2 minute read

An Untamed God: Learning to accept the supernatural

I have believed in God as long as I can remember. I was blessed to be raised in a home where Christian faith wasn’t just talked about, it was lived consistently and honestly. That made it easier for me to have faith. I believed not only that God loved me and Jesus died for me, I believed that God did everything the Bible said and more. My belief in the transcendent, supernatural God was complete and unambiguous. I had the simple, humble faith of a child, the kind Jesus said was the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18). And then I grew older. With the growth of abstract reasoning and exposure to new thoughts and relationships, I began to ask questions…lots of them. Some were pointless like “If God can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy he can’t lift it? Can God make a square circle?” I came to see pretty quickly that these are just word games, artificially created paradoxes that have nothing to do with real faith. But there were more profound questions to come, questions like “If God is all-good, and all-powerful why is there evil and suffering in the world? How could Jesus be both fully God and fully human? How does prayer work?” I have spent my adult Christian life seeking to answer questions like these, studying philosophy and apologetics, completing two seminary degrees in the process. I have invested the largest chunk of my vocational career to helping others think through faith questions, teaching at a Bible college for 20 years and with FamilyLife Canada for 10. And here’s what I have concluded:

God is not only greater than we think, God is greater than we can think.

 Read that again because it is important… not just for you and for me but for the Church, especially in the Western world. Most of us reading this have been shaped by the Western worldview which is predominantly rationalistic and scientific. It leads us to disbelieve anything we can’t rationally explain. Part of that is good and healthy. We shouldn’t accept things uncritically and we don’t need to shy away from hard questions about Christian faith. Truth can withstand our skepticism and doubt. But here’s what can happen: first, we reduce God to the size of our own capacity to think and understand — a God we can explain and manage and even control — and then finally and tragically, we conclude that this shrunken God is unworthy of our worship and our obedience. I fear that the God so many in the Western world have rejected is not the God of the Bible but a god of our own creation. A completely safe, rational, explainable God. A tame God. An un-supernatural God. The second half of my Christian journey has been marked by a conscious effort to let God be God, unbound by the limits of human thought and language. I began to focus a little less on my learning and reasoning and prayed for God to overwhelm me with things I did not and could never understand. I began to pray for miracles again. I read books of systematic theology less and the Bible more. And I committed to believing it — all of it — including the supernatural parts. I still question and likely always will. I have a strong rational inclination. But when I reject the supernatural, when I refuse to believe in something simply because I can’t get my mind around it, the answer isn’t more rationalization — it’s more faith. By all means, let’s keep studying and debating and thinking about the great questions of life and faith - but let us also live in wonder and worship.

God does things too marvelous for people to understand. He does too many miracles to count! –  Job 9:10 
NEIL JOSEPHSON is the National Director with FamilyLife Canada. Neil, together with his wife Sharol, lead FamilyLife Canada. Neil loves to learn, teach and write about anything related to marriage, family and Christian discipleship. Married since 1978, Neil and Sharol have two great sons, two awesome daughters-in-law and four of the sweetest grandchildren ever.