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Celtic Exuberance in the Maybes

Wesley W. White
October, 2002

Roguery or Miracle?

Nuala Dhomhnaill lives in Dublin with her Turkish husband and four children.
She writes poetry; poetry that blatantly exposes the heart of Celtic Christian
spirituality. Here is one of her best.


She remembered to the very end
the angelic vision
in the temple:
the flutter of wings
about her –
noting the noise of doves,
sun-rays raining
on lime-white wall –
the day she got the tidings.

He –
he went away
and perhaps forgot
what grew from his loins –
two thousand years
of carrying a cross
two thousand years
of rows that reached a greater span
than all the spires of the Vatican.

O most tender virgin Mary
that a man came to you
in the darkness alone,
and roguery swelling in his eyes.1

This is a piece that wrestles with humanness and divinity. Was the
impregnation of Mary miracle or base roguery? Was it the one? Was it the other?
Was it both? How are we to account for the fruit of his loins: two
thousand years of carrying a cross, two thousand years of smoke and fire?

The opening of the poem recalls the annunciation in terms of an “angelic
vision.” By the end, the act itself is in view, and is purposefully ambiguous.
The phrase, “that never was it known,” could refer to the ugly truth (hidden
to all but Mary) that rape is the honest explanation. Or it could invoke
Christian history that has never treated it as such, but has accredited it the
grandest miracle of all. Either way, the poet leaves us in the curious
(sometimes uncomfortable) domain of “maybe.”2
Maybe it was the one. Maybe it was the other. Maybe it was both.

Maybe is often where the transcendent God and human imaginings meet. Maybe
does not disdain ambiguity. It happily probes into the mysterious and
willingly acknowledges the limitations of human finitude.3
And maybe is a realm that Celtic Christian spirituality freely enters and
happily embraces, even if, in so doing, it sometimes slips beyond the boundaries
of orthodoxy.

Maybe God Appreciates Maybe

Transcendence is, after all, an aspect of God that we must take seriously if
we are to do justice to the Bible. God is beyond us. The preacher of wisdom
(Ecclesiastes 11:5) reminds us that, “Just as you do not know the path of the
wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not
know the activity of God who makes all things.” The truth of the matter…that
we do not know everything, especially in terms of God, throws us into the domain
of maybe. Transcendence, among other things, invites us to speculate
possibilities and invites us into the freedom of simply saying, “maybe.”

The world of maybe is not afraid of the Infinite. People who embrace maybe
are happy to reside in “the middle of things,” as long as they are free to
contemplate the extremes of “Nothing” and the “Infinite.”4
In so doing, God is all the more honored as the true subject of knowing; not
merely the object of human scrutiny. People who enjoy the region of maybe
are glad, rather than reluctant, to concede that such a subject is progressive.
They are not satisfied with static epistemology, but are forever asking more
questions with an eschatological purpose in mind. In the end, God delights in
the air of provisionality with which certain doctrinal formulae are thereby
entertained, for in certain respects, such an attitude does greater justice to
his immensity and more fully recognizes how far beyond the finite he actually

Celtic Christianity celebrates the reality of the maybe by
accentuating the mystery of God. It does not turn to certainty as the only, or
even the most reliable benchmark of orthodoxy.6
Rather, it resorts to riddle, to ambiguity, and to imaginative approaches to a
God who cannot be restricted to the finite. The Celtic knot is perhaps the most
obvious example. Infinity, perpetual motion, eternity, inter-connectedness, and
Trinitarian theology are all evoked by artistic design, not by propositional
St. Brendan (484-577) creatively referred to these ideas as “the music of
heaven” that finite musicians could only imitate.8

Mystery is, in fact, incumbent in any serious journey toward God, according
to Celtic sensibility, because there are substantial qualities of God that are
hidden. Pascal undoubtedly intones a vibrant Celtic conviction when he writes,
“If there were only one religion, God would be clearly manifest. If there were
no martyrs except in our religion, likewise. God being thus hidden, any religion
that does not say God is hidden is not true, and any religion that does not
explain why does not instruct. Ours does all these.”9
Isaiah 45:15 is behind it all: “Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God
of Israel, Savior!”

