Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 17

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There is an explicitness in the way the knowledge of God is portrayed to us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Nevertheless there is a mysteriousness in the true nature of who God is even though He is so explicitly revealed in Christ.  As the door to the knowledge of Jesus Christ is open into the very nature of God, we actually experience His loving kindness as we discover things of God we would otherwise never know in any other way.  God gives Himself completely but at the same time we are overwhelmed by His intimate presence to the degree that we often find difficulty in using appropriate words to express His ineffable beauty.  We only make fools of ourselves if we try and turn what is ultimately a miracle into a set of logically deduced statements and prepositions.  This is what I believe Paul had in mind.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1Cor. 1:20-25).

We take the beautiful relationship we have with the Father in the Son by the Spirit.  We know deep down in our beings we tend to put little value on ourselves.  Right underneath and within our tangled mess, Jesus Christ holds us together in His love.  Bringing the two together and allowing the very nature of the love of God to have His way in us can be almost too good too be true and too difficult to receive.  In our fears, we feel the assurance.  In our misunderstandings, we understand, in our blindness and darkness we see, and in our deafness to the loving whispers of the Spirit, He breaks through and we hear.  We put up defences but we embrace Him.  Such patience in bearing with our weaknesses we can only look in awe and wonder at such profound love.  In our perceived disharmony between us and the Father, we know deep down within our very beings that all is well with ourselves and God.  I cannot describe in ordinary words the reality of what I experience.  This is something only God can show us in a deeply personal way.  It is with mysterious clarity that God makes Himself known to me that is far too difficult to put into mere words.  Nevertheless, I know others see what I see.  If we want others to see what we see, all we can do is to point people to the only One who can make them see, Jesus Christ.  When they do see, we cannot take any credit for it because what has happened is a miracle.

Scientists experience the same kind of mysterious beauty as they endeavour to unravel the secrets of the natural world.  Einstein often talked about the insignificance of human reflection in the cosmos they explore in comparison to superiority of intelligence that is inherent in it.  We are way smaller than a mere pin sized dot in the knowledge we contain in ourselves regarding the knowledge that is contained in universe we live in.  Yet there is a harmonious willingness on the part of the universe to disclose itself to us if we follow its rules.  The Laws of the universe appear to correspond with the Laws of the mind.  The objects we study in our respective fields are what they are and nothing else.  Therefore we conduct ourselves in our investigation in such a way that precisely reflects to the best of our ability what the objects are disclosing to us.  This means we must find the laws inherent in the object and be obedient to what they are.  In this way, when we share our findings with others, it is with the view of helping others to see what we see in such a way that is true to the objects nature.

In the context of New Testament Scripture, they serve the purpose of having us stand where the witnesses stood, hear what they heard and see what they saw so that we draw our own conclusions regarding the validity of who Jesus Christ claimed Himself to be.  The synoptic gospels and, in particular, the gospel of John, have enormous credibility in their ability to act as the prophetic witness to Jesus Christ.  As T F Torrance would say, they act as the spectacles through which we see Jesus Christ for who He truly is in Himself as God come to us as Man.  It is the Spirit of Christ who resides in us all who helps us to open our hearts to the truth of Himself in the midst of our clumsy efforts to try and grasp Him within our frail and fragile mind.  It is a miracle that we are able to understand at all.

This miracle is God speaking to us directly in Person deep within so that we can know for ourselves in His loving freedom and presence.  It defies all the efforts of the so called informed who want to lay down certain conditions.  Even though many of us are now engaging in Trinitarian Theology all over the world, most of us became believers in places, denominations etc., that are generally opposed to what we now teach.  Yet the Spirit still reached us in the midst of so called wrong and even heretical teaching.  Even in error, we still believed in the One whom God has sent. In some ways, we have reason to be thankful to our past theologies for being a catalyst for what we now know to be true.  Mistakes and errors still teach us what not to do as well as what to do.  Experience really is the best teacher.

