Thursday, 17 June 2010

God is not the answer

I recently watched this programme - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p90kk - which was the 6th and final part in BBC Four's "History of Christianity".

It was a fascinating and informative series, but near the end the presenter, Diarmaid MacCulloch, quoted Thomas Aquinas who apparently once said, "God is not the answer, God is the question".  I've done some googling and I can't find when, where or in what context Aquinas said this, so it's difficult to tell exactly what he meant by it.  I did however, find this interesting article on the subject.

I like the idea, mentioned in the article I've just referenced, that God does not "exist" in the sense that anything else exists - instead He is the cause of all existence.  I first came across this idea listening to Pete Rollins at Greenbelt last year, but it's not a new one - in theological discussion God has often been referred to as "the ground of being".

Thinking about questions and answers though, got me pondering that perhaps there are some questions that  actually ask us, more than we ask them.  For example, questions about suffering and the meaning of life.  These are questions that will probably never have complete and satisfactory logical answers, but perhaps our response to these questions is in the end more important than any answers we might find.  These questions don't just challenge our intellect, they call on our deepest emotional and spiritual resources - how will you respond to this question?  What will you do about it?  How will it affect the way you live your life?

Is God a question?  If so, what sort of answers are there to this kind of question, or should we even expect to find any?  The Christian God is at once transcendent (far above our human understanding) and also immanent (with us and accessible to us).  He is the question that keeps asking us, but He is also the answer that we will discover as we keep asking the question.  Ultimately the answer is not an intellectual one.  This is a question that calls right down into our very beings and re-unites us - if we dare to keep asking - with the ground of being - with God himself.  God may not be the "answer" in the conventional sense, but He is always there - the reason, who is waiting to be discovered!

1 comment:

  1. I have also just watched this series presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Fascinating. I agree with your views and his last quote by Thomas Acquinas at the end, got me googling too. It reminds me of Viktor Frankl's "Man's search for Meaning". He say the same thing, Life (or God) asks us what is the meaning of life and its our response to it that question that makes all the difference.

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