The thesis of the book I am currently writing is grounded in this point – divine love is a mystery. The mystery is this there is an infinite God who loves us eternally. This mystery is given only to those who hunger and thirst to live in his presence actively waiting upon him. We will “see” this reality, the reality of God’s eternal love, by remembering him and casting out in childlike faith into the depths of his goodness and grace. Difficulties and doubts will meet us along this way. But we must make it our daily experience to “ask . . . search [and] knock” if we would experience God’s love.
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11, NRSV).
Paradox and the Art of Unknowing
The most common sources of doubt have perplexed human beings for as long as we have lived. We express faith in statements that seem paradoxical, if not outright contradictory. We struggle to reconcile some things we see revealed in Scripture and confessed by the church. For example, Christians believe that God is one yet also three. We confess that God is all good (love), yet he allows evil to exist in the world at the same time. We say that Christ is truly man but then confess that he is also fully God. We believe that we are free persons yet we also believe that we are dependent upon an omnipotent God. We are mortal but we believe that we will also survive death. Our body will die and return to the dust but we will rise whole persons at some future point in time. “How can reason cope with such paradoxical beliefs? How can we believe in them and remain rational?”
These questions are not rebellious or distrustful. They are normal if you are a thinking person at all. They come to skeptics but they also plague the most devout believers. Indeed, these kinds of questions have been the material stuff of Christian theology for twenty centuries. Irma Zaleski (Who Is God, 72-73) suggests:
The source of most of these controversies or “heresies” that have caused so much dissension in the early Church lay precisely in the desire of some Christian theologians to get rid of the paradoxical nature of the truths of faith and choose only one side of each paradox (italics are mine).
Take Arianism as one example. This ancient and persistent error teaches that Jesus cannot be fully God. Why? Swimming in the waters of ancient philosophy Arius and his followers thought it impossible for God to change. If God could not change then how could he truly become a human person who was, at the same time, fully divine? How could a man have both a fully divine nature and a fully human nature, without mixing the two into some new nature, and yet still be God? Before you rush by this one pause and consider just how powerful this question really is to the thinking process. The contradiction of this very paradox prompted Arius to deny the divinity of Christ. The church said this was a heresy. And a mighty struggle for the mind and soul of the church ensued.