Pea Brain Theology


Someday I am going to write a book.  I’m not sure if anyone will buy it or read it, but I am still going to write it.  It’s going to be called Pea Brain Theology by The Highly Esteemed Most Reverend Warren Pfohl.  Ok, let’s get rid of the Highly Esteemed Most Reverend part and just say by Warren Pfohl, a self-proclaimed Pea Brain.  Here is the big idea:

  1. I’m a pea brain
  2. God is not
  3. Therefore I am not always going to understand everything God does or allows
  4. So I cling to the things a pea brain can understand and trust in His goodness and love for pea brains like me

There is no doubt there have been countless times you have thought, “Why, God, would you allow x, y, or z to happen?”  Or, you have screamed at the top of your lungs, “If you were a loving God you would not have allowed x, y, or z to occur!”  It is the age-old question of why a good God would allow evil or suffering to occur at all.  We, of course, asked those questions when we got our son’s diagnosis.  We heard the words progressive, untreatable, and fatal and our world began to crumble.  My Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, my ordination as a Minister of the Gospel, and my six years as a missionary brought no comfort to the reality that my son was going to die.  It was then that I began to realize that I was “Pea Brain.”  I realized there was no way my little brain could ever comprehend or understand all the ways of God and his purposes.

When I say I am a “Pea Brain” I don’t mean to say I know nothing.  There is a great deal a “Pea Brain” can know and understand about God.  I can know he is all powerful, that he is always good, that He loves me, that he hears me when I talk to him, that he is a powerful and beautiful creator, that if I mess up he is willing to forgive me, that he seeks to comfort us when we are lonely and depressed, that he is a promise keeper, and that nothing limits his knowledge.  But there is so much I simply can’t understand.  Why would God let my father die at 58 years of age, leaving my mom alone?  Why did my son get Batten Disease?  Why did Finn die of Rhabdomyosarcoma?  Why did my friend fall 30 feet from a tree and crush his pelvis and break all his ribs?  Why did my nephew die on his way to be trained to work as a missionary on the Appalachian Train?  Why, why, why???

So what do we do when the “Why” is unanswerable?  What do we do when it is impossible to understand the brokenness that enters our world?   Do we toss all the things we know to be true about God because He didn’t answer our prayers?  Do we submit our resume to replace God because we think we know better or could do a better job?  Or, do we cling to the truth that God by his very nature is good and acknowledge the truth that we are “Pea Brains?” To say we are “Pea Brains” simply admits the truth that we are unable to see the bigger picture, but God can.

I read this great illustration in a book I am reading called The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn.  He writes,

Imagine an air traffic controller instructing a pilot to assume a certain altitude and to take a certain line of descent.  The pilot might argue, “That doesn’t make sense to me.  It would be easier to make a different approach.”  But he doesn’t argue because he knows hundreds of other flights come in and out each hour.  Good pilots must know the limits of their understanding and trust those who have the big picture, who can see the potential consequences of each pilots decisions.”

So as a self-proclaimed “Pea Brain,” I admit the limitations of my understanding.   I can’t see the bigger picture.  But God can!  Therefore, when there are no answers for the “why”, when my heart aches from no longer having David, when friends are experiencing great loss, I cry out in my loudest “Pea Brain” voice for God to intervene and for Him to give me the faith to trust and believe in his goodness.  I cling to the verse that says,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8,9