I see you

Our people and them

I am in the final stages of editing Volume 4, ‘Lifeline’, which will be a digging somewhat deeper into the Pauline Gospel. Here is a little extract from the Preface. I write about Paul’s confrontation with Peter in the Galatian context. [And of course I do not need to remind anyone that Volumes 1 and 2 can be bought now, volume 3 in the next few weeks. No need to remind you hence placing this in brackets!!]

Beginning of short extract:

Paul’s response was not very diplomatic as he did not allow for any middle ground. Those teachers were proclaiming ‘a different gospel’ and he invited a curse from heaven to come on them:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Gal. 1:6-9).

Paul’s understanding of the Gospel was such that he gave no value to that of fulfilling the Jewish rite of circumcision. The only value he held to was that of ‘new creation’:

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation (Gal. 6:15).

This is the same language (kaine ktisis: new creation) as in 2 Corinthians 5:17 where in that context he writes that for those who are in Christ how they see others has been totally altered. No one can be viewed according to any former value system, for ‘if anyone is in Christ [there is] new creation’. Through Christ’s death on the cross there is a new social order. Perhaps the best summary of the effect of the Gospel, the birth of this new social order is the classic summary text in Galatians 3:28, 29:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

End of extract…

Paul pushes a lot of buttons. Sight, for him, seems to be a measure as to whether we are ‘in Christ’ or not. I have no idea if he would buy into the forensic argument related to justification without corresponding action (or here sight). Sight needs to mark us out. When we talk about ‘our people’ and ‘them’ and the context is political (as I have seen recently on a Christian video) I cannot square such language with Paul’s indication of what it means to be in Christ. (Even Joshua had to find out that God was not into the ‘us’ or ‘our enemy’ language. No help coming from God to us…. and the ever present danger of the Judas’ gift of being wedded to our view of the kingdom…)

It is a sad day when we are able to label people by ideology. Paul was pretty up tight when he saw the effect of division that came about through the interpretation of Scripture regarding faith. He (in his own wonderful ‘objectionable’ way) called it ‘another’ Gospel. What would he say when we make divides over other issues?

In the womb

Two wombs make space

Although being a non-reflecting sort of person I always love the seasons such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. Just gives a little pause to think and be thankful. Also this year being a year of focused writing that has centred in on the life of Jesus as the one who was fully God and truly human I have had to consider how he grew up, certainly not the baby in the manger who ‘no crying he made’. Brings me to consider the virgin birth.

I accept the virgin birth though so little is made of it in the Scriptures. Paul with all his writings does not mention it, nor Hebrews. Maybe Paul did not know about it, maybe it was always understood as a symbol? If that was the case I could accept that for there does not seem to be any level of appeal to the virgin birth theologically in Scripture. The theology seems in some way tied to a particular approach to sin and perhaps also to sex. (The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew does not put together a ‘pure’ line: neither racially nor sexually.)

What is clear is we are not reading some kind of myth of a god encountering a young woman and through some sexual act an offspring comes forth, a demi-god. The narrative pushes us right away from that, indeed it pushes us in a feminine direction with two ‘wombs’. The womb of a young woman, and at the same time the womb of the Holy Spirit. I am not suggesting that the Holy Spirit is female any more than I suggest that ‘God’ is male. I am simply suggesting that the imagery surrounding the virgin conception is feminine. Mary makes room for the baby; the Holy Spirit likewise makes room for the incarnation. It all happened through the overshadowing, brooding, creative shaping energy of the Spirit. Just as creation came forth by the word spoken into the brooding shape of the Spirit; just as the early disciples in the upper room were overshadowed by the same brooding presence; in that same manner comes forth a male child, born of a woman, born under the law.

Not much in the narrative that features the male presence.

What a wonderful act. Although the original Christmas was unlikely to have occurred at this time of year, here we are just breaking into the days getting longer (northern hemisphere of course) and with one eye on the new year, so I find Christmas… the brooding presence of the Spirit making room for new beginnings. Not an immediate birth, but a normal human process begins. What a combination. A natural process with aches, pains, inconvenience and participation between the divine and the human.

Reflecting back on Gayle’s post of a few days ago. Time to make any adjustments that are needed. Light is here. Clouds will come. Sight is possible to set a direction, even when sight will become less clear. A process will continue.

Twins are born having been carried in one womb. A (non-literal) birth from heaven is carried in two wombs.

