Church culture is often more comfortable with reducing mystery to the explainable. And yet, a faith established in the infinite cannot be contained in our finite understanding and exposition.
In the New American Commentary on the Gospel of John, Gerald Borchert wrote, “The teacups of our thinking and language have not yet approached the capacity of holding the ocean of divine truth.” (104)
An intrinsic need to rationalize can depreciate the spiritual life into the controlled. Control needs to exercise authority or dominating influence over. It directs, requires, regulates, contains, moderates and restrains.
Control holds in check, reduces or prevents from spreading and retains the power to make decisions in order to influence results. Control holds others captive to style, tradition, form and structure. And controllers are gatekeepers who identify, count, monitor and supervise ingress to or egress from.
But mystery … mystery, on the other hand, allows us to simply and humbly respond with, “Woe is me … I am undone,” —Isaiah 6:5
In the Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, Robert Webber wrote, “In the end an intellectual spirituality is situated, not in God’s story, but in my knowledge about God’s story, which is inherently limited.” (87)
Webber continued by writing, “The contemplation of God, of his person, creation, incarnation, and re-creation of the world, is a different kind of knowledge. It is a contemplation on the mysteries, namely, the mystery of God creating, the mystery of God incarnate, the mystery of the cross and empty tomb, the mystery of God’s presence in the church, and the mystery of Christ’s return to claim his lordship over creation. The contemplation of these mysteries moves us to live into these mysteries, participating in God’s life for the world.” (87)
Living in these mysteries reminds us that God cannot be completely contained in and explained through our limited understanding. For if He could, then He is a god who does not deserve our worship.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen —Romans 11:33-36