When applied to an infinite God, linear logic has extreme limitations. God will always lead us into something much deeper than a linear understanding of who he is.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us,” wrote A. W. Tozer. That’s probably true, but I think there’s an equally true corollary: How we think about God is just as important as what we think about him. And how we think about him is always reflected—for better or worse—in how we talk about him.
Let me explain:
When you’re first learning a subject, you think linearly. If A is true, then B is true. And if A and B are true, then C is true. And so on.
If Socrates taught Plato, and Plato taught Aristotle, and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great, then some of Socrates’ philosophy must have gotten into Alexander.
Or, if Ole Miss beat Alabama, then Memphis beat Ole Miss, then Memphis is better than Alabama, even though we have no idea what would happen if they actually played each other, although we kind of do.
But somewhere along the way, you have to shift into three-dimensional thinking about a subject so you can see the storyline and take in the nuances and realize that A + B would equal C if there were no other variables, but there are so many, with lots of anomalies thrown in, and maybe it isn’t all as explainable as you thought it was.
It’s like the difference between reading an outline of a person’s biography—date of birth, education, marriage and children, career, and so on—and seeing a movie of that person’s life. One can give you facts without telling you much about the person at all. The other gives you flavors and moods and impressions—and much fuller understanding.
The Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day were linear thinkers. Jesus was three-dimensional. They had formulas. He had the big picture. They thought they knew God’s will. He knew the Father.
Many, many Christians today are linear thinkers. If this verse means this, and that verse means that, then of course my conclusion about how they apply is the right one. Kind of like saying Memphis would beat Alabama because of how they fared with a common opponent.
But God will always lead us into something much deeper than a linear understanding of who he is. He leads us into three-dimensional vision, or really even more dimensions than three. He’s drawing us into spiritual realms where we can only understand him not by making broad inferences, as though we were new to the subject, but by experiencing him as he really is.
Marinating in his presence does much more for us than trying to piece together a systematic theology can ever do. Not that there’s anything wrong with systematic theology; linear logic has benefits. It’s just not nearly enough.
That’s why we have to learn to think about God—and talk about him—differently. When applied to an infinite God, linear logic has extreme limitations. It can even lead you away from his will. (Exhibit A: the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.)
So I’ve grown weary of fact-seeking spiritual debates and much more drawn to the senses and moods and ethos of the kingdom. God never asked us to figure him out. He does, however, ask us to know and experience him.
“That’s too subjective!” say some, to which I respond, “Aren’t all real relationships subjective?” (Men, try telling your wife that you want your relationship to be purely fact-based, and you’ll see what I mean.) True, your relationships exist as facts. But they are experienced in 3D with lots of variations and assumptions and impressions and feelings, and you really wouldn’t want it any other way.
Please consider that in your conversations about God and his kingdom.
Though some principles can be helpful, you’ll never arrive at a formula for faith or answered prayer or church leadership or anything else related to his kingdom. Principles at their best can only lead you to a religious system. Three-dimensional immersion leads you to God.
In your relationship with God, expand into every dimension imaginable. Free yourself to explore him fully. And give others the grace to do the same.