Looking back… way back

When one is young looking back 20 years is such a long time ago. I had an email asking me for some reflections relating to a period of time 20+ years ago. For me ‘a long time back’ so that helps me live out another day of fantasy. I am really still ever so young.

It was interesting though to respond, as for me (and also Gayle) that era was so formative of who we are. It gave me a fresh appreciation of how God can transform a life, the reality of the Spirit, that fire spreads etc. Deeply appreciative, and of course (like everyone else) I see where I am today as a result of the path(s) that I have been led on. Maybe a little (and remember ‘little’ is a small word) more humble that suggests that if I have any (hope ‘any’ is not a small word) integrity it is the path I have been led on, without suggesting it is THE path. Jesus is the way, but the path seems to be uniquely honed for each person (not to be read as all paths lead to God… I am talking about one’s life).

I think there were expressions back in that day that could not really go further because they were not multi-racial nor multi-cultural. There is something of fullness that can only come through with a greater ethnic, generational and gender expression. But beyond that there were expressions that had to come to an end, had to come to an end as the post-Christian and post-Christendom (and pre-Christian) era demands that.

Twenty plus years ago, any view of the ‘afar off’ was to see them as those who needed to join ‘us’ or ‘our children’. The ‘afar off’ though are to be joined by ‘us’ (and for ‘us’ who can’t make the journey, by ‘our children’). (Illustrated as per Peter and Cornelius). The catalytic nature of 20+ years ago opens everything up for where we are now in the West. An increasing exhalation of the breath of God. It will be felt in the vicinity of where it is being experienced.

History teaches and we learn; history holds us back and prevents us seeing what we have never seen. History is a foundation; history prevents development.

The last paragraph can be deleted. It is our response to history that is determinative.

A ‘decrease so that there might be an increase’ has to be embraced willingly. When there is a decrease but not embraced willingly some debris is left in the path and it is more difficult for what should appear that is ‘greater’. Not greater by status but ‘greater distance’ as in beyond.

Twenty plus years ago. Deeply appreciative. Twenty more years – full of anticipation.

Thoughts on JP

JP… Jordan Peterson. Thoughts on a genius by me!!! Stop laughing. He was described in 2018 by the New York Times as, ‘the most influential public intellectual in the Western world’; in the same newspaper I was described as – Oh no, I am still looking for what they said about me, google clearly is not what it used to be.

In the run up I did a ‘what level is my English test’ (Macmillan Readers Level Test) and came out at B2, with the comment, ‘With an upper intermediate level (B2), you could potentially work in an English-speaking environment, so this practice is very concrete. … It includes tasks that measure your listening and reading skills, as well as your range of English grammar and vocabulary skills.’ Did not surprise me… I can read something if I have listened first to the author, but struggle to read something that is new.

Nice to know I could do something potentially, but I preface this with the knowledge that the comments below are not exactly going to mean he will quickly need to revise what he has written! I watched the now-famous interview by Cathy Newman of Jordan P and realised that there was only one winner. Imagine me interviewing him and catching him out. In my dreams, but in reality might be a bit of a nightmare.

Peterson seems to have a right wing, neo-liberal stance that defends hierarchy (after all lobsters are hierarchical and we are evolved from them…), and refuses to bow at the feet of political correctness, thus insisting that (e.g.) any pay gap between male and female is due to a number of factors, and so will not engage with the ‘we need to correct this with a feminising of the context’ kind of approach.

Anyway what follows will be a few comments that might be way off the mark but what the heck here goes!

Like all (self included) who are committed to, or influenced by, a level of ideology, ideology can determine our response, and we tend to see those who adopt the opposing ideology as wrong, attributing to them aspects that they probably do not fully (or at all) endorse. This was the blatant issue in Cathy Newman’s interview or, if not the issue, it was that he is so incredibly intelligent and good with words that he avoided every trap she set for him. I come at the whole thing from quite a different ideology – his is thought through, mine…????

I am not a Marxist (who knows what I would be if I were able to read intelligently) so do not write to defend ‘Karl’. Peterson states that particularly after the horrors of Stalinism that ‘no thinking person could be a Marxist’. With this as a foundation he goes on to talk about the unreachable ‘equality of outcome’ in all spheres for all people. Something of a straw target, methinks here. Most Marxists (and neo-Marixsts) are opposed to the communism that was exhibited in most communistic states, viewing them as nothing less than state-capitalism, rather than some form of democratic socialism. To propose that there are injustices in the system, that oppressive hierarchies exist does not make someone a Marxist, and certainly not an advocate for Stalinism. I do not see how the French revolution, the American revolution, not to mention the Protestant reformation, could escape his (to me) seeming critique of reacting to the oppressions present within the Western world. Those responses were not motivated by a Marxist ideology!

