I squirmed in my seat. Knowing that the order of participating voices was rounding the table in my direction, I looked for an escape route. Unflinching, the paper on the table in front of me stared up with the same resolve I showed it in return. I knew I would be asked to share its contents when my turn came, and my mind rolled over plans on how to deflect when it did.
I was sitting in a staff meeting where we were going over the results of our leadership style personality tests. Each person was sharing the results of his or her 30-question assessment, and I felt utterly exposed. There on the paper in front of me were my own results—my strengths and my weaknesses in leadership (both of which are many and varied). And between the results and the diagrams I felt stuck. They pinned me down, defined me, ordered me, and bound me in with their descriptors of how I interact with others on a team, how I respond to stress, and when I’m prone to abandon a project—the gall.
There is something unsettling to me about personality tests. While they offer insight into how God has wired us and the people in our lives, they also seek to define us in ways that make me squirm. They reveal us, unearthing our tendencies and habits. They teach us that we get our energy from being alone or with others, whether or not we are drawn to dominance or shy away from it, and how our minds process things like change and goals and information. The aim of these assessments is to know and understand yourself, and they successfully remind us: We are, indeed, knowable.
Perhaps it is my inner Millennial, but these assessments rattle me because they remind me that I’m not as unpredictable or complex as I once thought. When I first took the Myers-Briggs in college, I was amazed at what it revealed. It seemed to give words and descriptions to all the ways I was wired, somehow making me feel simultaneously complex and understood—and I relished it. But as I get older, the test results remain largely unchanged, and each assessment is a reminder of my limits. Though I want to conceive of myself as a dynamic person of endless depth, the results reveal that I am fundamentally knowable.
The limits of our humanity afford to you and me a great reminder: God alone is incomprehensible. He alone is limitless. This is why the Psalmist says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3). God alone rules sovereignly in the universe, extending beyond the limits of time, space, and human imagination. Even Job, who conversed with God about His ways in the world, acknowledged: “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14).
God alone has no boundaries. His being has no limitations. He cannot be boxed in by a graph or defined on a chart. No assessment or test or evaluation can fully capture the person of the Divine. He is infinitely incomprehensible.
And yet—it is this same God who has definitively and decidedly made Himself known to us! The God of no boundaries or limitations has offered to you and me the gift of knowing Him. Through His revealed Word and ways, He has extended to us the peace of truly knowing Him. This is why Peter says with confidence, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises.” (2 Peter 1:3-4a).
THE STUDY OF GOD
Our human response to the Divine invitation to know God is summarized in one word: theology. Theology is the study of God, stemming from the Greek word ‘theos,’ which means God, in conjunction with the suffix ‘ology,’ which means “the study of.” Theology is our invitation as God’s limited creatures to approach Him in wonder, eagerness, and anticipation of His self-revelation. When you and I lean into our calling to be theologically-minded women of faith, we are essentially responding to the reality that a boundless God has willfully chosen to make Himself known to us.
As Christians, the notion of theology can be overwhelming. When we look on Amazon at all the books that come up under the theology category, it’s enough to make our eyes go cross-eyed and our hearts sink in discouragement. But it’s God Himself that pulls theology out of abstraction—theology isn’t reserved for academics, confined to old textbooks, or reserved for the scholarly elite. No, theology is all about God. It starts with Him and it ends with Him. It is the study of Him, the knowledge of His character and ways in the world, and as such, it is the responsibility, joy, and privilege of every single believer.
Yes, there is much to know about God. True, we will never plumb the depths of His character and ways. And yes, our studies could go on eternally (and, I venture that they will). When we consider this, we may wonder how to make a start of theology. Where is our access point to knowing God? Where is our entry point into the theological conversation?
THE ACCESS POINT
God gave us an access point to knowledge of Him: His own Son. There is no better place to start our theology study than in the Person of God’s self-revelation, Jesus Christ.
Instead of looking at the incomprehensibility of God and drowning in despair, we have the gift of looking to Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2, Galatians 6:14). The limitless God bound Himself to time and space, taking on the restrictions of humanity in the Incarnation. When we consider the vastness of God and wonder if we can truly know Him, we can look to Christ—God in flesh! God, made knowable to us! God, humbled by human limitations so that you and I could be brought into His family.
Though you and I are bound by limitations, we have been invited to know and live in relationship with the Limitless One. God, in His kindness, has opened the way for us to know Him—both intimately in our inner lives and robustly with our minds. Limited as we are, God has invited us to learn and love His divine Self-Expression. As we study the Word and engage theology, we lean into this invitation, accepting our place in God’s great plan for His people.
Today, you and I will be reminded of our limits. We will wake to routines we can’t remember living without. We will react in predictable ways because of how He has made us and how our lives have shaped us. We will be knowable and limited and defined. In the face of these reminders, we can turn our faces toward the Limitless One with worship, adoration, affection, and hunger. We can, with humble joy and earnest gratitude, repeat the biblical refrain:
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How searchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?’ But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord” (Romans 11:33-34, Jeremiah 9:24).
AMY’S TOP 5 RECOMMENDED RESOURCES FOR WOMEN SEEKING TO BECOME MORE THEOLOGICALLY-MINDED
- “Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples” by Michael Horton
- “None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing)” by Jen Wilkin
- “Practicing Christian Doctrine: An Introduction to Thinking and Living Theologically” by Beth Felker Jones
- “What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed” by Micahel Bird
- “The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything” by Fred Sanders
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