For this reason, in the Celtic mind, God must be sought out. “You will seek
Me and find Me,” says Jeremiah (29:13), “when you search for Me with all
your heart.” Furthermore, such seeking is not so much demanded as it is
pleasing to God. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him,” says the
writer of Hebrews (11:6), “for he who comes to God must believe that He is and
that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” The Celtic conception of
a literal journey, a pilgrimage to find and experience God, is based on a text
like this.10
The journey is meant to be arduous and adventuresome for the pilgrim. It is
meant to be pleasing to God. Maybe God delights in being somewhat mysterious.

The Human Side of Maybe

Perhaps, then, faith itself is better conceived of in terms of an ongoing
journey, rather than static propositions that are argued and won. Maybe
invigorates an attitude of seeking, from the human perspective, even though
besieged by unknowns. It has little to do with winning and losing. The journey
is more about seeking itself, and may include as much pain as pleasure.11
For the Celtic pilgrim, the journey must include the exacting requirements of
repentance, but it also moves toward resurrection and rebirth. Coming to the “sure
things and true” evokes an ascetic quality that is equally as vigorous as any
mental subjection to God’s sometimes perplexing ways.12
Both are necessary as part of an expanding, seeking faith.

One question which must be entertained, then, is how does faith grow? The
human side of maybe answers by daring to risk everything to God’s
providential care. For the Celtic adventurer (faith as adventure?), even the
likelihood of death is not too high a risk and should not be approached in a
calculated way. Dallas Willard’s description of the “sea of trust” is a
prime example. Hermits shoved off into the sea in curraghs without oars, or any
provisions, trusting the winds and currents of God to take them where they
would. If death was the outcome, what of faith? Under such conditions, the
ultimate sin of unbelief was unearthed and brought to the fore.13
Maybe thus heightens an awareness of sin on the human side of the
equation. “God give me a well of tears,” cries the pilgrim, “my sins to
hide; for I remain while no tears fall unsanctified.”14

On the other hand, maybe liberates the imaginative elements that ought
to accompany the journey of faith, and so increases pleasure. Celtic
spirituality gives full license to the power of imagination, and prefers
expressions of faith that lean heavily upon the use of symbol, metaphor, and
image, as opposed to philosophical and logical explanations.15
Appeal to the imagination was historically necessitated, no doubt, by common
Celtic respect for oral tradition, creating a dependence on memory.
Nevertheless, the fine arts, liturgical expressions that appreciate all the
bodily senses, and especially poetry flourish in such a fertile environment 16

Even serious sacramental practices can be subjected to creative imagining.
Nuala Dhomhnaill, again, describes an occasion in which the priest is guilty of
dropping the blessed host to the ground, from which emerges “a patch of
marvelous grass.”17
“Those who eat the god,” writes Brendan Kennelly, “digest the god’s
language to increase their substance, deepen their shadows, and the eaten god is
happy, finding Himself in blood.”18
If nothing else, imaginative freedom of this kind raises some doubt as to the
advances of Reformation and even Counter-Reformation history, both of which tend
to reduce mystery to academic formulae and foment tragedy rather than joy. Even
when it hints at myth, Celtic spirituality, on the other hand, exults in mystery
and freely explores it with all the tools of human imagination.

Further, although the journey of faith in pursuit of God often embraces the
pain of loneliness, it need not and should not be undertaken alone. There
is no discrepancy here. The human side of maybe freely acknowledges the
reality of loneliness without falling prey to the incipient theological dangers
inherent in strict individualism. The believing community in Celtic perspective
is indispensable in the way it directs pilgrims to certain paths and not to
Kenneth Leech, in fact, suggests that the believing community is tangibly
involved in the progress of pilgrims in the person of a “soul-friend,” who
acts as navigator, counselor, confessor and mentor.20
“A man without a soul-friend,” said St. Comgall (516-601), “is like a body
without its head.”21
Soul-friends need not accompany, but they do guide and they do represent the
core convictions of an entire community that always hovers in the background no
matter how remote the terrain.

