Not answers, but theology


I was listening this afternoon, to a radio broadcast when I heard a program with a gentleman speaking who offered a tremendous quote. Unfortunately, as I was only in my car for a few minutes I am unsure as to the program or the speaker. The quote, however, I am quite sure of. The speaker was asked the age-old question in regards to “Why bad things happen to good people” or even more pointedly, “Why do bad things happen to God’s people?” While I am constantly frustrated by the pat evangelical answers that God is only halfway in control of the universe; answers which really don’t provide any answer, or hope, at all – this answer was different. The speaker started by saying that ultimately we cannot know why they happen. He explained that they happen within the providence of God which is regularly beyond our purview. Then he went on to provide the million dollar quote when he said, “God doesn’t provide answers, He provides theology.” Wow. What a statement. He went on to elaborate that God doesn’t provide answers to every situation but He does provide theology which comforts and guides us through the situations. He shared how we can examine scripture and see that God controls the wind and the waves as well as the truth that God is in control of even the most frightening of situations. We can also take comfort as we think about God’s greatness and sovereignty that God loves His children and takes delight in them. I hope this quote, and the philosophy behind the quote, encourage you as greatly as they have encouraged me this evening.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

8 thoughts on “Not answers, but theology

  1. Micah,
    The statement resonates well with me. The question remains, though, does theology provide any answers? Is John Piper right, for example, when he says that the Minneapolis bridge collapse was God’s way of causing the people of Minneapolis to fear him? If so, how would we reconcile that with a statement like “God loves his children and takes delight in them”? Theology is crucial, obviously, but it can’t just be about God; it has to be also about God’s relation to the world and our actual experience. Any thoughts?

  2. Kyle;
    Your comment is itself doing theology rather than giving pat answers, which rather makes the speaker’s point.
    Disasters retheologize our thinking. Jesus said the tower collapse was a loud message not a specific punishment. That’s what Piper meant too I imagine.
    Far too many Christians theologize ‘God is love so everything must be good for me and my family’. That has never been what God’s love has meant for Him or for us and when we open the Bible we all know it. Our actual experience is Messiah crucified. The answers await, the theology sustains. People of the cross should be able to withstand a collapsed freeway undeterred but not unmoved.

  3. Kyle-

    First, let me apologize for the length of time that has elapsed since you asked the question. Secondly, I would concur with davep. While I agree that theology provides hope – it’s vital that we do two things when understanding that theology. First, we must have correct theology. The thought that God’s love must always parallel our opinion of what love looks like is simply not accurate. The way I love my daughters, for instance, is often “warm and fuzzy” and is often not. Love is a many faceted emotion. Secondly, though, I think we need to take great hope in the theology that teaches us that God operates (i.e. thinks, feels, acts, etc.) in ways that are beyond our comprehension. His sovereignty may be one of the greatest theological truths that one can hold to.

    When we carry those two truths into our understanding of theology and its implications on difficult circumstances, I believe we can have great hope.

  4. I’m not so sure I would take Piper’s line in saying that it should remind us to “fear God” unless that is explained. But surely every event in our life is to cause us to see God as greater than ourselves. Tragedy is one aspect but just the same, the fact that the rain falls on my fields and the sun shines points to a God who is greater than I.

    The problem of theodicy will never be adequately explainable to the finite mind. Yet the truth that theology (the good, solid, practical kind) is a comfort to God’s people. When all else fails, it is God that is steady, firm and rock-solid. He is the one to whom we must be drawn in all of life’s troubles.

  5. The point I was trying to make, if unsuccessfully, is that it’s not theology we get, rather than answers, for theology is a way of seeking answers, or at least a clarification of non-answers. Ultimately, in the face of tragedy, we don’t get answers, but we do get the “Answerer.” Theology points us to God and to his reality; it’s not an end in itself, a collection of objective propositions that can control, manipulate, distribute at will…

  6. Kyle-

    The lightbulb just went on for me. šŸ™‚

    Sorry I missed the point. I can be slow a bit at times. Your point is well made, well received, and to be honest, just plain right.

    Thanks

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