Tuesday, August 14, 2012
God and the Vitality of Irrational Thought
Last week I was reading a book that discussed the psychology of adult learning. Given the history of adult learning throughout the Western world, one will find that the church was once the hub. It was pushing and leading a systematic approach, viewed as "just as necessary for development of human reason as revelation and grace were necessary for salvation and maturity."
These assumptions and discoveries have informed adult learning paradigms which are still in practice today. What I kept seeing as the focus however, was rational thinking. It has become the teacher's role in helping students to "think rationally." This however seems to add major hurdles to pursuing a biblical faith.
Let me elaborate...
True grace is not rational. It makes no sense. But yet, God's economy doesn't work like ours. Rational thought and understanding seeks judgement and punishment for offenders, yet God seems to work in other ways. The way of the world seeks redemptive violence, yet God works through restoration and reconciliation. Both of these are difficult and contrary to rational thought and practice. Even stories of miracles and virgin births become suspect when we pursue rational thought. Because God is increasingly mystical, works beyond the limits of understood physics and biology, rational thought becomes a hurdle in faith formation.
In May, many across the country celebrated the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden's death. People were simply acting rational - good overcame evil. But looking at God's economy and being irrational enough to suppose that my wishes, hopes, and desires are not greater than, or even equal to, God's, gives room to grace, restoration, and love (truly irrational responses).
So what now?
As we're increasingly a post-modern culture, certain rational thoughts of the past are suspect. There's room for irrational thought in understanding and learning. And I believe, as teachers to adult learners, we must create environments that accept and produce irrational thinkers. We must approach the theology of God with a respect to His irrationality. We must work to create new realities, and to move closer to the image we were created, and to tell better stories that include grace, reconciliation, virgin birth, miracles, seas parting, burning bushes, the Holy Spirit, death, and resurrection.