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Monday, June 8

Today’s Readings: Psalm 2; 1 Samuel 9:15-10:1; John 16:1-11; 2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Psalm 70

When we are reading the stories contained in the Hebrew Scriptures (what many call the Old Testament), it’s easy to get so drawn into the details of the story that one misses important theological issues that lie below the surface. Take today’s story from 1 Samuel, for example. In that passage, we are told that God – in speaking of Saul – told Samuel: “He’s the one, the man I told you about. This is the one who will keep my people in check” (1 Samuel 9:17 from The Message). Those words make it pretty clear that Saul was God’s chosen one to lead Israel. Now, let’s hit the pause button for a moment and lift up a religious saying alongside this choice: “God, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” There are a thousand variations on this saying that make the same point: “God never changes.” And yet if we fast forward in time, Saul doesn’t remain King of Israel until his death. Eventually, Saul falls out of favor with God and is replaced by David. Folks who want to hold on to the singular theological perspective suggesting God never changes might respond to this situation in a couple different ways. First, they might respond by saying, “God didn’t change. SAUL changed.” True. But then this raises questions about two other theological issues: God’s omniscience and God’s omnipotence (put in regular words, “Did God not know that Saul would fail to live up to the faith God placed in him?” and “If God has complete control over every aspect of our lives, why did God allow Saul to get off track?”). So why am I talking about all of this abstract theological stuff today? Because it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves about the limitations of our theologies as human beings. You see our individual theologies represent our attempts to take the Infinite (God) and translate God into finite (i.e.human) terms. No matter how careful we are in our attempts to create a systematic way of thinking about God that way of thinking will at some point fail to capture to complexities and mystery of God. So am I suggesting that we human beings abandon all our attempts to theologically reflect on God? Absolutely not! It’s crucial that each of us develop ways to reflect on the nature of God as we experience God. What is equally crucial, however, is that we have a GREAT deal of humility as we hold on to our personal theology and recognize its inherent limitations. If we all had such humility in terms of our beliefs, I believe our faith would truly make the world a better place. Til next time…

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