If you think you understand, it isn’t God. (Soren Kierkegaard)
This is one of my favorite quotes, and one of my favorite concepts. I think the reason I like this concept so much is because it always keeps me on my toes. It never lets me feel like I’ve arrived, like I can just sit back and relax because I have everything figured out.
A constant theme throughout Scripture is that God is above and beyond what we can comprehend. Descriptive language of God is limited to our finite vocabulary, and can never do justice to the actuality of God’s character. We cannot understand God, and that’s the beauty of it – if we could understand Him/Her (gender characterizations of God are a good example of the boundaries of language), why would we worship Him/Her? If we could understand God, wouldn’t that make Him/Her a human creation?
That’s one of the biggest problems with fundamentalism (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc). Fundamentalists claim to possess the absolute truth on God’s character, personality, likes & dislikes, and will. In doing so, they make God an image of themselves – all their prejudices and stereotypes are glued to God, then they worship themselves. And it’s not just conservatives that can be fundamentalists. Many religious liberals can be fundamentalists and glue their prejudices to God as well (I have been guilty of it).
Let’s never assume we know something so well that we start worshiping our knowledge rather than the mysterious Creator.
Author, educator, pastoral counselor and ordained interfaith minister Dr. Paul Daniel Payne served as the founding pastor of Open Doors Metropolitan Community Church in Seoul, South Korea, and as director of faith formation and communications at Harvard (Mass.) Unitarian Universalist Church. Author of The Fellowship of Yeshua: Communing With Your Ascended Soul Guides, he earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, a master’s degree in theological studies from Nations University, and a doctorate in pastoral counseling.