Every Tues­day for the next few weeks, I invite you to con­tem­plate the mys­tery of God with me. A cou­ple of years ago, my col­league Steve Boy­er and I wrote a book titled The Mys­tery of God: The­ol­o­gy for Know­ing the Unknow­able, pub­lished by Bak­er Aca­d­e­m­ic. In these blog posts, I want to share with you some of our thoughts. Occa­sion­al­ly I may offer direct excerpts, in oth­er cas­es I may para­phrase some­thing we wrote, or offer a riff on one of the book’s ideas.

In the Intro­duc­tion, Steve describes a walk from his home in Wayne to East­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, where we both taught at the time we wrote the book. It was a bright, sun­ny day, and Steve was struck by how the sun’s light illu­mi­nat­ed so many things as he made his way to East­ern. As Steve describes things, “…there was a great deal to see on such a bright morn­ing: squir­rels run­ning skill­ful­ly along tele­phone wires, small birds peck­ing in the grass for a bit of break­fast, chil­dren wait­ing for a bus to take them to school, an elder­ly woman work­ing in her gar­den before the day became so hot, a man in a tie climb­ing into his auto­mo­bile, a pro­ces­sion of cyclists in their col­or­ful bik­ing attire.” Steve was able to see all these won­ders of a nor­mal day because the sun was shin­ing bright­ly. It was indeed a beau­ti­ful, sun­ny day.

Do you remem­ber days such as this? I par­tic­u­lar­ly recall a day – I must have been six or sev­en – in Phoenix. The sun was shin­ing bright­ly as I stepped out the door. I remem­ber my moth­er warn­ing me, Enjoy the sun’s bright­ness, but nev­er look at it direct­ly.” Of course, then, the first thing I did – after assur­ing myself that my moth­er wasn’t watch­ing me — was to look direct­ly at the sun, the very sun whose light enabled me to see every­thing else. For a brief moment I saw a bright, shin­ing disk, and then every­thing began to turn dark. I quick­ly looked away, hav­ing learned my les­son. Some­how I knew, even as a lit­tle boy, that if I kept look­ing at the sun, some­thing very bad would hap­pen. I’d go blind. I sim­ply was not cre­at­ed to look at the star whose light made every­thing around me look so clear. 

Here, as Steve puts it, is a rather iron­ic sit­u­a­tion. Not only is the sun a key ele­ment in a pleas­ant spring morn­ing, but it is also the one ele­ment that allows me to see all of the oth­er ele­ments that con­tribute to the pleas­ant­ness.” The sun was mak­ing all things vis­i­ble to Steve as he walked, yet if Steve looked at it direct­ly, he was imme­di­ate­ly blind­ed. The only way Steve man­aged to even glance at the sun was through the foliage offered by near­by trees. 

As we explore the mys­tery of God togeth­er, I’d like you to keep Steve’s expe­ri­ence in mind, along with what hap­pened to me as a lit­tle boy in Phoenix. I think a bit of the­o­log­i­cal pon­der­ing is called for. C.S. Lewis would agree. He observes: We believe that the sun is in the sky at mid­day in sum­mer not because we can clear­ly see the sun (in fact we can­not) but because we can see every­thing else.” 

Lewis’s point is clear: there may be cer­tain things that are in them­selves too great to under­stand but that nev­er­the­less enable us to under­stand less­er things with remark­able clarity.

Catch up with all of Chris Hal­l’s blog posts on Con­ver­sa­tions with Chris.

This series has been adapt­ed from Steven D. Boy­er and Chris Hall’s The Mys­tery of God: The­ol­o­gy for Know­ing the Unknow­able. Hun­gry for more? Please vis­it Bak­er Aca­d­e­m­ic for more information. 

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

View Selections & Learn More >