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Knowing everything would be like having everything and, as one wag said, “Where would you put it?” While it is true that we can retrieve truckloads of information about the universe on Internet, there is still a lot we don’t know, and even what we “know” is often changing. We might remember admonitions such as these in the Bible:

“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me” (Psalm 131.1-2).

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42.2-3).

Here is an old, but family example, of “expanding knowledge.” On one of our furloughs Joice decided to take an anthropology course. The textbook included a section on physical anthropology and during her exchanges with the professor she was told regularly, “Disregard pages x-y, we no longer believe that.” Joice soon realized that it was impossible to know exactly what the professors believed about certain topics, because there was no absolute proof and the goal of science seemed to be “update that,” or “change that to….” She gave up the course and turned to something that she could enjoy and have confidence in, like a study of some book of the Bible.

Of course, some Christians, even theologians, do not believe the Bible, or at least they “believe” it in a way that is appealing to them. Some years ago I followed the reports of the “Jesus Seminar,” which was a group of about 50 biblical criticism scholars and 100 laymen founded in 1985 by Robert Funk. It was very active through the 1980s and 1990s, and even into the early 21st century. Members of the Seminar used colored beads to signal their collective votes on their view of the “historicity” of the deeds and sayings of Jesus. They ranked their approvals or disapprovals according to the colors of their beads. For example, various beatitudes were marked as red (authentic), pink (somewhat), gray (perhaps), and black (no way). Three beatitudes were "paradoxical" and doubly marked. An example of those rated red occurs in Luke 6:20–21: Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

There are many things about our universe that I cannot comprehend and would color gray or black. For example, I recently listened to a series of lectures on our solar system and the professor threw out distances and lengths of times span like they were galaxy bird seed. For example, “The sun is about 4.6 billion years into an expected lifetime of about 12 billion years” (p. 36, New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System). Furthermore, the closest stars (Alpha Centauri A & B) are 4.35 light years away from us and the most distant star discovered is 12.9 billion years from earth. It would take around 225,000,000,000,000 years to reach this distance, which at the speed of light, would take 13 billion years! Such figures and distances are utterly gray or black to me, although astronomers color them pink or, sometimes, red.

Of course, just because something is difficult to comprehend does not mean that it is false. For example, I cannot grasp how God, through Jesus, can listen to and answer the prayers of millions of people at the same time. But my view and perception of time and space is obviously different than that of God.

Here are some examples of Jesus working from outside of my time frame, where things happened immediately: “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy” (Matthew 8.3); “Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again! Immediately the tree withered” (Matthew 21.19); “Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed” (Mark 1.42); “She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped” (Luke 8.44); “Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading” (John 6.21); “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12.23).

It is easy for me to see that Jesus is operating within a space dimension different than mine: Further examples occur when he suddenly appeared walking on the water in a storm; he was crucified but later appeared on the shore of the lake and cooked fish for the disciples; although “dead” he went to the departed and preached to them; and so on throughout the NT.

Despite the limitations of our human hearts and minds, God has given us promises:

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4.29).

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7.14).

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (Psalm 105.4).

I cannot know everything, but God gives me the wisdom to understand what he shows me.

Karl Franklin


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