Maybe in the Balance

It should not be thought, however, that maybe is the only or last
word. Such a notion would leave us all adrift in the equally dangerous oxymoron
of absolute uncertainty in terms of God. Celtic sensibilities are likewise in
tune with the real presence and action of God in both mundane and supernatural
circumstances that are at the heart of the Incarnation itself.22
Immanence is not only attractive, but an essential part of the story of God.
Stanley Grenz reiterates the distinctively Christian concept of the relational
God who is “active within the universe, involved with the natural process and
in human history.”23
The Apostle Paul could, in the same breath, speak of the unknown God who is yet
“not far from each one of us,” and in whom “we live and move and have our
being.” (Acts 17:23-27)

Acknowledging the mysterious God, therefore, need not deteriorate into simple
mysticism. Postmodernism rightly reacts against the meaninglessness of what
Francis Schaeffer refers to as “a level of mysticism with nothing there.”24
Mysticism of this type (not mysticism generally) ends up exacerbating an already
great degree of existential despair and simply promotes faith in faith, rather
than faith in God who does have mysterious qualities.25
Schaeffer is correct to warn against this type of “manipulated semantic
Meaning, on the other hand, can be had in grappling with the unavoidable (and
wonderful) mysteries of God as he actively involves himself in all the affairs
of humanity and in all the perplexities of his creation.

The Christian scriptures themselves, especially various passages in the New
Testament, demand the maintenance of a proper balance between the transcendent
and immanent aspects of God. This balance is suggested in the comparison of
several critical theological arguments contained in the Pauline epistles.
Following a typically lengthy discussion, for example, of the reasons behind the
hardening of Israel (described as a “mystery”) in Romans 11 (verses 25-34),
the Apostle appeals to the unsearchable judgments and unfathomable
ways of God, and concludes with an astounding quotation of the Old Testament
prophet Isaiah (45:15), “For who has known the mind of the Lord?” In
contrast, however, the Apostle cites the same quotation (for quite different
purposes) in I Corinthians 2:16, but there includes a crucial addendum: “For
who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have
the mind of Christ
.” The grammatically emphatic haymeis (“we”)
must be noted. The preceding argument infers those who are “spiritual,” as
opposed to those who are only “natural.” But the essential question is, “What
does it mean to have the mind of Christ?” If nothing else, it must include
some insight into the ways and purposes of God.27
Beyond that, the debate properly ensues. Mystery and insight. Both are included.
Both have their place.

Keeping Maybe in Mind

What new worlds (or perhaps old worlds re-discovered) can the world of the maybe
open up for the church generally, and for new church-planting ventures in
particular? Maybe invokes something of the transcendent, the mysterious
qualities that heighten our awareness of all that necessarily distinguishes the
Creator from creation. What does this world say to the emerging culture—a
culture which is increasingly hesitant about foundationalist approaches that
leave at best an unappetizing taste in their mouths? Celtic spirituality,
perhaps, offers some suggestions.

Firstly, Celtic traditions amplify the attractiveness of that ring of honesty
that resounds when communicators of the Christian message freely admit that God
is not easily known. There is, conversely, a hollowness to evangelical
pronouncements that infer that such an undertaking is simple and undemanding.
Communicators gain solid ground when they happily balance what can be known of
God with what is mystery. They gain even more when communication becomes less of
a monologue and more of a dialogue in which wrenching questions are welcomed,
even in public forums, and in which differing opinions are respected.

Celtic approaches might also challenge us to encourage high-risk ventures in
the journey of faith. Literal pilgrimages may be in order, even pilgrimages that
run the risk of ascetic extremes. The “sea of trust” need not be disdained
as foolhardy or assessed in terms of tempting God. In some ways, authenticity is
affirmed when the bar is set high. Postmodern inquirers are far less
convenience-oriented than their forbearers, and rise to the challenges of
seeking. There are biblical certainties and answers, to be sure, but perhaps
people get to know God better in the seeking itself. Especially when it asks
something of them.

And what of resurrecting a Christian appreciation of an imagination set free?
Can we become children again (Matthew 18:3), delighting in the possibilities of
“Elfland”, as Chesterton suggests, rather than defaulting to the ethical
commandeering so rampant in the adult world.28
Celtic spirituality gives as much credence to the poet, the artist, the dancer,
and the bard as it does to the theologian. It unabashedly entrusts the message
of the gospel to the powerful resources of the fine arts and does not hesitate
to appeal to all the senses even in liturgical contexts. Celtic spirituality
trusts that God is sovereign even over the highly subjective realm of the

