When Common Sense Fails…

... and sometimes unreliable too! (Image courtesy of http://www.simplyblatant.com)

A lot of things don’t make sense in Christianity. They contradict our common sense view of the world. How can a person be both fully God and fully man? What do we mean when we talk about a Trinity – a God in three persons?

A lot of things don’t make sense in physics. They contradict our common sense view of the world. How can light be both fully particle and fully wave? How can a cat be both dead and alive at the same time? How can two people travelling at different speeds measure time differently?

Our experiences in modern physics, particularly in the fields of general relativity and quantum mechanics, have taught us that common sense can sometimes be unreliable. Common sense is based on our everyday experiences, but when we are talking about something that goes beyond everyday experience, common sense often fails us.

Physicists in the early twentieth century took a while to accept this new view of the world. The quantum mechanical revolution was a slow and painful process. Physicists just had to hang on to their experience, in this case the experimental data.  To this day, we can safely say that no one truly understands quantum mechanics and its implications in its entirety.

Theologians and Christians in general have a hard time with this idea of the Trinity. To this day, we can safely say that no one truly understands what it really means. We just have to hang on to experience; in this case, the experience of the early Christians and church fathers who saw fit to describe Jesus in divine language, and of our experiencing the Spirit of God present in us.

For the Christian, it is essential to do justice to the way God is actually known, rather than reducing God to a level at which we can understand Him. The doctrine of the Trinity summarizes the greatness of God, partly by reminding us of all that God has done. It encourages us to broaden our vision of God. Above all, it demands that we do not falsely limit God by insisting that He fits into our limited understanding. ~ Alister McGrath, Glimpsing the Face of God

Many Christians want a God that is predictable because it is reassuring and comfortable. God encounters people of faith through liturgy, sacrament, prayer and preaching. Such living encounters may sometimes be deeply soothing and comforting, but if God is to be God, surely there will be times in every believer’s life of worship when the encounter is unsettling, startling and challenging. ~ Scott Hoezee, Proclaim the Wonder


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