The Wound of Knowledge

Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams on the contradictions within Christian life:

“Christianity begins in contradictions, in the painful effort to live with the baffling plurality and diversity of God’s manifested life – law and gospel, judgment and grace; the crucified Son crying to the Father. Christian experience does not simply move from one level to the next and stay there, but is drawn again and again to the central and fruitful darkness of the cross. But in this constant movement outwards in affirmation and inwards in emptiness, there is life and growth. The end is not yet; the frustrated longing for homecoming, the journey’s end, is unavoidable. Yet we can perhaps begin to see, through all the cost and difficulty, how we are entering more deeply into a divine life which is itself diverse and moving – Father and Son eternally brought to each other in Spirit. To discover in our ‘emptying’ and crucifying the ‘emptying’ of Jesus on his cross is to find God there, and so to know that God is not destroyed or divided by the intolerable contradictions of human suffering. He is one in the Spirit, and in the same Spirit includes us and our experience, setting us within his own life in the place where Jesus his firstborn stands, as sharers by grace in that eternal loving relationship, men and women made whole in him. In the middle of the fire we are healed and restored – though never taken out of it. As Augustine wrote, it is at night that his voice is heard. To want to escape the ‘night’ and the costly struggles with doubt and vacuity is to seek another God from the one who speaks in and as Jesus crucified. Crux probat omnia. There is no other touchstone. ‘I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ (1 Cor. 2:2,5).”

The Wound of Knowledge, pg. 190-91.