Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mystery of a God Who Allows Mysteries

The God of the Bible is mysterious, and this is a wonderful thing. I have been both puzzled and awed so many times as I consider the way he works. The problem of evil has been presented by both Christian and non-Christian thinkers in every generation. God knew that people would wonder how such great evil can exist when the world was created by a good God. Why didn't he spell out for us more clearly his reasons for the way He orders things? Surely He is in the right, if only we could understand. But when Job questioned God about the sufferings he endured, God never really spelled out to him why he allowed those things to happen. Instead, the Lord reminded Job of the greatness, majesty and wisdom He possesses that transcends what every other being possesses. Job saw that he, as a mere man, was in no place to question God, and God saw that as a fitting conclusion. In Ecclesiastes similar questions come up about futility, injustice and suffering. Again, there is no clear answer to the questions given, but rather the wise teacher writing the book calls his readers to respond by enjoying the good things God has given in life and recognizing that God is in control of the mysterious things, even if we don't understand what's going on. There are some answers to this question in Scripture that give partial explanations, but no single, great answer that removes all doubt.
We've just finished discussions on election and predestination in Dr. Jacobson's Soteriology class this quarter. I've been struck by how the Bible says explicitly in several places that God has chosen to save the elect and that he is the one who ensures this process happens, but yet I haven't talked to anyone who felt like they were forced to be saved. I know many people who believe in irresistible grace, but none of them feel they have been dragged into salvation against their will, kicking and screaming. Through some inscrutable and delectable method, God causes or persuades those he desires to save to desire salvation. He doesn't explain why he passes by some, and he doesn't tip His hand as to precisely who every person he intends to save is, or exactly how he intends to save them. God doesn't offer any defense or explanation as to why he would pass by some and allow them to face judgment while he saves others who don't deserve it. We are simply told that He has chosen some "to the praise of His glorious grace." (Eph. 1:6)
The thing that amazes me is that our omniscient God leaves these questions hanging and allows foolish and blind human beings to rage against him, calling him cruel and unjust. And for a time, He has endured (and continues to endure) their anger, rebellion and slander against Him. He even graciously overlooks some serious complaining and grumbling from His own children, as I keep rediscovering when I recognize yet again that my attitude has turned sour and ungrateful. It's tremendous to observe that our God is so powerful, so mysterious, and so patient with our limitations and confusion. Why does He leave these questions hanging? Why does He settle for ambiguity, when He could clear things up pretty easily if He wanted to, and silence a lot of criticisms and complaints? I am left scratching my head, a bit confused, and once again I find my jaw beginning to drop as I ponder that He has acted wisely and mysteriously, to the praise of His great glory.


VentiAmericano said...

Well said! My blog will have a more "folsom" commentary.

faithbornfromdoubt said...

Reading, thinking through, and teaching Job radically changed the way I think about God. The mysteriousness of God is both frustrating and fascinating. I'm glad he's big enough that we can know in our knowledge of Him for the rest of eternity... and that's a long time.