January 13, 2011

Living With Confusion

While it pains me to admit it, some times the things we say don't make a lot of sense, sound very logical and may even defy reason. Now some brands of Christians love when they don't make sense. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, some Christians love being caught up in the mysteries of the Spirit. I just am not that kind of Christian. For the most part I want my universe to make sense and while perhaps it is asking a lot I prefer it when God does as well.

But sometimes as Christians we really don't make a lot of sense and there is nothing we can seemingly do about it. The two biggest examples that I think of which makes the heads spin of believers and skeptics alike is the Trinity and the duel nature of Christ.

The Trinity is of course the orthodox way of describing God. God is Father, Son and Spirit. Each is a person, each is rightly called God worthy of worship. But we are not talking about three Gods nor one God that appears in three forms; instead we are talking about the one and true God who is triune in nature three in one.

The duel nature of Christ is that Jesus Christ is both 100% human and 100% God. He was not a god who appeared human, he was not simply a very holy man, nor was he some sort of demigod of the likes you find in Greek mythology. No Jesus was both fully man and fully God.

See Crystal Clear

Now I can explain both concepts until I am blue in the face, I can site theologians and popular Christian thinkers one after the other, but I find that no matter how much I know about the Trinity or the duel nature of Christ saying I understand them would be an overstatement.

I have a working knowledge of the concepts. I understand and whole heartedly agree with their scriptural proofs. I would debate people that the trinitarian understanding of God is the best understanding of God. I even find understanding God to be trinitarian in nature helps me understand other concepts of God better (such has God being love, and answering the question why did God create at all?).

But when all is said and done, when we have quoted our favorite scripture verses, used our favorite metaphors* and declared our allegiance to the concept; when an atheist tells us that it doesn't make any sense to them I think we are left with no recourse but to pull up our belt, straighten our shirt look them square in the eye and agree with them.

We need to admit that the concepts of Christ's duel nature and the Trinitarian nature of God maybe 'easy' to explain but are quite possibility impossible to understand in any complete sense.

I think there are a few reasons for this. First it is worth saying if I could completely understand God my concept of God must be too small. God ought to be at least somewhat perplexing.

Secondly when it comes right down to it we are not used to thinking of things as having duel natures or one essence and multipliable persons. It's not that those things are totally unheard of in nature, it's just when they happen they are generally considered to be an aberration to the norm.

Some examples of natural shared existences between multiple persons could be considered conjoint twins, animals/human being born with two heads (sounds strange I know but it happens enough that there is a term for it Polcephaly), or people with dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder).

In all of these cases we tend of have two or more persons sharing one essence. These cases are rare enough and confusing enough that we barely can figure out what pronouns we ought to use. Is it any wonder the Trinity and the duel nature of Christ causes us a theological headache.

The point is if we used so called common sense, or logic alone we would not come to the conclusion that God was trinitarian, how could we? We declare he is because we believe he has reveled himself to be. Much the same can be said for Christ's duel nature. I know as far an answers go that is not overly satisfying. But when it comes down to it, it is all the answer that we have. As much as I dislike it I guess I need to learn to live with some confusion. I think I can, can you?

PS- If I'm wrong tell me, I'll gladly retract my statements if you have an airtight explanation that makes 100% sense out of Trinity and the duel nature of Christ.

* It is worth noting that almost every metaphor I know for the Trinity is heretical when taken too far. Some don't even really need to be taken that far. The one I hear the most, that the Trinity is like water, solid, liquid, gas but all water, God is Father, Son and Spirit but all God. This metaphor apply describes the heretical doctrine of modalism, one God in three forms, but it does not describe the Trinity one God, with one essence but made up of three persons in perfect unity. Just saying.