We can describe God, but we can never define Him. We can describe aspects of God, but we can never really explain Him.
If the universe is an intelligible machine—and science is the master screwdriver to take it apart—then analysis is the ultimate form of thought, the universal screwdriver. By taking wholes or effects apart into smaller and smaller parts or causes, each of which becomes understandable, analysis renders the universe both knowable and controllable. The fact that to us thinking and analyzing seem to be synonymous suggests how successful modernity has been at marginalizing all other forms of thought–imagination, intuition, pattern recognition, systems thinking, and so on.[i]
The Scriptures use anthropomorphic language and analogy to describe God, but description is never complete. This is amplified when the finite attempts to describe the infinite.
Even among those enamored of the Hebraic, we are plagued by many who insist on analyzing the Scriptures rather than pondering them, failing to realize that in so doing they are practicing the very “Greek” mindset that they so abhor.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for scientific analysis of both things and ideas. However, if we allow scientific analysis to be the only mode of acceptable or honored thinking then we will have lost much of the richness of life.
We face in the Hebraic Roots movement today a crisis. That crisis is two-fold.
On the one side you have those who in attempting to analyze the Scriptures by benefit of their intellect have abandoned what Scripture declares about Yeshua without explaining it. In their quest to be authentically Hebraic they have applied their Hellenistic modes of thinking to the Scriptures and come up with heresy: the idea that Yeshua is fully man, but not fully God.
On the other side we have those who are equally well motivated and equally earnest in their intentions. Also, passionate to defend truth they practice the missteps of our forefathers and attempt to define the particulars of who Yeshua is according to their analysis of Scriptures’ message, thenceforth demanding that all ascribe to their particular creed or confession without regard for the incompleteness of their comprehension. Historically, this emphasis has always resulted in views on Yeshua which emphasize that He was fully God while neglecting the reality that He was fully man.
Though I suspect neither party is cognizant of it, both are being driven by a type of arrogance in regard to their intellect. I can sympathize; particularly for those who are intellectually gifted and thinking oriented it can be very easy to function as if God created us as one big brain. But He didn’t. He created us in His image: body, soul, and spirit.
If we don’t allow our soul (the combination of mind, will and emotions) to be guided equally by the Spirit’s influence on our spirit we will find ourselves effectively declaring that our minds are capable of understanding God on the basis of the finite language He used to communicate to us something about the Infinite.
How tragic! I return again and again to the reality that the very reason I so cling to God, is that I cannot understand Him. If I could comprehend Him, I would not need Him. Glory be to Him Who is incomprehensible to my finite mind! Come Lord Jesus, fill me with the fullness of God that surpasses knowledge, and awaken within me the power of Your Spirit to do Your work in the Kingdom.
[i] McClaren, Brian D. A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.