Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Theory of Everything

In the field of theoretical physics the holy grail is the "Theory of Everything". There are lots of theories about the nature of matter - from sub-atomic to the massive interactions of galactic proportions. But most physicists are trying to put together an underlying theory that explains all matter, the most fundamental thing that makes all of the universe what it is (I have no concept of what the maths behind that might look like even though I do try to wade through papers on String Theory, Dark Matter, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics).

As a christian I've always wanted to have a "Theory of Everything". This may sound really odd to most, but it does my head in trying to piece together all the different theologies and doctrines, the contradictions of scripture, methodology, eschatology - so many different thoughts, processes, ways of being, doing, praying, worshipping - 6000 years or so of God interacting with us and still no definitive form of unified christian thought.

I look at all the denominations, even the cults that sit on the edge of Christendom, and see threads of truth, at times intertwining with each other and other times tearing the fabric apart. I can understand how so many thousands of different beliefs and interpretations can exist, our sole source of doctrine is the bible, a book of amazingly detailed and complex accounts of mans relationship to God. There is so much room for interpreting these words into any given culture, paradigm, personal circumstances, mental state, you name it, that it makes me wonder if God really knows what he's doing!

Thus my desire for a Theory of Everything that could bring it all together. I haven't found one yet, but every so often a piece drops into place and something of that big picture starts to make sense. So here's a bit of where I'm coming from, bearing in mind that I may also be as far off the track as our friends from Wako (well hopefully not that far off).

You can take it for granted the the most important thing is having the the eyes of the Holy Spirit when reading scripture. Without his guidance we are totally up the creek, because the bible is, on the surface, just a bunch of stories written over a long time that have some common strands. Only the Holy Spirit can show us the truth behind the words and indeed show us the living word himself. So many questions could be answered immediately by the assumption that most people/groups don't have the Holy Spirit to guide them, thus the disorder and differences. And yet most proclaim the basic principles of Christianity and on close inspection, are obviously living godly lives and are blessed by Him. But then there are huge differences (enough to cause devastating splits in movements, broken relationships, damaged lives, and even in the past, wars). So what's going on?

The bible is the complete representation of God in a written document. If someone wrote a book that was a complete written representation of me (heaven forbid), they could read all the different chapters at different times and think, so this is what Jim is like! Then they might go back to one chapter about my murky past and focus on that for a while and think, "hmm, not so sure about this guy. If that's what he's really like then I don't know about the other stuff". Or they could read an amazing chapter about peace, love and happiness and totally forget about the other stuff that makes up the totality of who I am (that's a bit simplistic but I hope you get the point).

So maybe when we read the bible, first up, we need to read it to get the big picture. We have to know WHO God is as the underlying factor in all our understanding. All those books and chapters about all those different people, seeing some part of God's character, sometimes at the expense of other parts. The thread of Gods character starts to become apparent through it all. The amazing, complex character that created us, who made us in that same image (that's scary).

For me, as a christian for nearly 40 years, who's read the bible consistently through that time, done bible college, read zillions of books, numerous conferences etc., the one main thing that comes through is this God that created us as his partners/friends/lovers. It is a consistent theme from the very beginning through to the end. The problem is he had to make us capable of loving him of our own free will, to realise on our own, the extent of his character - his love, power, mercy, grace - his plan for us, our eternal destiny. He couldn't spell it out, swamp us with the whole thing, overload us to the point where we had no choice but to fall on our face and believe, because it would override our free will. The will he gave us to look at something and decide whether for ourselves if we wanted it. To build a unique relationship built totally on the unique character he gave each of us.

Now it gets a bit scary and weird again. That really means that each of us has our own unique relationship with God? Well, the bible seems to indicate that. The problem is how do we have a unique relationship and yet not drift from the written word into crazy Wakos. Well for me, the entirety of the written word is the representation of the living word (cosmic!) - its who God is, who Jesus is. If you chop out bits of a living organism it dies. If we chop out bits of the bible as we try to understand it it dies for us. We then spend our time trying to breath life into the bits we chopped out.

So... as we approach the word with that attitude He will show us the bits that especially relate to us, the parts of His character that will uniquely bless and change us into the wonderful person he designed. Just like if you get to know me there are things you would be attracted to, common interests and so on, and other things that you might say "well I don't understand that but hey, that's what makes you who you are". And we would grow together as friends and over time the bits you are unsure of would start to become clear and you would understand how they fit into who I am and even get to like everything about me (this analogy is beginning to scare me!). you would soon see that that book that was written about me was accurate, but wasn't the same as actually getting to know me as an intimate friend so you would actually understand me!

So that's how it is for God. We can easily take the written word and take all the little bits and never actually take the time to spend with the living word and let him piece them altogether into a unique understanding based on that relationship.

The good thing about this is we can then look to each other, with our own unique relationships and draw insights from each other, and then turn back to Him and say "oh, I didn't know that about you?! how cool!" and add another level of depth to our relationship with him.

Now, my Theory of Everything? Hopefully you can see where I'm heading. RELATIONSHIP! The written word is nothing more and nothing less than a tool to to enter into relationship with the living word, Jesus (Give me some poetic license here thanks, although I think it may be truer than we realise - have to pray about that one...). Our relationship with God is deep, intimate, ever unfolding and is the source of everything to us. All scriptures must be interpreted through that relationship - and that is really scary! What if the relationship is not too good or non-existent? Could explain a lot.

I may have left more questions than answers and I may well get branded a heretic, but that is probably because I need to build more on this subject - and you probably need to read that book about me to understand where I'm coming from (lol, unfortunately God is the author of that book and its definitely not on the best sellers list). I'll write more on this, as time and brain cells allow, as I have left out so much - This is as much for my benefit as yours, as I try to formalise all my rambling! I welcome constructive comments.