The Mystical Approach to Theology (#3)

This is the third post in a series. Click here for part 1.


So if you have been following along, you know that we are talking about the Divine Mystery – the God who “lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen nor can see” (1 Tim 6:16 ). We have been exploring this fundamental concept that must undergird all of our endeavors to contemplate God. St. Gregory of Nyssa says “The true knowledge and vision of God consists in this—in seeing that He is invisible, because what we seek lies beyond all knowledge, being wholly separated by the darkness of incomprehensibility.” St. John of Damascus writes “God is infinite and incomprehensible and all that is comprehensible about Him is His infinity and incomprehensibility.”

Hopefully by this point you are feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps like a being cast out upon the waves of a vast ocean with no sense of direction. It is a point that I call spiritual vertigo. This is especially true for those of us who like to know things. We love to have the answer! Not only that, our Westernized approach to God (we will hopefully get into that a bit later) assures us that God can be reduced to a formula. Those who have tried to follow this path, to do the math on God so to speak, understand the utter futility and frustration that we can come to. Many, in fact, are drawn toward atheism and denying any existence of God at all. After all, God does not make sense and we have been taught that everything of value must be reduced to a repeatable, testable formula. The Atheists however may, in a roundabout way, be moving toward the greater reality themselves. For as we suggested in a previous post – God does not exist. That is God transcends any definition that we would place on Him; even existence. Remember when Moses encounters God and asks for a name, a definition, of God his answer is “I Am That I Am.” Which seems to say that God exists in eternal mystery. (So when an Atheist tells you God does not exist, tell them “you are right!”)

I say hopefully you feel overwhelmed because this is the highest aim of contemplation of the nature of God. Rather than figuring God out, we come to a place like Jeremiah where we cry aloud “you overpowered me and prevailed!” We are defeated in our pride and arrogance and we are left standing in awe of the Divine Mystery. What we are saying then is that true contemplation of God, theology, brings us into the spirit of prayer. It is a humbling experience. It challenges us to reach beyond intellect and to reach out with our spirit. We seek for unification with God, which is the highest of all goals. We become insatiably hungry for the Life of God. We understand the words of Christ when He says “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”. We are invited to eat of the Tree of Life and Live.

“So let’s just chunk reason and theology out” you might think “after all it is useless”. Now it is time for me to throw a curveball. Reasoning and theology are more than useful, they are essential. More to come …

Click here for the next post.

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