God is like a sphere of light emanating from a single point. That sphere is infinitesimally small but has infinite reach. The only way we can put words to the reality of God is to pick a point in space and name what we see there. No matter how many points we name, there are still infinitely many more to know and we can never step back from our perception far enough to look at the whole and to verify whether we are moving toward or away from the source of the light.
By the limits of perception and reason, we can only see and name flat surfaces that intersect with the reality of God at any given point. We have no direct access to the infinitesimal point of reality at each location in space without analogy and heuristics. Only by revelation from God can we ensure that our limited words and perceptions intersect with the reality of God. This does not mean our views are not true, but that the sense in which they are true will always be more revealed by the light of God than human effort and will be less precise the more we try to expand our view from that point of intersection.
Even without changing our words, as we move through time and space the reality we are trying to name will drift, in sometimes more and sometimes less discernible ways – what is repeated at one time and place is no more guaranteed to remain true than what was said in its original time and place was guaranteed to be true – guarantees are only possible by the confirmation of God. To ask “who is God in this time and place?” is necessarily to ask a different question than anyone is capable of asking in a different time and place. To hold on to the answer of another faithful person may very well be instructive for how we are to understand a new reality down the road, but we can no more verify the persistent truth of an answer than we can verify the possibility that our words and lives mean what they used to mean.
To do theology is to try (whether consciously or not) to name one point on the sphere that is God. All life is an act of theology, the only question is whether word or deed move us closer to the source of light or away from it. Understanding where we are and where we are headed is therefore contingent on the willingness of God to reveal what we cannot determine and can never be grounded on anything other than the power and light of God. We cannot know all that there is to know about God, but we can seek to understand more and more of our lives in relation to the source of our light and life. The more we seek after the roundness of God and resist creating the kind of flat place on which to remain standing, the closer we will get to speaking the truth about God. But the more we try to say about God, the easier it will be to assume we can connect the dots with our own words and perceptions, thereby pushing ourselves further from the truth that has been revealed.
This blog is my best attempt to name a few points of intersection with the reality of God in the hopes that it might help others put words to where and how God still acts today and to what it means to be a part of God’s mission of relationship and self revelation in a thing called church.