I was reading Neal Locke’s blog a few weeks ago, and he wrote about how his son asked him, “Daddy, is Jesus God?” He wasn’t sure whether to just give him the “easy Christian answer” or to engage in a theological discussion with his three year old. He chose somewhere in the middle and engaged in a conversation with his son about why he asked that question and asked him what he thought. Reading the post made me think about God and our knowledge of God. We really are so limited in our ability to make statements “about” God, one might wonder if we can really make any at all?
One of my favorite books is “How (Not) to Speak of God” by Peter Rollins. Rollins’s book focuses on the emerging church conversation, and gives both a philosophical and theological background for why this movement is so important in today’s religious landscape. In his book, Rollins reflects on our ability to speak about God. He has a great section that I wanted to share with you briefly:
“For the mystic, God was neither an unspeakable secret to be passed over in silence, nor a dissipated secret that had been laid bare in revelation. Rather, the mystic approached God as a secret which one was compelled to share, yet which retained its secrecy. The union can be articulated like this: That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking.”
I love this paradoxical idea of God being “that which we cannot speak of” and yet, that doesn’t mean that we never speak to God or speak about God. Just as my friend – though certainly not knowing everything of God – was still able to have a conversation with his three year old, so too can we speak to God and not be ashamed to speak of the things we do know of God. This doesn’t mean that we know everything of God – surely not! Yet, we live in the tension of both being humble about our knowledge of God and desiring to share with others our experience of God.