Knowledge and Humility

Snoopy Cartoon

With a blog like Thinking Through Christianity it seems that readers might expect the authors to be able to adequately answer all of their questions. But in reality, we don’t have it all figured out. In fact, for every question I have about the Bible that is answered, it seems to raise about two more questions in my mind.

Here are some questions I have been working through recently:

  1. If there was no death before the Fall, then how did Adam understand the concept of death when he was told not to eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? And if there was no evil had did he understand the difference between good and evil?
  2. If Christians believe that God is sovereign over life and death and we d0 not agree with euthanasia (death with dignity) then why do we not have a problem with birth control? Doesn’t that also suggest we are not trusting God with life?
  3. How do we reconcile Judas giving the money back to the priests in Matthew 27:3 with him using it to buy a field in Acts 1:8? If we believe that everything in the Bible is true, how do we understand these seemingly contradictory passages? Even the way in which Judas is said to have died seems to be different in these texts.

In my own mind I have worked through these issues and come up with what I believe to be a biblical and accurate way of answering these questions, but I am far from having it all figured out–And that is a good thing. As Christians we should think through our faith. We should seek to understand all we can about God, ourselves, and the universe he created. But God transcends our logic. He is a greater being and we cannot fully comprehend him. Further, I don’t think we should desire to do so. There is something beautiful about mystery. Mystery requires faith. Faith is necessary for having a relationship with God. If we had him all figured out, he would be no bigger or more powerful than us.

As we seek to learn what we can of God and make sense of our world, we must allow for error. There is actually room for error in our understanding of God, because we cannot fully comprehend him and as we theorize about the way he works in the world and about why things happen, we must always be mindful of the fact that we could be wrong. This does not infer that we know nothing. In fact, we know quite a lot. The Bible reveals much…enough for us to understand salvation and for us to find redemption. It also tells us enough to give us a hopeful view of what happens after death. But it does not give us everything.

As we think through our faith, our questions remind us of our need to remain humble. There is some kind of relationship between humility and virtue. Christians are called to be virtuous, because Christ was virtuous, but we also see that Christ was full of humility.

So as questions are raised in your mind about faith, about God, about sin, and about the world, be brave!!! Think through the questions. When no answer can be found, look for God in the tension. When answers are clear, use them to love God more deeply.

And when you want to see us struggle with those same questions, ask us. We will give you the best response we can….even if it is “I don’t know.”

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    • Dr. Scott Shiffer