Finally, as we pay attention to Celtic Christian ideas, we will work hard to
cultivate communities of faith that abound with “soul-friends.” In the midst
of the loneliness that ensues in seeking the sometimes hidden God of the Bible,
we will nevertheless experience the joy of discovering that we need not “go it
alone.” There is someone beside us. A real person. A real body with a soul
that resonates with our own. Churches can hardly program this, but they can
cultivate an environment in which soul-friends flourish. And they can advocate
that such a friend is essential in anyone’s journey toward God. They will read
much into Jesus’ statement, “No longer do I call you servants, but friends.”
(John 15:15)

Maybe then, the world of the maybes need not be approached with fear.
The place of unknowns can be entered and explored with anticipation, and not
alone, but with friends, fellow pilgrims on the journey to know and love God.
This community of friends can liberate our imaginations, motivate high-risk
steps of faith, and set us free from the tyranny of manufacturing easy answers
to hard questions about God. We can adventure on in the journey together, not
timidly, but with great exuberance.


1 Oliver
Davies and Fiona Bowie, Celtic Christian Spirituality: An Anthology of
Medieval and Modern Sources
(London: SPCK, 1995), 217-18.

2 The
idea of a “world of the maybe” is suggested by Erwin Raphael McManus in, An
Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God had in Mind

(Loveland, Colorado: Group, 2001), 58-59. “Hypermodernism,” says McManus,
“is the world of the maybe. Not just objective maybe, but the
subjective maybe. Not the maybe of the outside world, but the maybe
of the inside world. Too many of us have subdivided the world into what exists
outside of us and what exists within us. So many of the philosophical
discussions around postmodernism address the issue of objective truth and
reality. Is it noble? But I think that in some ways we’ve been naïve. The
objective maybe is born out of the subjective maybe. The loss of
confidence in knowing the outside world is a result of a loss of connection to
our inside world. We don’t simply see the maybe, we live the maybe.
For those whose lives are secured in a sense of absolute truth, whose most
comforting metaphor is that God is our rock and our foundation, this can be
extremely frustrating. And frankly, the church sounds so certain about
everything. There seem to be no maybes at all. We act as if we have it
all down. We’ve got all the answers. If you’re confused, just come to us
because we have it all mapped out. Sometimes it’s as if there is no mystery
to God or the gospel, yet Paul speaks of it as a mystery. And last time I
checked, the God of the Bible is still the invisible God.”

3 Andrew
Marvell (See, Andrew Marvell, The Complete Poems [Middlesex,
England: Penguin Books, 1972], 103-104) superbly expresses the frustrations of
finiteness in his work entitled, A Dialogue between the Soul and Body.
Here is but the first stanza.

O, who shall from
this dungeon raise
A soul, enslaved so many ways,
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands
In feet, and manacled in hands.
Here blinded with an eye; and there
Deaf with the drumming of an ear,
A soul hung up, as ‘twere, in chains
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins,
Tortured, besides each other part,
In a vain head, and double heart?

It could be argued,
of course, that this is but an harkening back to the old (and ever-present)
gnostic heresy that ridicules the corporeal and lauds the spirit. In the end,
however, Marvell dispels such fears by bringing the two together in a doxology
of holism. It is a brand of holism that finds joy in perplexity and delights
in mystery.

4 The
importance of appreciating the extremes of the nothing and the infinite is
suggested by Blaise Pascal: “For in fact what is man in nature? A Nothing in
comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean
between nothing and everything. Since he is infinitely removed from
comprehending the extremes, the end of things and their beginning are
hopelessly hidden from him in an impenetrable secret; he is equally incapable
of seeing the Nothing from which he was made, and the Infinite in which he is
swallowed up. What will he do then, but perceive the appearance of the middle
of things, in an eternal despair of knowing either their beginning or their
end? All things proceed from the Nothing, and are borne towards the Infinite.
Who will follow these marvelous processes? The Author of these wonders
understands them. None other can do.” (See, Pascal’s Pensees,
trans. W.F. Trotter [Everyman, 1947], 17-18.) Bryan Appleyard, in Understanding
the Present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man
(New York: Doubleday,
1993), 14, relates the lack of appreciation of the infinite to the way science
has left the human self emaciated: “This exclusion of the self from
explanations of science is a complex and profound matter that has implications
that will surface again and again in this book. Here I will simply say that it
cuts scientific man adrift from his moorings. Artistic expression over the
past 400 years, the age of science, persistently returns to the man alone,
lost and searching for something, though he is seldom sure precisely what.”

