Having an “It’s Okay But” Theology that I Don’t Always Need to Resolve

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

The older I become the less I need to be certain concerning issues of theology, faith, and life. When I was much younger, it was easy to see such issues in black and white terms. It seemed so important to have a perspective or a position on anything and everything regardless of how well informed I was on any given topic or issue. However, the older I get the more greys I see and it is less important to be an expert on simply anything or everything. It doesn’t mean I have watered down my faith; in fact, it is as strong or stronger than it has ever been. I have certainly been through my share of hardships, difficulties and troubles, which instead of weakening my faith has deepened it. I still hold tight to the foundational truths of the faith. Yet I also recognise that my understanding is always incomplete.

As some of you may know I grew up in the north-east of England where we have this wonderful quirk in our use of the English language of ending sentences with “but”. Thus, one of my most frequented sayings was, “ It’s okay, but.” This, in one sense, implies and even states that we have arrived at the end of a sentence. Yet, there is another sense in which there is always more to come, maybe not immediately but later in the conversation. It comes from seeing the issue or issues and realising that while a certain thing may be true. There is still something more that needs to be said. However, as I have grown older, and hopefully a bit wiser though not much, I still have an “it’s okay but” theology recognising that most theological statements are mostly only part of the truth, and there is still more to say on the matter in hand. Yet, I also realise that I don’t always need to resolve the issue or issues at hand, and I am more than comfortable in living with the dialectical tension of two seemingly irreconcilable positions without needing to work it all out. I am increasingly comfortable in accepting the mystery of it all.

Moreover, even if an issue is the issue of the day, I feel at home with not taking up a position, even when others are wanting me to when I am either not ready to do so or I have not yet made my mind up on the matter. The reality I don’t need to have a position on anything or everything. It is such a relief, yet I also understand I need to engage the issues of the day and am willing to do so, but only when I am ready and able to make a helpful or seemingly wise contribution to those issues.

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