I don’t know if you have ever had the chance to look at an ancient map that shows the outline of the New World before all the discoverers filled in the details, but if you have, you will have seen how wrong the early cartographers got it. They had very little to go from, so it makes sense that much of what they marked down was wrong.
Today we have satellite images that can give us extreme detail of what the “new world” truly looks like, but that was not available even a generation ago.
If you were to look at a map from the year 1600, you would be surprised at how much was already filled in since the year 1500. And of course, a map from 1700 would be that much better than the one from 1600. Of course, this is only logical, but what you may have failed to consider is how many new sightings and voyages were necessary for those improvements needed for the map to be better over those 100 years. Many of the new details filled in were not done by a single explorer either. Often there were thousands of drawings and redrawing’s done before cartographers were sure that they had got it right.
If you were to plot a map of just the voyages of early explorers, I think you would see that these lines would clearly outline the actual contours of the new continents. This makes sense because if you don’t know the shape of something, seeing it close up is really the only option.
It would be the same for 100 blind people explaining the shape of an elephant. Each one would have to get in close and describe to the others what it is that they personally are feeling.
This is the same way we have come to know God. The only way humankind has been able to understand who God is by listening to those who have got in close enough to describe what they have “seen” in the past.
That is really what the Bible is. It is a map of who God is, as described by those who have experienced Him firsthand over many centuries. When you add to the Bible all the other books written over past centuries one can start to see the outline of an otherwise unexplainable God.
This why we can get seemingly incompatible sightings of who God is. It’s because each sighting is up and close, and just like those describing the elephant, the parts can appear very different from those described by someone else.
The truth is we will never be able to understand the complete “shape” of God until we leave this earth, much like the satellites did for us to understand the shape of the New World.
In the meantime, while we are here, it is important that we don’t trust our understanding of who God is to a single author or a single book, otherwise they would likely lead us astray.
The truth of who God is, can only be found in the multiple “sightings”, over multiple generations, by otherwise semi-blind and fallible people.
It’s the only way we can begin to “see” who God really is, in all of His complexity.
-The Loan Arranger