Peterson suggests he believes in an ‘equality of opportunity’ but not that of ‘equality of outcome’. The latter he says is the drum beat of the left, and into that he (rightly) says that gender is one factor among a number that means the outcome is one of consistent pay differentials and opportunities between males and females in the working world. It seems that one suggestion he makes is that females should be less agreeable(!!) and then there would be more females in the positions where they are not currently present. He also claims that there is no, or insufficient, empirical evidence to suggest where there is a feminisation of the environment there is any shift.

He is right to oppose a solution if it were based on a simplistic analysis such as he seems to suggest is made by feminists. He is right to oppose an imposition from (the left) on the rest, thus insisting on pc speech while silencing freedom of speech. However… oh the word ‘however’. By responding as he does one of those factors (gender) that is an acknowledged factor (even by him) that affects pay differentials is effectively silenced. When I read Scripture God responds to the voice from the oppressed, the marginalised, the ones who are resisting the voice of those who are in a hierarchical position and are holding that position to perpetuate keeping others in their subjected position. If gender is one of the factors then that has to be addressed, and the critique from those who are on the ‘underside’ needs to direct the dialogue not those who are in the power position.

It brings me to his justification of hierarchy. In reality all people believe in ‘hierarchy’ in the sense that no-one suggests that children are ‘equal’ to parents, to teachers. Most also believe in some authorities that need be submitted to (it is not police that is objected to, for example, but any police abuse of power). To suggest that we should expect – from the lobster and up – hierarchies but not critique the kind / the effect of current hierarchies, nor consider that the healthy changes that have taken place in history with shifts in hierarchies (slavery, for example) seems to me lacking in real openness. From my little world, the challenge currently is that of the nature of power and how it is exercised, the kind of power that is rooted in Imperialism seems to be in total conflict with the Jesus-model of ‘not so among you’.

He is both helpful and unhelpful when he critiques the scapegoating of a system. He is helpful in that if we live with a blaming culture there is no progress, so we are to take responsibility for ourselves. However, it remains that opportunities are not equal, the system is biased in favour of some. The level of education that can be accessed, the level of finances inherited, the context one lives within all present us with boundaries. There are always wonderful stories of people who made it out of a difficult situation, who rose to the ‘top’ (what kind of word is that?) in spite of their background. Yet the majority with those challenges do not, and more importantly, cannot follow suit. (This has always been the case in the imperial system, there are enough testimonies to the freedom the empire offers to perpetuate the myth.)

I have no doubt that a number of people (young men in particular) have found his ’12 rules’ incredibly life changing. However (however, again?), however to consider that what is present in our society, in the light of the Gospel vision, is defensible I do not consider that we should think of the book nor his contributions as giving us much sight into what we should be pushing into.

I rest my case… all written at a B2 level, so cannot be opposed!

New Zoom Group

I am looking to start a new Zoom discussion group in January. It will either be evenings or weekend. One chapter a week.

Details of what goes on:

I am probably looking for 2-4 more people to make the group viable. So far (so don’t let the side down!!!!!!!!) the discussions have been very diverse, provocative and helpful. I am not looking for people to agree with me, nor those who are totally opposed, but where there is sufficient room for mutual exploration. Obviously one has to have a copy of the book!

Let me know if this is of interest.

(I will also be starting groups on Significant Other from January, but I consider that the first book needs to have been read first.)

Letting People In

Compassion Fatigue

A new post by Gaz

As a self proclaimed introvert, I have had to learn to find the sweet fruits that are within relationships and social environments. There is much written about such animals as myself and our need for ebb and flow, to flow out and to retreat back to the place of nurture. It is a necessary but also most bizarre dance to have to learn and navigate lest we become isolated, limited and over domesticated by our chosen cave, because the wild, the unscheduled happenings, the joyous being acted upon by others, is beyond our door.

I remember doing mainstream counselling against the advice of my sectarian Christian counter parts, since it was insufficiently sanctified (controlled and safe). 

