Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Heartbeat of the Universe

I've been teaching this week at a novel writing retreat in North Carolina. As I've been thinking about writing and art and truth, I've been reflecting on mystery as well, and how our relationship with mystery affects our relationship with God.

I think that theology is the greatest threat to spiritual pilgrims when it becomes the game of defining God and gets in the way of letting God define us. In one of the great ironies of faith, the more we try to pin God down, the less spiritual we become.

God doesn’t want us to be comfortable analyzing, categorizing and theorizing about him. Jesus shatters us the moment we try to make him reasonable. He refuses to become our pet. He must be our master or our nothing at all.

Yet when it comes to getting to know God, for some reason Christians all too often try to break him down into bite-sized pieces that fit neatly into one-page doctrinal statements and three-point sermons. We call it Systematic Theology, but the problem is, theology isn’t systematic. It’s narrative. God isn’t a subject to be studied, he’s a Person to be encountered. And we get to know people (and God) best by listening to their stories not by reading their resumes.

I guess that’s why the Bible is the story of God and not the lesson about God. The minute we try to draw lines through the story to explain it all in easy-to-digest morsels, it unravels. You can never experience the full flavor of a story by dissecting it, only by devouring it with the wide-open mouth of your soul. God isn’t an algebra problem to be solved. He is the heartbeat of the universe.


TAMI said...

"Tugging on the hem of a mystery" is much more appealing to me than diagramming its details!

Adastra said...

This is a great post! It seems like I'm reading "about" God more than I am working on knowing Him on a personal level....Like I'm trying to fill the void with that one paragraph that'll be the spark that makes it all click for me.
This was a good reminder for me that having a personal relationship with God is what matters and what can truly fill the heart and it's an experience...a story...unique to every individual....and life is not about trying to "figure Him out" all time. Thanks!
Oh..I finally bought "The Pawn". I'm liking it so far, but it's not the book I'm picking up at bedtime.

kay shostak said...

One of my favorite quotes: "The Word was made flesh. And theologians turned it back into word."