I like springs.
The metaphor seems beautiful as a whole. It makes sense. It seems to jive with our human experience with God and our theological history. Theology is not something completely carved in stone. It’s something that lives. It’s an ongoing effort to have the bestest and rightest relationship with God that we can. At times, we’re going to get it wrong, and have to go back to the drawing board, or at least erase a few lines and start over again. We’re human.
But there are a few misleading things as well. Page 22 – the concept of the Trinity is implicit throughout Scriptures. People may not have connected the dots right away, but the dots are there. People ‘got along without’ the concept of the Trinity for ‘thousands of years’ because God hadn’t revealed himself in that way to them yet. Now that he has revealed himself more fully, it’s not as though we can say that we don’t need the Trinitarian concept of God because the Israelites didn’t have it. I don’t believe Bell means to imply this, but it’s an idea that some folks can get into their heads rather easily.
And the issue of words on page 23 is a tricky one. Of course, God is beyond words.
God has chosen to reveal himself to us through words – among other means (water, bread, wine). This choice on his part does not limit or demean his absoluteness in any sense. But it is also a firm part of the Christian faith. The Bible is the Word of God. Not simply man’s words *about* God. But God’s Word to and through man.
As such, these words are reliable ways of talking about God. They provide the tension in the springs of our faith. We can’t do without a spring that is provided in the Bible. We can’t stretch a spring beyond what the Bible clearly states. We can’t add springs that the Bible doesn’t clearly provide. The Bible is our limit to how far we can jump, and it is the guideline as to what our experience of faith with God is going to be like. We have to remember that the springs are not all of our own making – God has provided most of them. We simply are to test them out and see what their capabilities and limitations are.
Doctrine is important in setting the ground rules for faith, of deciphering and pulling together the Scriptures and pointing out the unity of expression found therein in regards to specific ideas or concepts about God. Definitely, doctrine is not God. But lack of doctrine also pretty much guarantees that Satan is going to have an easy time of waylaying someone into ideas about God that are not true, not Biblical.