Math is a remarkable gift from God. Prior to adulthood I thought of it as some combination of befuddling, boring, and cumbersome – at best a necessary evil. I’ve come to recognize its significance, though, as a set of organizing principles for the entire universe. Math helps the limited human mind make sense of the created expanse, or at least some of it. It divides and combines and sorts the world while allowing for logic and predictive abilities.
In spite of all that, only a certain kind of mind really sees beauty in math. It is necessary, imminently useful, and occasionally almost interesting. But not beautiful to most.
Mammals have skeletons to give us strength and shape. Without them we would be immobile, gelatinous lumps of flexing, twitching, grunting goo. Skeletons are crucial to the human body, the human existence. But when we look at another person we don’t think “Whoa, nice bone structure! She must drink her milk.” It is the rest of the human figure that attracts us — the symmetrical features and curves and smiles and hair color. We find beauty in the sense of humor, the personality, and the wit. We would recognize none of this without a skeleton to hold it all up, but it isn’t the skeleton we find lovely.
Systematic Theology is math, a skeleton.
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For many people, yea most people, systematic theology is not any more beautiful than algebra. It is intimidating or cumbersome or boring or argumentative. It can even be a deterrent from connecting with God when misused. “Misused” in this instance means thrust in people’s faces, worn as a badge of honor, broadcast as the defining characteristic of faith. People don’t need a systematic, organized understanding of God to be saved.
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