I remember someone once describing doubts and questions that we have about God being a bit like cracks in the foundation of a building – somewhat daunting and something we try desperately to avoid. But in offering them a bit of TLC, addressing them and mending them we end up with a stronger and more durable foundation.
That’s what Theology Book Group feels a bit like for me – as a small group of us at The Globe Church read and discuss ‘Knowledge of the Holy’ by AW Tozer (a book which works through the attributes of God to elevate the reader’s view of God) it’s easy to turn up fully aware of the cracks which have sprung up while reading. How can we make sure we have a right conception of God? How can we comprehend every aspect of God at once? Is this possible both collectively as a church and individually?! And Tozer doesn’t take the pressure off in any way - reminding us in the opening chapter that what comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
Sometimes it’s a bit frustrating
I mean, one of Tozer’s first chapters focuses on ‘God Incomprehensible’ – literally how God cannot be comprehended. It can be easy to come to Theology Book Group wanting a quick-fix solution to the cracks that have appeared, only to discover that Tozer outs us completely – we want the feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like, when, in reality, we can never fully understand God. So, while we can know God personally through the attributes He has revealed as being true of Himself, God, in his completeness, cannot be wrestled into a nice-looking box, no matter how hard we might try. It’s frustrating!
Sometimes it feels a bit like a slap in the face
And in a strange way, this process of seeing the complex nature of God, and how small we are in wanting to have an easily understandable version of Him, is the process God uses to strengthen and refine our foundations. Take God’s self-sufficiency, which Tozer focuses on in Chapter 3. God is a completely independent being, and while I can know this truth with my head, how often do I truly see myself through this lens - as a dependent being reliant on God? Instead, it’s too easy to assert MY own self-sufficiency. Coming to Theology Book Group is a reminder that I constantly need a perspective shift: that my foundations are built on assumptions that I am bigger than I am, and that this only gives me a small view of God - this can be a painful realisation!
Ultimately it leads to praise
But what can we do but praise? Grace permeates every page of Tozer’s book and I often leave Theology Book Group blown away by God’s kindness in revealing himself to us. How crazy it is that God so magnificent not only reveals his attributes to us through reason but invites us – with minds that are too easily satisfied with a small and controllable version of God and a large version of ourselves– to commune with him personally! Not only that but I’m reminded what a dazzling God we have – a God who is self-sufficient, infinite and utterly holy. Tozer ends each chapter with a prayer of praise or a poem. Nothing seems more fitting than an exclamation-mark filled prayer as we give glory to God for simply being God.
Overall, Theology Book Group has reminded me that while we may go to lengths to try to avoid cracks in our faith foundations, its these cracks which refine and realign our understanding of God; and our worship of God and relationship with him is all the richer for it. Please do join Theology Group as we continue working through Knowledge of the Holy in June or why not choose a book yourself, and read through it with a few people at church? It can be a great way to discuss our questions together and renew our foundations.