5 For
an excellent treatment of the importance of differentiating between God as
subject an object, see Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 49. The relationship between a
progressive theology and eschatological concerns is likewise addressed by
Grenz. See his, Renewing the Center: Evangelical Theology in a
Post-Theological Era
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 197, 343.

6 This
kind of emphasis on transcendence, therefore, rightly points up the inherent
weakness in what Grenz refers to as “foundational epistemology,” that
postmodern thinkers have been questioning for some time. We must, indeed,
question the way in which notions of transcendence can square with “grounding
the entire edifice of human knowledge on invincible certainty.” See, Stanley
J. Grenz and John R. Franke, Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in
a Postmodern Context
(Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001),
30, and W. Jay Wood, Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous
(Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998), 78-79.

7 The
significance of ambiguity, fluidity, and abstraction in Celtic artistic design
is highlighted by Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie, Celtic Christian
, prev. cit., 5. A brief explanation of the Celtic knot is
offered by Ian Bradley, The Celtic Way (London: DLT, 1993), 5.
For an engaging plea for the resurrection of imagination, see Thomas Howard, Chance
or Dance?
(New York: Lippencott, 1969).

8 Brendan
Lehane, The Quest of Three Abbots: The Golden Age of Celtic Christianity
(New York: Lindisfarne Press, 1968), 99.

9 Blaise
Pascal, Pensees (London: Penguin Books, 1995), 74.

10 Ian
Bradley, The Celtic Way, prev. cit., 80-83, captures the essence
of the Celtic pilgrimage: “The Celts themselves were well aware of the
difference between genuine peregrinatio and escapism to which they were
prone as race. The Book of Lismore, a medieval Irish compilation of the lives
of the saints, distinguishes three kinds of pilgrimage. The first, leaving one’s
country in a physical sense but with no inner change of heart, is dismissed as
a waste of time and energy. The second, earnestly desiring to leave everything
familiar and comfortable behind and embark on a life of pilgrimage but being
forced by pressing duties to remain at home, is recognized as a worthy
calling. The third, leaving one’s country for God and forsaking a life of
comfort and ease for one of austerity and virtue, is regarded as the highest
calling of all. This stress on the importance of the inner journey of
repentance, resurrections and rebirth brings us to the heart of the Celtic
idea of pilgrimage.”

11 Pleasure
and pain are both components of the pilgrim’s journey. Mortification is
necessarily unpleasant, but it yields a spiritual and bodily sensitivity that
is fully commensurate in the payoff. Brendan Lehane highlights loneliness
as one of the more common experiences of the Celtic pilgrim. But it is in
loneliness that she or he finds God. See, Brendan Lehane, The Quest of
Three Abbots
, prev. cit., 70.

12 St.
Columbanus (543-615) understood the journey as a hastening towards death in
which “the sure things and true” come into focus. See, T. Finan, ‘Hiberno-Latin
Christian Literature
,’ in J. Mackey (ed.), An Introduction to
Celtic Christianity
(Edinburgh: 1981), 73. There is a sense in which
the journey is as much an inner reality as it is material. The repeated act of
repentance is critical to both if resurrection and rebirth are to be more than
doctrinal. See, Ian Bradley, The Celtic Way, prev. cit., 80. The
one thing Brendan, Columba and Columbanus had in common was the commitment to
the search; the search for the unworldly, for refuge, for the place of
blessing, for purification, for God. For all of them it entailed traveling
through the desert. See, Brendan Lehane, The Quest of Three Abbots,
prev. cit., 3.

13 Dallas
Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes
(San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1988), 129. Brendan Lehane also
draws attention to this practice in the Celtic tradition. See, The Quest
of Three Abbots
, prev. cit., 73. He notes, however, that St. Brendan
considered this practice foolish and unnecessary. It should be noted that a
similar type of forced exile was mandated as a severe civil punishment for a
serious crime. The hermits, however, likened it to the criminal treatment of
Christ himself. See, The Quest of Three Abbots, 110.

14 Quoted
in, “The Impact of Christianity,” in Early Irish Society,
ed. Myles Dillon, trans. James Carney (Nottingham, Nottingham University
Press, 1968), 113.