When we discover our humanity is tied up in the humanity of Jesus Christ, we realise there is union between our very being and the very Being of Jesus Christ that cannot be undone.  We have no choice but to allow God to love us on His terms.  He laid down the plan before the foundation of the world that He would be our God and we would be His people.  He carried this out at an enormous cost to Himself.  This mystery kept hidden through the ages is now manifest in Jesus Christ.  So it is to Jesus Christ we must turn to and be obedient to if we are to learn of the ways and works of God Himself.  There are no prerequisites because the foundation for all we need to know is rooted deep within us and deep within God where both have been brought together in Jesus Christ.  We will know because Jesus Christ has made it known to us first.  Be wary of all that comes after and tries to reshape what was first disclosed to us in that mysterious encounter that first opened our eyes to the truth.  We must guard our hearts against everything else that tries to change this truth into something else.

Though I do have enormous respect for those who engage in rigorous theological study, we need to be mindful of the very nature of why we believe in first place.  It is a miracle.  I speak for myself when I say that the time before becoming a Christian and the time after becoming a Christian are so diametrically opposed to one another.  As I stand on the outside of myself and look at what happened to me, I am flabbergasted at how I had changed in such a short period of time.  People who knew me were shocked, gobsmacked, flabbergasted and left speechless as I told them I had become a follower of Jesus Christ.  Such was my experience that it had a deep and profound impact on me to the degree that I have never doubted it to this day.  I have undertaken tertiary study with enthusiasm only to find that after such a long journey I am confronted once again with my very first love on that very first day.  It was such a mysterious event.  This is what keeps me alive and kicking and presses me forward to our ultimate goal.

On the surface of people around us we can be quick to judge and make simplistic explanations of people’s behaviours.  Behind our masks, there is often a long and complicated journey that has shaped the way we are and the way we behave and interact with other people.  One has to take time to sit down and hear people’s stories to gain greater understanding of who a person is.  It is naive to think there is a one size fits all.  The backgrounds of Christians will tell us how powerless we are in trying to convince people of the truth of the gospel.  There are some people who have always believed for as long as they can remember.  Others have had their eyes opened at some point in their lives.  Others still, appear to never embrace the truth. (Though I might argue they may be resisting a version of the truth that does not gel with what the Spirit is already telling them).  There is no formula.  There is no pattern to convincing someone to believe what we believe.  The gospel does not appear to confine Himself to our script.  It will make our theories crumble in the light of it.  People will encounter Christ even in places we believe teach heresy.  All we can do is ask people to stand where we stand, see what we see and hear what we hear from the Author of Salvation, Jesus Christ.

Science is the same.  Sometimes a discipline can carefully construct ideas that properly reflect what the mainstream field believes in regard to their object of study.  Then the object discloses something of itself that was never seen before which questions everything that was thought to be true before.  There might be a flurry to re-establish and revise previously held beliefs so that it coincides with the new found truth.  Things may settle until something else is uncovered and new light is shed and the process starts all over again.  It is never on solid ground.  On the other hand, in theology, we all have the same object of study from which we draw our understanding of God.  Jesus Christ is the Uncreated Light who is our One and only constant in all we know about God and His relationship to us.  This places all that we know under this Light bringing all of it under question.  Whatever we bring to Him, even it is the best of knowledge we have so far, is questionable under the Uncreated Light.  It is the Uncreated Light, Jesus Christ, who is the Only who can bring certainty within the uncertain field of knowledge in creation.

Seeking education in the theological fields can be enormously helpful in helping us to understand God so long as it has a strong christological foundation.  It is the Spirit that leads us into all truth.   The Spirit leads us to Jesus Christ who is the centre of all the ways and works of God.  He makes Himself known according to His own rules.  He breaks through our barriers to Him and is able to turn the most unlikely people from darkness to Light.  We must not narrow down the work of the Spirit to campuses, denominations, theories, premises and select leaders.  Though they can play a significant role in helping us to see a bigger picture, the whole landscape of the beauty of our Triune God is something only God Himself can express.  When we are given the privilege of glimpsing into their glory, mere words cannot grasp what it is we see.  All we can do is be grateful to God and reciprocate their love in worship and invocation.