Realistic Christians

We must be realistic about what we can know. Christians above all. In even the most apparently simple affirmation in the Christian faith - I believe in God the Father almighty - we must not pretend that we can grasp the fullness of it. No, we sway in a boat in the middle of the vast ocean with a line in the water. When we catch hold of something on the line, we do not pretend to have caught the ocean as a whole. In our most profound theological insights we barely puncture the peel of the apple, still less reach the core. And to know this is liberating. We truly penetrate the ocean and thus can know things truly. But never exhaustively, never enough to decide it is rational to doubt and reject the truth.

Yet we do, anyway. Because we do not catch the ocean on the line, because we can't see all and comprehend all, we mourn and wonder and then, answers evading us, we deny the ocean extends beyond our reach and decide our little patch of familiar waters is enough to read the whole. But a Christian view creates the space not only for knowing but also for not knowing, even the not knowing that leave us gutted, bent over, weeping, wailing, putting our hand through the wall, or a thousand miles on the odometer - all the ways we agonize over pain and loss and sorrow. Christians can do that because the ocean is vaster than our grasp of it, and what we do know is real: that it is not supposed to be this way and that divine purpose is good. Is it correct or faithful speech to use the words, “God has his reasons,” when we do not know those reasons? When we pretend it is the comprehensive answer, "God has his reasons" is rebellion, but when the same words express an embrace of the ocean beyond our reach as both good and wise, though mysteriously so, it can be faithful speech. Realistic Christians are the most parodoxical of creatures, abjectly humble and securely confident.