In last week’s blog I began to explore what we mean when we describe God as a mystery. What kind of mystery are we considering? A puzzle or riddle that must be solved? We’ll have to come back to this question.

For the time being it makes sense to affirm that if God is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, God cannot be solved” like we would solve a puzzle or an Agatha Christie novel. What if the mystery of God is not a question to which we must find an answer? What if the mystery of God is the answer itself? What if the mystery of God becomes an answer in Jesus that we can explore ever more deeply for all of eternity? 

Consider for a moment the word theology.” Behind the English word is the Greek word theos, which we translate as God.” Now, the Greek word theos need not imply a capital G; ancient Greeks used theos to describe Greek gods such as Zeus and Athena. A household deity or an idol may be a theos.

When Christians use the word theology,” though, we have a definite God in mind, the God made known to us in Jesus Christ, the God we worship as the holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we approach this God, the God we wish to study and worship is no mere item of interest, however complex; no impersonal object, however alive or active. No, the God Christians worship is the supreme, living Subject, not just a person, but the Person, indeed three persons in eternal communion with one another. From the creative touch of the Trinity all other persons are derived, including all who would study and worship God! 

So, to think of God as mystery, to study God as mystery, to worship God as mystery, is much more that to get the correct answers on a theology exam, or to study a problem in order to solve it. Persons are never problems to be solved (even if, in our weaker moments, we are tempted to treat them as if they were). 

Think of a marriage. A man wants to understand his wife not so that he can fix her or solve her, but so that he can love her. He wants to appreciate her more fully, to perceive intricate subtleties and beauties that are not readily evident to a superficial glance. Indeed, if his marriage needs fixing,” it is because he has spent more time trying to fix his wife than trying to know and love her. If this is true of a relationship between human persons whose life and significance are on a par with one another, how much more will it be the case when we as creatures approach the Person who is the living God, the creator of all persons, his beloved image-bearers? 

To know God as mystery will involve right answers. We never want to abandon the distinction between what is true about God and what is false. Yet our answers involve no ordinary created object or person. God is not a puzzle to be solved. To relate rightly to God is not to analyze or classify or master, but to worship.

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