, while with one side of their mouth they accept a person and with the other they condemn another?

They can’t. The tolerance being peddled is not tolerance, it’s just another brand of intolerance.

Don’t be fooled by intolerant tolerance. Love people, but know that tolerance and love are not one in the same.

Thank God for Chris Broussard, and pray for him.

-Chris