Putting God in the Box of Logic

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I think we have all figured out by now that you cannot put God in a box. Have you ever thought about the fact that out of the 13 or so billion people who have ever lived over thousands and thousands of years of human history less than 1 billion of them were influenced by modern, rationalistic and scientific thinking? Have you ever noticed that the exegesis of biblical writers like Matthew would make an “F” in an undergraduate or graduate level theology class because he totally strips from context the passages he cites as prophesy concerning Jesus. How can he do that? He is inspired but he also lacked the influence of hypothesis testing, critical theological structures, and scientific reasoning and logic that keep us from making the same connections Matthew made. Who is doing theology better? Matthew or us?

Not many people in the world think as linearly as we do in 21st century America. We fine tune our interpretations of scripture and even categorize ourselves into thousands of different denominations based on minute and miniscule theological differences that have all been conceptualized and filtered through several hundred years of rationalistic thinking that was very foreign to the mind of early Christians or even a large percentage of the population of the world alive today.

I wonder how many times we try to back God into a corner to fit our presuppositions, conceptions, and ill-fated logic and even though we know as Solomon said in his dedication of the temple that not even the highest heavens contain him…if deep down inside we think that he is limited by our logic and ability to rationalize him into our own image.

0 Responses

  1. I, too, seek to embrace a strong sense of divine transcendence where our logic (finite and fallible) is not permitted to constrain, restrict or define God. The final words of Romans 11 are still some of the most momentous on this point…and one of the few lines in the NT that quotes the OT book Job.

  2. (((gasp)))

    JOHN MARK HICKS left a comment on your blog, dude! I think I have blog-envy…


    Good comments, Matthew. And, yet, when you begin to consider that God is the Father of all logic… well, that cooks my noodle a little too much for after midnight. I think its time to go to bed.

  3. It’s as if we think there are only two options: rational and irrational.

    We forget that God is supra-rational. He transcends all our logic, but that doesn’t make him illogical. It just makes him impossible to completely figure out.

  4. Is it possible that many of the problems we have with theodicy come out of this issue? We have come up with characteristics or attributes of God and where they don’t seem to come together very well we end up with problems because we cannot see a logical way for God to be, say, all powerful and all knowing and yet things that would not seem to be a part of his will still take place. We end up trying to say he must have either done it to us or allowed it to happen. Those are the two logical possibilities if you say God is omniscient and omnipotent. But what if God defies our logic and is not bound by those logical incongruities? I know I am going out on a limb here but I want to bounce that idea and see where it lands.

    Thanks to all of you for the great comments.

  5. I think I understand where you’re going but to be clear, are you meaning only spiritual in nature?

    If so, a spirit is not quantifiable. To us, it’s only a feeling.

  6. What if God is really an African-American woman, a Middle-Eastern man and an Asian female? And they all live together in a shack?

    Seriously, Matt, I understand what you’re asking, and that may play a part. I tend to think, however, that our problem stems primarily from our inability to truly understand the self-imposed limitations God places on himself. I think this is at the root of our misunderstanding of both humility and leadership.

    If we had that much power, there’s no way we’d place limitations on ourself. We have difficulty fathoming why God would do such a thing.

  7. God can be known, as far as humans can know Him. Can He be understood? In one sense, He can be understood through obedience to His will which is clearly written for all to see in the Bible.

    I don’t understand all of God’s transactions; nor would I want to because it would spoil some of the fun of this amusement park ride called life.

  8. I once spent about two hours talking with a man whose understanding of God and His will for our lives transcends that of anyone I have known or talked with since.

    The morning was among the more memorable of my life. He was a dairyman, so we rose early to milk the herd. When we finished with our chores, he invited me to take a seat on one of the worn-out-front-tires on his old John Deere tractor.

    He took a seat on the other tire. Our conversation began with a question from him. “How are your studies going?” he asked.

    I don’t remember many of the points he made. Nor do I recall his line or reasoning. What I do have a clear image of is his calloused hand scraping across the stubble on his face as he thought about each reply he made to my barrage of questions. I remember, also, that I went away from our time together hoping that I would one day have God oozing from every pore of my body, just like my friend George.

    In a world so highly influenced by rationalistic and systematic pursuits of theological insights, it would probably do all of us a great deal of good to set aside our books and go sit with a dairyman (or someone like him) for an hour or two, at least once in a while.


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