Monday, May 03, 2010

The Two Mountains

I've been reading some books about painting (a hobby of mine) and ran across a description of how to paint mountains.

Basically the book said that mountains up close have clear colors and shapes and that the colors get duller and the shapes less distinct with distance.

This sent my mind off in a totally unrelated direction.

It seemed to me that if you stood on Mt. Alpha and looked around you, everything would be pretty clear. Trees, rocks, streams, annoyed grizzly bears, and so forth. But if you lift your eyes and look far off across the wide valley toward Mt. Omega, it would look faded and indistinct.

However, if you drove the 47.5 miles across the valley and then hiked up Mt. Omega, then it would be wonderfully clear. Bears, gold mines, cliffs, trees and ticks would all be obvious. But then, if you look back at Mt. Alpha, you would find that it has become fuzzy and indistinct.

And this seemed to me to be a parable of how we Christians need to think about such doctrines as the Sovereignty of God and Free Will.

If you consider just the sovereignty of God, everything is quite clear. God is in charge of everything and that's that. But, then, if you glance up from Mt. Sovereignty and look over at Mt. Free Will, Mt. Free Will is hazy and difficult to understand. How can people have a free will if God is in charge of everything?

But then, if you drive over to Mt. Free Will, it looks pretty clear. People have a free will and they can make real decisions. But then if you look back at Mt. Sovereignty then it becomes indistinct. How can God really be in charge if humans have a free will?

Both mountains are completely real. You can climb each one and examine it in microscopic detail, but if you look at one from the other, the one you are not standing on is indistinct.

As humans, we don't have a God's-eye view. We can't clearly see both at the same time, as God can. But we can see them one at a time, and we can trust that though we may not be able to understand them both together, God can.

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