A couple days ago I read a post from desiringGod.org (thanks Paul) entitled "Knowledge Increases Mystery" by John Piper. Read it for yourself, but he makes two points. The first is his, and the second belongs to Jonathan Edwards: 1.) "God is more honored by worship that rises from what we know about him than by worship that rises from what we don’t know about him," and 2.) "Increased knowledge does not equal decreased mystery. It’s the other way around."

I am reminded of what the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes 1:18, "He who increases knowledge [of the world] increases sorrow," because the more he knows of the world, the more meaninglessness he sees. At the same time, it can be said, as Piper says, that he who increases knowledge [of God] increases worship, because the more he knows of God, the more meaning he sees. And what is completely flabbergasting in all of this new-found meaning is that the mystery of God increases, too, as Edwards points out, which in turn causes us to fear Him and awe Him and search for more knowledge of who He is. It's a worship circle, or better yet, a spiral moving from the inside out: mystery, knowledge, worship, greater mystery, greater knowledge, greater worship, and so on.

This also reminds me of a lesson in Eastern Orthodoxy. In contrast to the Western mind's view of theology as "faith seeking understanding," the Eastern mind views theology as "mystical contemplation," where doctrinal truth always emerges with experiential reality. The Church is not as defined as it is lived. Church is being and becoming the divine life. It is transfiguration, transformation. (This brief description comes from a Greek Orthodox teacher, Dr. Helen Theodoropoulos, GOA, Loyola University, Chicago.)

Many in the Western Church today (i.e., Western Europe, United States, etc.), are adopting this Eastern way of thinking and living, being and doing church. It is quite popular among postmodern, post-Protestant, post-everything Christians. There is much to appreciate and learn from the Eastern Church, especially, in my opinion, their architecture and visual art in worship, their welcoming and joining of kingdom worship, and their high acknowledgment of the Trinity in worship. I'm afraid, however, that much Eastern worship is stuck in a different circle: mystery, worship, same mystery, same worship. Where is "the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God," as Paul speaks of in Romans 11:33?

In sum, although I find value in some Eastern ways of worship - it is never good to throw out everything just because I disagree with something - I do see a danger in their overwhelmingly experiential worship, where mystery trumps knowledge. Yes, God is mysterious, but we ought to be seeking to know Him, searching his inscrutable ways, and not merely settling for mystery for mystery's sake.

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