Recovering Mystery (#830)
Has Christianity unwittingly tamed the Lion of Judah and lost the mystery and wonder that draws us into a life-changing relationship with God himself? That's what one email proposes and in the last podcast of 2021, Wayne and Kyle interact with that email and contemplate how easy it is for us to retreat to the illusion of the safe ground we pretend to control. However, removing the mystery and wonder of a relationship with the transcendent steers us into stagnant waters. Engaging him, we touch a reality far beyond our understanding that can shape us in ways that can't be codified in doctrines and principles alone. Are we willing to risk that journey? Jesus warned us that what humans value highest, God finds detestable. So, how do we embrace the transcendent and find those who can help us walk that journey without taking the mystery out of it.
If you want to read Jack's letter Wayne posted it on his blog today
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Okay, so now I have to listen to that all over again…That letter was awesome!!! I’m on my fourth run through “He Loves Me” And I’m giving copies of it for Christmas….and I will miss you over the holidays….but thank you for giving me the thoughts that I need!!! Merry Christmas to both of you and enjoy your families ! See you in 2022!
This podcast reminded me of a book Wayne mentioned years ago on the podcast: “Paradox Lost: Rediscovering the Mystery of God” by Richard P. Hansen. It’s hard to say in a comment here why I’ve appreciated this book so much, but I just wanted to share a quote this podcast reminded me of:
The Western World has been successful at solving problems. Theologian John Leith suggests our “success has become the source of temptation to believe not only that all problems can, in fact as well as in principle, be solved but also that life itself can be understood and handled as a problem.” When we think this way, there is no room left for mystery, even God’s mystery.
Unlike problems, mystery is unsolvable both in principle and in practice. Problems can be objectified and scrutinized, broken down into manageable pieces for detailed study. Mystery defies objectification. There is no way to get outside mystery to analyze it from an objective vantage point. I can step outside a chemical reaction; I cannot step outside myself in my experience of mystery.
While the appropriate response to problems is study, hard work, and application of techniques, the appropriate response to mystery is awe and wonder. Once solved, problems can be handled by anyone who learns the correct formula or technique. No formula can be passed from person to person to “solve” a mystery, however. Mystery confronts each of us uniquely and invites exploration rather than mastery. Mystery is inexhaustible. “The more mystery is recognized, the more mysterious and wondrous it becomes.”
Life without mystery is sterile. People pound away at computer terminals all day, then gather for Druid worship by the light of the moon. The New Age movement has spawned a whole new category of people who are “spiritual but not religious.” With half-suppressed smiles, Christians watch their contemporaries seek transcendent reality in the most ludicrous ways. But these efforts are far from comical; they are tragic. British pastor and theologian John Stott asks whether Christian worship today offers “what people are craving – the element of mystery, the ‘sense of the numinous’, in biblical language ‘the fear of God’, in modern language ‘transcendence’?” In today’s spiritual marketplace, why do we Christians not already have the marked cornered on mystery?
Absolutely intriguing. I have to say that I am reluctant to go into the “desert,” but I know I need to find out what ABBA wants to do or at least watch what happens.
That G. K. Chesterton quote was amazing (I would love to know where I can find that passage). It really hit home. I do feel older than God!!! That is terrible, LOL! Talk about wanting my life to be renewed like the eagle’s. I have been feeling worn out and just plain OLD!! I would love to get that child like wonder back. The enthusiasm of being young at heart is not near as present as it used to be in my life. Fear can be a constraining aspect to overcome. That’s why I love your website. It really helps me to see myself… even when I don’t want to or have the strength to look.
Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Wayne and Kyle!
It’s from his book, ORTHODOXY – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JMLDCS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
Thank you Wayne!
Loved the picture Kyle shared of the tobacco shop owner. It seems that like the woman at the well, Zacheus and so many of those Jesus spent time with when they meet him they are overwhelmed with the wonder and mystery of his presence and love to spend time with him rather than it being an obligation.
Thank you both for the enjoyment challenge and inspiration over the past year
All I can say is, WOW! This podcast is my first. It was like finding a shaded dessert oasis complete with a cool spring fed well. Jack’s letter could just as easily been from my own hand. It resonated in a deep way and refreshed my soul. On December 31st it will be one year since my church board “asked me to step down” as their associate pastor. Their reasoning, the ratio of staff to congregation size was out of sync with normative church statistics. Strange because I was their only full time pastor since their lead pastor had retired 6 months previous. I was bitter for a long part of last year . How could a group of people I loved so much and have given so much of myself for simply chuck me out the door based on the advice of a “transitional church consultant”. but I decided to immerse myself in the study of ecclesiology. It’s how I came across your books and now your podcast. I have come to realize that what happened to end my “career” as a pastor was the hand of a loving Father who needed to forcibly rescue me. I was in so deep I was never going to leave. Like pulling me from a strange abusive cult (not that my very evangelical church was anything like a cult – or maybe more than I knew) The Holy Spirit has slowly begun to reprogram me. To use another of G.K. Chesterton’s quotes, I now realize what is wrong with much of contemporary western church – “I am”. I look forward to listening to your podcasts. I feel I have found a couple of brothers along the way.
Marco (Up in Alberta, Canada)
Marco, Isn’t it amazing how God can take something that is so unloving and hurtful, and use it to open our eyes to the illusions we trusted and invite us on a better journey. I’m so sorry for the pain in your life from people I’m sure you loved but so grateful for how you responded in it all to let life appear in the brokenness. My heart goes out to you at the same time it rejoices with you at the discoveries you are making the trajectory he now has for you. If we can ever be of help, please write me. (Wayne)
Hi Mr. Boet,
Your experience reminds me of what Wayne went through. And I did not realize there was such a thing as a “transitional church consultant”. I know that Abba will bring peace to your soul as you go through your Godly journey.
When all else fears the darkness, I have learned to look up and see the beauty of the stars