I chose to be stretched on many fronts, my openness, my vulnerabilities and imposed limitations of the culture of my chosen faith. In year two we had to choose a working partner for the year and submit to the lecturers why we were making such a selection. Mine was that I wanted to be paired with a female, since such things were not permitted in my world (having been told as a youth pastor that you meet a female co worker with the door open and if you have to be in the same car, she sits in the back). 

I was very Southern in my cultural trappings and she was exceptionally Northern, it was awesome to spend time with her and bare our souls in the context of our work objectives. We needed to attend a long weekend away twice a year to get the sufficient number or course hours in and on this one occasion my co-worker did not show up. In the sessions I was feeling withdrawn and unable to engage, and at one moment I was triggered by the session and needed to go sit outside and simply cry. After a while the lecturer came and sat with me and said to me “you don’t really ‘do’ people do you, but your trying to let them in. Is there anything different about this time away which has gotten under your skin, reached into your insides?”

I had no idea really, as I was experiencing something deep in my being which was outside my rational minds ability to control, supress or articulate. “ I am aware that your co-worker of several months isn’t here… could it be that you have let someone in, that you are feeling the loss of them in this part of our journey together”? The snot and tears that ensued suggested that she was on the money, on target and correct.  

What she said next was transformative for me. “ I feel that the kind of person you are, but also your journey so far, has made you able to get by and survive without allowing too many people to get into your insides. What you don’t realise is that you have found a way to survive but to truly live, you have need of people, and what you are experiencing is loss, and even in this moment, grief because they are not here. To be complete, you have to let others in, and perhaps at times, carry one another”.

These days I work helping those who are burning out working with refugees who are serving them through legal support or even the provision of food. Almost without exception it is because they are letting people, and their stories in.

What they are experiencing is called secondary trauma, where an aspect of what you hear from another, becomes your own and you have to process, heal and recover from what you have let in. Keeping people out comes at a price, and so does letting them in.

Perhaps, aside from my created personality type, there was a fear of letting people in for me, perhaps somewhere I had allowed this and it cost me too much, perhaps I didn’t know how deep within us this sits, where ‘letting people’ and their stories in actually resides within us. So my need to self manage had created what became too much distance. It is, after all, a dance of ebb and flow and frequent imbalance.

For a Christian this is problematic since if we are alive, at all on our insides, we are driven by a God given compassion. Compassion is deeply profound and we need to learn to manage it and walk with it with an understanding of where compassion begins and where compassion resides. I have personally had to learn the dance of compassion, the dance of proximity to others, the dance of like, love and loss, which were once kept in a box under lock and key. Today I am learning how to truly live.

So what does it mean to let people in, in a way that is productive, life giving at a mutual level and does not tip the balance towards destructive?

The Hebrew word for Compassion is Rachamim, it is derived from the word Rechem, which is the word for Womb … and there you have it. 

There is nothing shallow about allowing our compassion and love for others to creep into our insides, because in reality this is the place that the feeling began, in the most intimate place of carrying another life through aspects of need and growth. Does it cost, absolutely, but rewards also. Does it cause us pain and need of recovery yes, but life in equal measure.

No Comment

I was sent a long (spelt looooooooooooong) message from someone who does not live in the USA asking me to forward it to contacts. It was a long explanation as to how much good Trump had done and how Biden is not going to be good for the USA, and written in very strong terms. I replied saying I could not forward it, and not because I am anti-Trump. I also could not forward such a message if the content was reversed.

Such messages do not help bring about a level of understanding of one another, but simply increase the polarisation. There are those who are extremists, but most people see themselves as pretty much in the centre. My centre for some is extreme! Gayle and I have been called communists when in the USA! For those who believe that health care is a privilege to be paid for we are extreme left! From my position on the spectrum others are extreme right. (In Spain where I am able to vote I vote for what the media often terms as ‘extreme left’, I am told most evangelicals are now leaning toward the ‘(extreme) right’. Votes are never easy – the party who tends to get my vote are pro-choice. That is not a comfortable position but I find many other parties are not pro-life once the life is born – that too is not comfortable if the X goes against their name.) There are extremists on both left and right but for the most part people simply want something better than what is here. The important part is not where we are on the spectrum but how we relate to those of a different persuasion.

I could not forward the message because there was nothing redemptive in it and it can only sow into the divide (again the documentary ‘The Social Media’ is an eye opener).