15 Ian
Bradley contends that this preference is essentially “the ability to invest
the ordinary and the commonplace with sacramental significance, to find
glimpses of God’s glory throughout creation and to paint pictures in words,
signs and music that acted as icons opening windows on heaven and pathways to
eternity.” See his, The Celtic Way, prev. cit., 84.

16 Stress
on oral tradition no doubt points back to pre-Christian druidic influence and
to the highly respected role of the bard in Celtic history. It resulted in “an
indebtedness to poetry, mythology and imagry.” See, Oliver Davies and Fiona
Bowie, Celtic Christian Spirituality, prev. cit., 6, 12. It also
bespeaks an approach to the transcendent nature of God. Mysterious aspects are
subjected to very human means of expression, in imaginative use of words, in
artistic design, and in exciting the physical senses in a liturgical context.
Davies and Bowie (ibid., 12) go so far as to contend that “the poetic
tradition, then, was one of the principal ways in which a distinctive
spiritual sensibility was maintained in Wales.” For more on this, see also,
George G. Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism (Nashville:
Abingdon Press, 2000), 70-74.

17 Nuala
Ni Dhomhnaill, “Marvelous Grass,” from her Selected Poems: Rogha
, trans. Michael Hartnett (Dublin: The Raven Arts Press, 1992).

18 Brendan
Kennelly, “Sculpted From Darkness,” in his, Breathing Spaces: Early
(Belfast: Bloodaxe Books, 1992).

19 According
to Stanley Grenz, the one presupposition that may be basic to Christian
theology is the backdrop of the believing community. It satisfies a hunger for
family values (in the open rather than restrictive sense) that is both
non-foundationalist and a “decidedly postmodern” hunger. But it also
shapes “conceptions of rationality,” and, in a sense, accounts for the “loss
of certitude,” as it is happy in the realization that “various communities
may disagree as to the relevant set of paradigm instances of basic beliefs.”
See, Stanley J. Grenz, Renewing the Center, prev. cit., 201.

20 Kenneth
Leech, Soul Friend (London: DLT, 1996), 116. For a good
description of the Celtic role of the soul-friend, see Ian Bradley, The
Celtic Way
, prev. cit., 73.

21 Brendan
Lehane, The Quest of Three Abbots, prev. cit., 107. Some contend
that this statement is better attributed to St. Brigid (450-525).

22 John
Macquarrie refers to this aspect of Celtic spirituality as “an intense sense
of presence.” Human beings have the potential of being God-intoxicated, “embraced
on all sides by the divine Being.” See, John Macquarrie, Paths in
(London: SCM Press, 1972), 122-24. Celtic Christian
belief, according to Bradley, also emphasizes Incarnational theology to the
degree that the presence of Jesus can be tangibly experienced, “encircled by
him, upheld by him and encompassed by him.” See, Ian Bradley, The
Celtic Way
, prev. cit., 33.

23 Stanley
J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 2000), 81. Pannenberg’s description of God as “the power of the
future” may serve to counter atheistic criticism, but it does little for
contemporary Celtic practitioners. See, Wolfhart Pannenberg, The Idea of
God and Human Freedom
, trans. R.A. Wilson (Philadelphia: Westminster
Press, 1973), 110.

24 Francis
A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There (Downers Grove, IL:
Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), 56. Schaeffer disparagingly discusses such an
approach to mysticism in terms of “the jump on the new theology,” that is
“no more than a jump into an undefinable, irrational, semantic mysticism.”
I deliberately turn to Schaeffer, not because I concur with all his
conclusions, but as a premier example of thoughtful evangelicalism in the
modern era. It must be kept in mind that he is also an exemplary product of
strict foundationalism which postmodern thinkers rightly continue to

25 Schaeffer,
The God Who Is There, 62.

26 Schaeffer,
The God Who Is There, 84.

27 Gordon
Fee suggests that, contextually, Paul has in mind, “the thoughts of Christ
as they are revealed by the Spirit,” noting the Apostle’s use of the LXX
in which “mind” translates the Hebrew ruah, most often referring to
“spirit.” Fee, as well, notes the importance of the emphatic “we.”
See, Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 119-20.

28 See,
G.K. Chesterton, “The Ethics of Elfland,” in Orthodoxy (Wheaton,
IL: Harold Shaw, 1994), 45. Chesterton suggests that Elfland is the world in
which the imagination is free to envision possibilities within the seemingly
impossible. It is a world in which faith is ignited by imagination.

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