Some Heavy Theology

My son John always asked hard questions as he was growing up. I remember one time we were talking about how Jesus was wholly God and wholly Man. (That’s a tough subject for anyone of any age!) Finally, he thrust his hands into his pockets, looked up shrugging and said, “That’s some heavy theology, Dad.”

I believe it is important – no – imperative that we ask the tough questions. Believe it or not, just as surrounding ourselves in nature brings us closer to God, so wrestling with difficult concepts draws us closer to the Lord. We learn to appreciate him more as we begin to understand who he is and what he does. Knowledge is another pathway to God, but it is a dangerous road too, full of bends and bumps. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy:

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions (1 Timothy 1:3 – 7).

Arius the Heretic

An example of this was Arius – perhaps the most famous heretic in history. Tall, thin, pale, and charming, Arius tried to distinguish between the Father, and the Son. According to Arius: “The Father existed before the Son. There was a time when the Son did not exist. Therefore, the Son was created by the Father. Therefore, although the Son was the highest of all creatures, he was not of the essence of God.”[1]

Trying to explain how we believe in three members of the Trinity (which makes it seem like we believe in three gods), who are in fact one God, is what we call a “Mystery.” It’s like an axiom in mathematics. These are “facts” that are assumed to be true since they are considered to be “self-evident.” An axiom is a statement that is accepted without proof. For example, “Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” (In math terms: if a = b, and b = c, then a = c.)

In theology, we can’t explain how three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) can be one: a unity. But it is reasonable to think, things that are reasonable in God’s world, would seem unreasonable in our world. For example, our world is bound by time: past, present, and future, but those terms have no meaning to a God without beginning or end – eternal. Likewise, our world is bound by physical dimensions: height, depth, and width, but those terms are meaningless to an omnipresent Lord. So, it is reasonable to think these things are unreasonable. We accept them by faith. John was right. That is some “heavy theology.”

[1] Douglas, J. D. (1992). Arius. In J. D. Douglas & P. W. Comfort (Eds.), Who’s Who in Christian history (pp. 35–36). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.

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