Our Priest's Newsletter Comments

July/August 2010

I was never a good maths scholar. At school, I caused such a tearing out of hair that my maths teacher was completely bald by the age of 35 (poor lass). The trouble was that I didn’t work the answers out. I would speculate, work on instinct and jump to conclusions – an approach yielding such an infinity of possible results that I was almost certain to be wrong. Kids, don’t try this at home! Of course, we all know that you can work out maths logically, but most of us can only do it if we’re shown how.

Theology (understanding God) is often thought of as the antithesis to maths. Maths is precise, theology is vague; maths is tangible, theology is mystical; maths is useful, theology is…well, complete that sentence as you will. But they have more in common than you might think. Firstly, to a large proportion of the population, they’re both shrouded in an impenetrable fog. Secondly, they’re both subjects that people usually avoid, but suddenly start tackling late at night after too much to drink. But also, they are both subjects that must have an absolute answer, if only we knew how to find it. If God exists, he, she or it must be absolute. But how could we ever know?

The trouble is that much thinking about God is conducted rather like my approach to maths: we speculate, work on instinct and jump to conclusions, yielding such an infinity of possible results that we are almost certain to be wrong. Frankly we can’t have a clue about what or who God is unless he reveals himself to us. The reason I ultimately became a theologian is that I believe that God has revealed himself to us through a person who existed in our time and space who was both fully human and fully God - Jesus. Jesus came, so he said, to show us God, to tell us everything his father had told him and to enable us to know him as father too. So if Jesus is right, God has gone to extraordinary lengths to reveal who he is and to tell us what he desperately wants us to know. Of course, you might conclude that Jesus just got it wrong. But might I suggest that, before you come to any conclusion, you at least listen very carefully to what he had to say? Because if he was right, well doesn’t that change everything?

Stewart Fyfe