Sunday, August 12, 2007

When YouThink You Have the Answers

Years and years ago, my parents owned a copy of the Good News edition of the very 1970s edition of The Living Bible, a paraphrase of the Bible based on the ASV and RSV. This particular edition had cool 1970's-esque pictures of young people in front of every book - think the original movie version of Godspell ans you'll get the idea. This edition also had a little section in the front with suggested Bible passages for various events and moods: "When you're happy," "When you need to make a decision," etc. I was so impressed that I made a copy of these notes and stuck them in my own confirmation Bible, which was a hardcover NIV. I still have them, and that Bible, too.

I ran across the following on Fr. Tobias Haller's excellent blog In a Godward Direction. In honor of TLB's lists of "When you..." suggestions, here's his, which I have entitled, "When You Think You Know All The Answers:"

  • Those in the position to understand the scriptures sometimes don’t, and those with the authority to interpret them are sometimes wrong.
  • Sometimes those who are sure they are doing God’s will are working at cross-purposes with God.
  • God still somehow makes the best of things. Sometimes these things are amazing and completely unexpected and unbelievable.
  • So God takes a long time to do so — from a human perspective. (“A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone...”) Even though David’s words had been sung for fully a thousand years, they only came to realization in Christ, and then were seen (by those with faith to believe) to mean something different from what people thought they meant all along. Much of the world still rejects this interpretation, even after 2,000 more years.
  • Jesus came to bring liberation from sin, which obedience to the law of Moses could not accomplish.
  • This too may take a long time to sink in.
  • There is abundant evidence to show that the church has changed, developed, and evolved in many of its teachings over time, not just on moral questions but on doctrine. (A clear articulation of the Trinity and the Incarnation took about 400 years. The canon of Scripture itself remains unsettled to this day between the various branches of Christendom. There are many acceptable theories concerning the Atonement.)
  • Scoffing is not an appropriate response to the possibility of a new understanding of God’s purpose or plan. A humility that admits one may be mistaken, even after having believed something to be true for a long time, or with great personal conviction based on one’s own experience, is advisable.
  • We don’t have all the answers. God does. And even though God has revealed much, we still dare not claim to have understood perfectly — our knowledge is as partial as our love is imperfect.
  • It appears there is a relationship between our ability to love one another and our ability to understand one another.
  • God commanded the former. Perhaps we should work on that as a way to accomplish the latter.
Well worth pondering. God and God's plans for us are so much more than we can possibly imagine. To think all is, was, and ever shall be - to us humans at least - seems hubristic at best.


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