Why There Are No Theological Problems

Jacques Maritain somewhere makes a distinction that I find helpful between a ‘problem’ and a ‘mystery’. A problem admits of a solution – ‘can you prove Fermat’s last theorem?’ ‘is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?’ ‘does the Higgs boson exist, and if so, at what mass?’ – even if we don’t currently know the solution, it makes sense to look for a final answer which will lay the question to rest. A mystery, by contrast, can never be solved, only clarified; ‘what is beauty?’ might be a mystery: there is in principle no final answer, only a series of explorations (proportion; harmony; the sublime; …) which help us to think more clearly about the issue.

I propose (with no claim to originality) that the interesting questions in theology are all mysteries: we shouldn’t expect answers, so much as hints and definitions that serve to clarify our thoughts about the question.

Read the whole post here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in The Blogosphere, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why There Are No Theological Problems

  1. Wayne says:

    Well, that’s not what my Westminster Catechism tells me.

  2. Pingback: Mysteries vs. Problems « Dappled Thoughts

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