Second, not only do I not live in the USA but I am not responsible for her. Many things in the world disturb us and we can feel responsible but powerless. It leads more to criticism than effectiveness (I see no issue with being disturbed and as a result having an opinion, but taking responsibility for something is considerably more helpful). Whatever we mean by ‘the Lord spoke to me’, the Lord spoke to me one day saying that I was not responsible for the USA and I needed to leave that in the hands of those who were taking responsibility. It was a release, but also pushed me to take responsibility for what was – in measure – landing on my lap. If responsible I have a right of input, of say. Ever been tempted to criticise the parenting of someone else? For that reason I have never been able to claim that I was a ‘good’ father, nor for the same reason a ‘good’ husband.

In the flow of reading the LOOOOOONG message, footsteps came up our apartment block. There on the door was an eleven year old. He came in for about an hour. I had a Zoom call lined up. Into my incredibly important life he came.

Make the connection, Martin.

Pray for the future of a land – and maybe we are not doing too well when we consider how things are for many people, but pray for the future and at least make some space for a person born in the land and in the future will fill space after I have gone from here.

So back to my WhatsApp. One candidate might be much better than the other. I might have an opinion on that… but I need to be able to see an eleven year old as through the eyes of his creator / redeemer. Resent him coming in and disturbing me, send the WhatsApp (or an opposite one) to whoever. I hope I am better than that. I hope we all are.

Social Dilemma

Biased - me? Never!

We recently watched this film ‘The Social Dilemma’. Frightening as it exposes the algorithms that give us feeds that are in line with our tastes / ‘biases’. So if I read news feeds, social media ensures that what I read is in line with my political bias. The term ‘fake news’ is so abused, but if I read conspiracy items aligned to one side of the argument I will receive yet more items confirming the conspiracy. Eventually my rightness will be confirmed by many voices, and I will be closed to any contrary voice – indeed I will not even be able to read them as they will not be fed to me. If I do come across any it will instantly be discerned as ‘fake news’. All driven by advertising so as I get it all for free. Free as in ‘at the cost of my own soul’.

I would love to be analysed as to what I read and why. I am not on social media – yes this will be linked to a facebook page – but I am never on facebook, never read if anyone leaves a comment there (well maybe I have read one or two this year). I am not on twitter, dah, dah, dah. But I am still pretty sure that pure Mr. Scott is not exempt.

If I was (just by way of example!) of a left-leaning politics my feed would be hyper at this time in the USA pre-election. (Coming from Europe I am not sure what with as Mr. B running is anything but left wing… even the suggestions is that former president Mr. Ob was more right than many of his predecessors from the Republican party!) If I was (and this time it is genuinely by way of example) of a right wing persuasion my feed would be biased in the other direction all-together. The result – the divide is exaggerated; civil war at one level or another. [BTW I suggest that Jesus would label all war as civil war – war against ourselves and fellow humans.]

I have to confess that once we make an alignment we are in great danger. If we do not realise that we are biased and find it hard to hear the opposite we will soon be in trouble. (We were privileged – now almost two years ago to have a conservative, anti-Brexit person staying with us. So good to hear from them. So hard to listen, but I think we managed to listen.)

So we are biased. The ‘other’ is biased. The question we ask is ‘are you for us or for the other?’

If we are to sow any seed that has any element of the Gospel in it there has to be seeds of love, respect and peace. Once we sow anything that is dehumanising we have lost the plot. A call to pick up arms (literal), or to revert to using the arms of hate speech (and maybe words are more powerful than arms as hate words fashion arms and they become more lethal as a result) can never be used.

The difference that has to mark us out cannot be what news feeds do we receive. The bias was already there, social media just exaggerates it. The difference has to be love. And if love can be present there is room for faith and hope.


Azahar, COVID, Militia...

In the next few days I will have a guest writer here, Gayle, who will post about a dream she had recently. I have a few ‘key’ dreams per year that help me understand some aspect or I gain a new perspective. There is a common ‘place’ I visit in dreams and when there gain an insight I have never had before, so the dream always contains a surprise. The element of newness and surprise is always underlined in that those present do not get the revelation at all, and the place is known for the prophetic and response to God. We all see in part and given the nature of the people at the place not getting the revelation it symbolically shows there is always new revelation. A few a year, but Gayle has many. We have our apartment in Oliva resulting from two dreams she had, including one that had her typing in a (previously unknown) Spanish word ‘azahar’ into a google map to show someone where we live. 700metres away from our apartment in Oliva on the sign pointing toward our apartment is the very word ‘azahar’ (orange blossom).

