A recent post I made


A recent post I made to the General Convention discussion list. It deals with the same ideas that I’ve been thinking about for some time – and which I wrote about over the weekend.

On Mon, 7 Feb 2005 23:30:24 -0500, Walter C. Righter
<Walter.Righter@adelphia.net> wrote:
> “When they got to the phrase,’the Father incomprehensible, the Son
> incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible…..and yet there are
> not three incomprehensibles’ they all burst out laughing.”

Thanks for this Bishop. It’s a reminder to me that our need to come
up with short-hand descriptions is probably flawed from the outset.

One of things I learned when I studied physics was that when you can’t
ask a question in a way that has a clear answer, you probably need to
go back and re-think the question.

Our struggle over finding names for the various voices in the Church
at the moment stems I think from the error we make in assuming that
each voice is clearly fixed in its stance and understanding without
any movement.

I know for myself that if you ask me the same theological question on
any occasion you might get similar answers on the surface but with
widely variant nuances underneath. That’s because we all live in a
real community with real people worshiping a real God in human time.
Revelation generally doesn’t come to us in a blinding flash but
instead slowly in bite sized pieces that we can manage. I think the
longer we live into our vocation as the Body of Christ the fuzzier our
positions become because God’s truth is not something that we can
explicitly express on this side of reality.

There’s a parallel in one of the classic interpretations in Quantum
Physics. A system expands in fuzziness over time until it is observed
in some way. The action of observation causes it to focus clearly
into one place. But as soon as that occurs, fuzziness begins to build

I think theological positions within in the community of the Church
are like that too. A vote is like an observation in that if forces us
to take a fixed position. But there’s a fuzziness in all of us before
the vote (what Dean Werner refers to as the breadth of reasons we end
up voting the way we do) and a fuzziness afterward as well. Trying to
pin a fellow Christian to a single position based on a single moment
in time isn’t really helpful nor is it honestly possible.

God is the only place where we can find absolute truth. And our best
perception of that truth on this side of the veil (and maybe on the
other too) is going to be flawed. As the words Bishop Righter quotes
above remind us, God in the fullness of God’s self is unknowable.
Without Jesus as God’s self-revelation to teach us, we would only have the simplest conception
of the breadth of God’s love and God’s mystery.

I think that the same holds true for each of us as children of God.
We can not be fully known by ourselves much less by others. I’d
rather we spent our time listening instead of categorizing.

Nick Knisely
C4, Bethlehem
Chair, Standing Commission on Episcopal Church Communication

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...