Monday, October 24, 2005

Theological "Need-To-Know"

In addition to sensitivity level, information that is classified is restricted in its dissemination based on the "need to know" the information. Having a "top-secret" clearance does not give one access to all documents classified at that level. Rather, information is disseminated based upon sensitivity level and the need to know.
- "Classified Information", Wikipedia (italics added by me)

The drive, the need, to explain things that don't make sense to us is very powerful. Especially for theologians. And accepting that there may not be an answer - or worse, that God may not deign to give us an answer - is very hard indeed.

Dan Edelen's latest post resonates with me on this topic. When faced with evil, with tragedy, with Things That Just Don't Make Sense, we want to know "Why?" We demand to know why. And sometimes, if we don't have ready answers, we extrapolate them from what we think we know (or just make them up) so that we have some comfort to fall back on. But, perhaps, there are things we just won't be told the "why" for. God's answer to us may be, "You don't have need-to-know for that information right now."

Dan references Job and his trials in his post. I would like to elaborate on that theme. We, the readers of the book of Job, are given the "inside scoop" on why Job suffered - Satan's challenge to God about the ground of human faith. When, at the end of the book, God does appear to Job, He could also have told Job the reasons why. God doesn't. Instead, He confronts Job with Himself, and insists that Job admit his ignorance. And even after that, God keeps the "secret". I don't think Job ever knew, in this life, why he went through what he went through.

When faced with tragedies like Katrina, like Dan's sad story of the missionary who died before she could fulfill her calling, we want the "classified data" in the background - we want to know WHY. And sometimes, I think God's answer to us is the same as His answer to Job - "You're not cleared for that information!"

Accepting mystery, the incompleteness of our understanding in this life, has been a big hurdle in my walk of faith. Sometimes, it's nice to know that others have faced the same struggle, and that I can learn from their acceptance that there are some things that God just hasn't seen fit to clear us for.


Blogger Dan Edelen said...

Thanks for the links. Not always knowing the thoughts of God is tough. Thanks for fleshing out my post.

1:02 PM  

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