Thanks for writing, nate!!
You commented on my "foothold" in dealing with slippery matters, and it got me to thinking about how I have come to such a place. I can tell you that it didn't happen because of all my attempts to get a handle on it, but in spite of them!! :)
I was taught that I needed to have an answer for every question anyone might ask me. For a few years I strived to achieve that ridiculous goal, but it only created a desperation within me to become the ultimate "answer-man". Guess what I really learned from it? I learned how to accumulate answers so that I could spew them out when needed. Of course, it wasn't at all surprising to find that my accumulated answers often clashed with the accumulated answers of others.
Something in me knew there was something wrong with always being right - especially when MY "right" didn't fare too well against somebody else's "right". :) Though I think what bothered me the most was that "having all the answers" seemed to produce a lack of any real life. Somewhere along the line I decided to examine the Biblical "proof text" upon which I learned this notion. What I discovered is that it stated nothing about having all the answers, or even having a lot of the answers, or even having a few of the answers. The "answer" referred to in that verse had to do with what those believers were to say when asked what made them tick. Fear was causing them to keep silent instead of giving the real reason for their hope.
You see, while I was trying to "do what the Bible says" I was in reality only doing what my teachers had ignorantly taught me to do. I responded by teaching others to do the same. Doh!! :) It was a relief to understand that it was not up to me to have all the answers, but it did present me with the dilemma of what to do with those answers I had accumulated. After all, even if the answers I learned were accurate, they rarely touched the real stuff of life that was happening right in front of me.
It might sound "victorious" if I said that my confusion ceased after that time, but in truth, in many ways, it got worse. But my confusion has only made the answer as to what makes me tick more obvious. Why? The answer is life, and life is found in the one who is the joining of God and man: Christ.
Jim Minker :)