Knowing, Not Knowing, and Learning to Live with the Mystery

I’ve been operating under the assumption that there was a limit to knowledge, that one day I would know all there is to know.

I remember, when I first started preaching when I was 20ish, that people would compliment me on how there wasn’t a question I couldn’t answer. I would get Bible question after question and could answer anything with ease.

I even remember specifically thinking that I had it figured out… at 20!!

I think that’s why God set a path before me where I would be humiliated by a lack of knowledge. In 2015-2016, when I first started studying preterism, I was floored by how much I didn’t know. But after 2016, I was doing daily 1 hours streams talking about the Bible, writing constantly, and discussing eschatology 24/7.

Nothing had really changed.

NOW I’ve got it.

NOW I know.

NOW I’ve arrived.

So, the lesson I was supposed to learn from that experience wasn’t learned. Sure, I knew a lot of cool facts about the Bible, but it was mainly abstract knowledge.

So, God had to try again.

What got me to rethink eschatology before was an opportunity to study all day everyday. When that came around, I was confronted with life changing information by the second month thanks to Guy N Woods and his comments on the last days.

The next opportunity came when Laura and I moved to Florida. Once we were here in July of 2018, I had another opportunity to study literally all day. I would drop Laura off at school around 7 and then I would study until 5, pick Laura up, and study more.

For awhile I had these sneaky suspicions that there was more out there. The old arguments about instruments in church, marriage divorce and remarriage, women’s roles, etc. still worked for me on one level, but there was something about them that I couldn’t put my finger on that didn’t quite work.

This new way that I had learned to read the Bible presented me with all sorts of challenges, but I didn’t really have the language to put to those suspicions and intuitions.

I had read and listened to many papers and audios about these issues, and I could articulate the arguments on both sides, but something wasn’t really sticking either way.

Then, I read two books: Velvet Elvis and Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell.

These two books were so interesting to me because they were so simple to read. I think I read them both in just a few days. There weren’t a lot of big words, and there wasn’t a lot of obvious exegesis, but as I read, I was blown away by so many allusions and references to extremely deep subjects like the Second Exodus. There was even preterist material in these books that caught my eye.

I had always discounted books like these because of their lack of Bible references, but I quickly realized that they were full of Scripture. They challenged me, taught me things, but, most importantly, they put language to many things I couldn’t find the words for.

These books, and others of Rob, led me to other authors and teachers that I would have never known about otherwise: Pete Enns, Richard Rohr, Brian Mclaren and many others.

I was going to say that I don’t always agree with what these authors say, but that is such a unneeded statement. As if I have to put some sort of disclaimer so that I have plausible deniability if confronted with a disagreeable situation, but I think I’m not going to do that anymore if I can help it.

Anyways, these authors and others have presented a lot of useful information, but the most valuable lesson that they have taught me is that it is okay not to know. It is okay to live with the mystery. And that isn’t a lesson that I’ve learned yet, and I don’t think I’ll ever finish learning that lesson – which is the point I suppose.

I had always heard that saying “I Don’t Know” was a good thing, but this encouragement was always accompanied with a strong emphasis on having the right answers for everything and figuring it out if you didn’t know.

But now I can say “I don’t know” without the feeling like I’ve failed in some way.

While I am no way near being totally comfortable with not having all the answers, I’m a lot more comfortable than I was.

As a lot of you know, I suffer from major clinical depression, and sometimes it comes and sometimes it goes, but these few months of quarantine have been tough on everyone (myself included).

Not being able to work full time has led to the need for Laura to return to work, and part of me feels like a failure because of that despite her encouragements in that matter.

But a lot of my anger, depression, and anxiety doesn’t come from the outside; it comes from an internal war of feeling the need to validate myself through knowing the answer, the inability to know the answer and the fear of learning something new and having to reorganize everything again.

It’s as if there is the constant hunger for knowledge but, at the same time, a fear of what I might find because of my preconceived ideas of what makes a good Christian, etc.

But I’m learning to live with the unknown and to not feel the need to have all the answers. It’s tough, but it sure has helped me get over a lot of the anger I’ve had towards those that hurt me. Now I see that I was more angry with myself for not being able to convince them of my view. As if there was some specific order of words, something that I could have done to change the path or change their mind.

But I’m still learning to deal with some of this, so I hope you enjoy the product of my continual journey in my lessons and writings.

This has been a jumbled mess! But I’ve been a jumbled mess for so long now. Hopefully my mess helps you in some way.

4 Replies to “Knowing, Not Knowing, and Learning to Live with the Mystery

  1. I love your post and humility in sharing it. In such a knowledge-oriented environment, it says a lot about you to share that.

    I believe there is a comfort-level in thinking that we know “the true way” or “the best way”. And we all want some type of stasis or feeling of stability or having arrived in life so that we don’t have to change or keep learning . Having that view challenged is quite a shock to all of us.

    I always loved Gene Wilder’s movies like Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Willy Wonka. His wife Gilda Radner had a great quote that applies to the discussion:

    “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

    Regards, Rex

  2. Hey Daniel,
    It’s like the Tom T. Hall song The ole philosophy. for the physical world “Peace and prosperity is buffalo chips to me, it’s younger women, older whiskey, faster horses and MORE MONEY!”.
    I’m 83 and you will never know it all. Read N.T. Wright’s book “Paul , A Biography. Paul had to go home for 10 years to figure it out, even then he had more figuring to do till his death. This should be required reading for any one teaching Paul’ letters. Wright also has two tapes, The New Testament In It,s Age, part 1&2. This is good background info for all who are interested in the differences and similarities of our world and Paul’s world (the most important time in world history for christians)

  3. I’m near 70 and believe the older I get the more I don’t know. The Bible is a infinite book and it will take more than my lifetime to comprehend it.

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