Faith and mystery

Faith and mystery

I believe that the synoptic gospels are accurate and trustworthy retelling of events, but they are not without human influence and personality.  Even the biblical authors had their own agendas or purposes in what they wrote.  They reflect different aspects of God, Jesus’ life and teaching.  I do not believe that Matthew viewed God the same way Paul did.  I believe that the experiences that Matthew had in choosing to follow Christ impacted his theology.  I believe that Paul’s experience of being struck blind influenced his theology.  Are they both real? Yes.  Are they both trustworthy?  Yes.  Can they be systematically reconciled?  I don’t believe so. 

There is an aspect to following Jesus that is mystical, it is mysterious, and certain things are comprehended at that level and they are difficult to communicate.  What is the relationship between God’s influence and our free will?  For Matthew it was all about choice, for Paul we were predestined.  They are both right and I don’t know how or why. I am content to leave it a mystery. There are some things that we take on faith and we move on.

One of the major problems with evangelical religion is that it is absent of faith.  There is very little we accept on evidence we cannot see or explain.  There is no mystery that is so profound and life changing that it cannot be expressed with words.  Today faith is not acceptance of evidence unseen, but the ignorance of what we can see.  We try to fit the divine scriptures in to a systematic mold and they don’t fit.  We cling tenaciously to traditional interpretations of scripture long after they have been challenged by honest science. 

We are afraid.  Afraid that if we acknowledge one crack in our system the whole thing will fall apart and it will be useless.  We need to stop propping up scripture with ignorance, and have the faith to trust it as it is. 

  1. #1 by Andrew on November 24, 2004 - 4:34 am

    Excellent post. I think the reason people act as if afraid, as you say, that one crack in the system will tear teh whole thing apart is because evangelicalism may be based on a system that really would fall apart if one crack were admitted.

    Possibly related: Doesn’t anyone ever wonder why so many ppl leave the church the same time they leave home and/or go to university?

  2. #2 by Leighton Tebay on November 24, 2004 - 9:26 am


    Good question. I think it has a lot to do with fear. Most evangelicals “accept Christ” at an early age to avoid hell and get in to heaven. The church provides people with a very simplistic worldview in an attempt to control people’s behavior. People are told that being a Christian is this great life changing thing, but when they spend x amount of years in the faith and experience none of that which is promised they begin to doubt. When removed from a structured environment that made it easier to go to church than to not, they just slip away. People realize that there are a 100 distinct voices claiming absolute truth and they begin to wonder how they know they are more right than anyone else. Some people discover that some people who follow other philosphies demonstrate a greater concern for the tangible needs of others. Some people find what the world offers more engaging.

    I think the bottom line is that there is distinct problem with the “good news” that evangelicals share because for many it doesn’t seem to work like the scriptures say it does. There are ways to take this. Either the scriptures are wrong, or we got the gospel wrong.

  3. #3 by james boldt on November 24, 2004 - 12:21 pm

    The good news, I honestly don’t think many of us know what that is anymore. We have been told not to question God anymore…but question the Leaders of of Church, but they havn’t a clue either is seems most of the time. The use the bible and not their lives to answer questions. When I read the Gospels…They make sence and they go together because its the same truth through the writers life. The Gospel doesn’t make sence if there wasn’t personal change. if there wasn’t personal expirence, there would be no Christianity, there would be no truth. hmmm… ok sorry that was a little bit of a rant…

  4. #4 by Jeremy Kliever on November 24, 2004 - 12:25 pm

    Everyone sees a different aspect of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is why fellowship is important, fellowship is the shared experience of Christ. No one person has experienced all of the different aspects of God’s personality. The Hebrews created a new name for God every time they experienced a new aspect of Him.

    Every person has a different relationship with the same person. Just as our relationships with humans here on earth differ from person to person, so does our relationship with God differ. Only by coming together in a greater community can that experience of God truly be complete. It is arrogance that assumes that one of us can experience all of God individually. My God is too big for me to know on my own. I need other believer’s experiences to help me understand. I don’t substitute my experience with theirs, but I add to it.

  5. #5 by Andrew on November 24, 2004 - 10:45 pm

    Leighton: I agree with you that there is a distince problem with the good news evangelicals share, and that for many, most, it doesn’t work as it is ‘supposed to’. I think that is because the good news we proclaim is missing the point, that we promise things in ways that mislead, and we fail to communicate exactly what it is the scriptures do promise. Most of the time, if you even get to this life in whatever gospel presentation is being given, it is only to say that God loves you and will be with you, answer prayers, and that sort of thing. What of the cross? what of sacrifice? dying to oneself? what of persecution? etc. etc. etc. The gospel is good news, but it is not all happy, comfortable, emotionally stabalizing news. It is good news because it is a message of Faith, Hope, and Love; as opposed to our usual gospel trilogy of Comfort, Security, and Prosperity.

  6. #6 by Jacob on November 25, 2004 - 4:09 pm

    What about John? Accurate, trustworthy?

  7. #7 by Leighton Tebay on November 26, 2004 - 8:27 am


    My post might have implied otherwise, but I consider John just as authoritative as the synoptics.

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