Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Spinning Into Esoterica

Unveiled Face posted a while back on the definition of "the gospel." It was an interesting discussion, but interesting in a "Christian geek" sort of way.

To use a computer, is it necessary to know about logic gates, semi-conductors (and how to make them), operating systems, assembly language, C++, networking protocols, baud rates, and so on and so forth? Nah! But what is it necessary to know?

I think that is what lies at the heart of the question, "What is the gospel?" I think it is our effort to come up with a formulation that is the minimum to say you know what it means to be a Christian. But... (and this is where the computer analogy is really useful)...there is simply too much to simplify it that way.

Guys who design logic patterns for chips know very little about how to make them. They may, for example, know that they can only put so many gates in a square inch, but they have no idea how the silicon guys do that. People that write application software, like say to produce a greeting card, have no idea about assembly language programming, they only know the calls to the operating system, and are completely clueless about what the electrons are doing in the chip strata. The point is that a computer is so complex, no one individual can know all there is to know about it - nor frankly can it be distilled into a formulation simple enough for one person to declare, "I know the essentials of computers." One may know the essentials of using a computer in your home, but that is not the essentials of a computer, you are clueless about how to build them, connect them, programs them, etc.

Now, if that is true for computers, something created by us, how much more so is it true about something created by God?

Having said that does not mean we give up the effort, for I believe it is in the effort that we grow, but I would suggest that we approach the effort in a far more humble way. It is about the journey, and we are not competent enough to know the destination.

Struggling to know God is the point, struggling to define it strikes me as the ultimate expression of hubris. I also know that this kind of talk is typical of peole that want to do away with all tradition and commonly accepted boundaries, but that is not what I am saying. History matters. What I am saying is the only thing we can know with certainty is that we are incapable of knowing with certainty - nd the one thing that can therefore define us is humility.

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