In N.T. Wright’s profound book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, he writes, “The point of discourse is to learn with and from one another. I used to tell my students that at least 20 percent of what I was telling them was wrong, but I didn’t know which 20 percent it was: I make many mistakes in life, in relationships and in work, and I don’t expect to be free of them in my thinking. But whereas in much of life one’s mistakes are often fairly obvious—the shortcut path that ended in a bed of nettles, the experimental recipe that gave us all queasy stomachs, the golf shot that landed in the lake—in the life of the mind things are often not so straightforward.”
The reason I appreciate Wright’s candor here is that in my experience, those who suppose they have figured out all there is to figure out about God rarely are extravagant worshipers. We don’t chase what we’ve already caught. We don’t seek out what we’ve already secured.
Certainly, there are things we “know that we know” about God—creeds, for example, bedrock issues of faith that simply aren’t up for debate. But aren’t there thousands more things that we still wonder about, things we take strong positions on but in our heart of heart say, “You know, I really don’t know.”
Here’s an image that is helpful to me, a sort of visual goal I keep close by: I want to keep my feet planted on the solid rock of truth, while my head stays in the swirling clouds of mystery—those things I just don’t know about God.
Whether we’re talking about the silencing of women or the ordination of women or whether you can root against the LSU Tigers and still call yourself a Christian, I want to stay open, curious, eager to be swept away by the wonder that is God himself. Feet on the rock, head in the clouds. This is a very good way to live.