Limited Expression

I often think that no matter how hard I try to accurately express my thoughts, the words I choose always come short of the meaning I intend to convey. As a human, I don’t have the ability to fully communicate or express what ideas are going on in my head. In my mind, the ideas swirl around and are not logically organized. Rather, each idea “lives” independently of all the other ideas. Yet, within my mind I am able to coalesce or string together these independent ideas into a coherent pattern of thought. But when I try to translate these thought patterns into transferable words, I always fall short. Some of the meaning gets lost and some of the thoughts that do escape my mind get framed with an incorrect emphasis that skews the intended meaning I am trying to communicate. And this describes only the process of me crafting and sending my thoughts to someone else. An equal or greater complexity exists for the person receiving my thoughts who is trying to interpret them.

When reading the book of Romans, the thought occured to me that seemed to support the theory that the writers of the Bible were inspired in the sense that they wanted to write about their experience and understanding of God, but were not given the exact words to use in order to communicate a clear, comprehensible, accurate and complete concept of God. Rather, they suffered the same human limitation that I suffer – the inability to fully form their understanding in human vocabulary.

If this theory is true, then it would contradict those who claim that the Bible’s meaning is clear and easily understandable. Rather, the theory would support the notion that the Bible is anything but simple. Instead, it is full of confounding and ambiguous statements and difficult to understand concepts just like the rest of human literature because it was written by men having the same limitations as secular authors.

This conclusion has the ring of truth to me because my own experience supports it. But this conclusion doesn’t pass judgement at all on the nature of God and our ability to understand his nature. Rather, it supports the belief that in all things God moves by grace to make his work complete in us. We can make our very best effort to add to our understanding of God by meditating on Scripture, but in the end, it is God who “gifts” us with the understanding of his nature and will.

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