What to Believe about God and His Doctrines?
I am quite baffled by something. The other day I had Bible study. About 20 or so of us women are going through the Beth Moore study Believing God, and today Beth talked about God, and who he is. And the climax of her talk was about the fact that we can’t put God in a box, that His mystery is part of the sovereignty of who He is. Here’s the quote that I wrote down about what she said:
“All attempts to define God cannot help but minimize him. If in our pursuit of greater knowledge God seems to have gotten smaller, we have been deceived. When we do this, we take the wonder, mystery, and wildness out of our conception of God.”
As Beth said these words, I saw heads around the room nodding in vigorous agreement. The women’s faces all said, “Yes! God is so huge! He is bigger than my dreams and and so much bigger than every box I could ever try to stuff him into!” They were totally buying it.
So here’s what baffles me. If God is really that big, WHY are we as a church so dogmatically determined to define Him with doctrine?! Because isn’t that what we’re doing, when we say, “THIS belief is God’s almighty, immutable Word; it says so in the Bible and any interpretations to the contrary are false and born of the devil!!!” I’ve heard language like that over and over. But when Beth was talking about how God is so huge and mysterious and impossible to define, all these ladies were nodding their heads in agreement, as if their God’s character is indefinable, but what they ought to believe about his doctrines are set in immutable stone!!
Well, I, for one, believe that you can’t separate God from his doctrines. If certainty about the nature of God himself is beyond human comprehension, then so is certainty about his doctrines. Of course, we can get a picture of God from his Word, and discern bits and pieces of his character and his ways and his laws and what he desires us to believe about him. But at the end of the day any claim to know with absolute emphatic certainty that THIS way is the only right way, THIS belief about this particular issue is the only right belief, and anything to the contrary is absolute trash, is also a claim that you know God.
So. There are precious few doctrines that I claim as my own (and a lot more that I’m still working through figuring out). The belief that gay relationships are equal to straight ones is one of them. But right now, in this moment, I surrender that belief to God. I’m not turning away from that belief, because I still think it’s the one that makes sense within my understanding of the Bible. But I surrender my certainty about it to God, and declare that he is bigger than this doctrine too, and that my small human mind may be wrong about his design for marriage.
It was so difficult to admit that, but I’ve worked so hard to shatter the box I put God in, and the last thing I want to do is stuff him into another box—especially since a box like that would be of my own design, and not my religion’s.
And I offer this challenge to you as well: don’t limit God to the doctrines you believe about him. Stretch yourself. Acknowledge the profoundly mysterious quality he possesses, and the incomprehensible nature of his holiness. Be willing to be wrong, and be willing to engage in healthy conversation with those with whom you disagree. Because you never know, God just might be working through that person to teach you something new.