Earlier this year we were sent a dream concerning the COVID virus and its path. The person who sent it had been praying about two things a) COVID and b) how would God communicate times and seasons in an urban / Western setting (in contrast to Pharaoh and the agricultural setting, with cows and grain).

The dream has been for us very key in understanding the phases the virus is currently and will go through.

Anyway… dreams. They are fascinating. Recently we read of one that showed the rise of civil war in their land, complete with militia on the streets, with the twist that God was standing behind these militia to give them success, effectively returning ‘the nation to God’. Wow! How does one interpret that?

Dreams can be from God and show us what we had never considered before. They can be from ‘God’ (maybe, or from our own ‘soul’) showing us more about ourselves than about God’s desire / plan for what is to come.

Our theological convictions of course affect how we interpret a dream. If violence is one of God’s normal tools, and there is a time to pick up the sword for the Gospel we will go one way with the interpretation… if the path of non-violent resistance is seen as the Jesus’ (third-)way then we will go another way. (Someone known to some of the readers of this blog, Charles Strohmer, has responded to the theology of ‘get a sword’ very eloquently here):

We need to be challenged concerning our beliefs when we present a dream, we need to be open to them being about us, not a ‘God-dream’. We all see in part, and the lack of sight is often springing from my distorted alignment and any allegiance that sits alongside my allegiance to Christ (hence my view on not taking an oath in court or elsewhere).

All the above is to give a little backdrop to the guest writer of all guest writers who will have fingers to keyboard probably by the end of the week. The dream seems to be very timely in this epoch, and is to be weighed.

From certainty to uncertainty and then…

Longing for certainty?

I have just completed the first round of zoom calls related to ‘Humanising the Divine’… (BTW I now hear an inner voice saying ask them why they have not yet bought this life changing piece of work? Quickly squashed by ‘Life-changing… really?’). OK no more advertising. Second BTW have you seen ‘The Social Dilemma‘? It is huge eye opening exposé of how vulnerable we are and how society after society is being manipulated to be polarised. It also fits with the preface with my confession that I am biased and believe certain things cos it suits me, and I can defend myself with the Bible… until someone comes along who knows a lot more than me!

I have been very moved by hearing the journeys that people have been on and the integrity with which they have responded to God provoked by crises or difficulties. It highlights what I suggest that the major ways in which we change is not simply through a ‘God-encounter’ but through how we respond (to God) when issues come up. A number spoke of the days (past) of certainty.

I have set out two aspects (borrowing from Robert Johnston) for certainty. The means of reconciliation to God is via the cross, and the authority for what we believe is Scripture. That faith cannot be expressed in a box, not in a statement of faith that someone signs. (Penal substitution, inerrancy, millennial rule etc., are all interpretations of Scripture, not teaching of Scripture, but are often written into statements of faith – on none of the above could I sign such a statement.) Those two certainties that I am settled on do not settle too much beyond that point. A Calvinist believing in limited atonement (Jesus only died for the elect) and a Universalist both tick the above two boxes… Not to mention the more challenging issues of ethics, such as a view on marriage or divorce.

If we have an evangelical background we will probably have come through to a place of confidence in a set of beliefs. That is such an advantage. However, there nearly always arise questions that push back against those beliefs. A common one of course is to do with justice and the ‘problem of evil’: if God foreknew… what about all the ethnic cleansing in the OT… etc.

The questions can of course be much more personal, particularly when we face issues that are very close to us relationally.

I have observed that there is a journey from a narrow certainty, to questions that lead to uncertainty (that is why I think the context for this uncertainty are the two ‘certain’ points above – cross and Scripture). It might be nice to think that there is a journey from certainty to uncertainty and back to a mature certainty. Nice thought!

I actually think the critical part of the journey is from certainty to uncertainty… and to a new place (and space) of openness. Not open to any wind that blows, but open in the context of non-defensiveness, humility, and less motivated by an anxiety to nail things down. Actually a healthy place to get to.

I know less now than I knew years ago. But I know more about myself, understand more about others, and although I still try to squeeze God into my perfectly formed box I am aware that there is a mystery in God and s/he is more outside my box than inside. A God I have found (cos s/he found me) so I have to on a daily basis get on my proverbial bike and go in search of the elusive God who is present everywhere.

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