This morning, I had a wonderful, encouraging conversation with my father. While drinking coffee—a decaf latte for him, and a Colombian pour-over for myself—we discussed the search for truth, and how good it is when we find people who share the same interest for the intricacies and depth of thought. His encouragement to me is the inspiration for this post.
My father and I are very similar, and at times, very different. We come from a long lineage of educators, artists, writers, and creatives, and as such, the desire for knowledge is in and of itself exhilarating, but so to is turning that desire into something practical, or meaningful. Hence, my father and I, even in areas of difference, are constantly seeking that actualization of truth, knowledge, goodness, or beauty. Like the mechanic building a beautiful vehicle, the complexity and organism as such is entrancing, as is the effort to piece it together. Yet, to the eventual owner of the vehicle, such complexity is largely irrelevant to the finished product as such. The work is certainly valuable, but what matters, for most, is that the vehicle functions (and looks good!).
Prior to our time this morning, I communicated to my father several theological areas that my mind had changed, two of which I’ve discussed in some detail online, through social media, and in recent podcast episodes. In short, the nature of human language and questions of interpretation push me out of traditional speech about God, and into something more ambiguous, “postmodern”, or fluid. I am hesitant with traditional metaphysics, and as important as Scripture is to the Christian faith, I am also hesitant with the common language regarding its nature and efficacy.
My father, knowing me well and sharing the same thirst for truth, affirmed my quest for truth, full stop. Yet, he reminded me to never forget to make it simple. Not simple in terms of reductionism or pithy, “tweetable” minutia, but simple in the same manner that one looks at a beautiful vehicle, and is mesmerized by the completed object as it is; the type of paint used, the metal used to make the nuts, bolts, and the bushings holding it together are essential to the vehicle, but to the majority of people who aren’t like the mechanic, it isn’t what they see, or necessarily need to know. It is a question of humility and knowing one’s audience.
This is something that I, admittedly, struggle with, and so has my father in his own time in ministry and education. We, like the mechanic, are fascinated by the complexity of the vehicle, but are forced to make it practical. Sometimes, it simply is a matter of affirming the beauty of said vehicle, or making a point of getting others to see that same beauty, without burdening them with the complexity, important and good as it is. Of course, there are many who would appreciate the complexity, and want to know more, but the lesson I am learning (following in my father’s footsteps, as he did with his father) is that humility and simplicity often go further than complexity.
As such, the title of this post is rather simple: Isn’t it beautiful? All that I say, write, and advocate for is the beauty of Christ. No matter how far I stretch human language, and no matter how much I rub against the boundaries of orthodoxy, I am convinced that Jesus is Lord. The beauty and simplicity of that statement is, of course, supported by incredible depth, complexity, and meaning; more often than not, however, I just need to remind people of that same beauty and simplicity. When I speak of inerrancy, or God as “event”, I must also temper those phrases—impregnated as they are with meaning—with the radical simplicity of what I am trying to get across, which is that it really is all about Jesus.
So, to you, the reader of this post, please find people who will not only affirm your quest for truth, but will help hone your quest and remind you to not get lost in the proverbial weeds, fun as that is at times! There is beauty in simplicity, and the complexity under the surface is good too, but it’s not for everyone; in humility, know your audience, and serve them well. Isn’t it beautiful to be reminded of how simple, and very good, it can be?