Once upon a time you came to the point where you were sure a matter could not be reduced or simplified any further. But then a child showed up with a question and you had to explain it to them —
and then you were at a loss for words.
Good news. Explanation does not have to abandon mystery. But explanation and teaching must lay a foundation for complexity that grants the reader and interpreter certain sophistication. Those foundations are often simple — complexity is reduced. But the building and the living of life on that foundation creates complexity. An archway built on a foundation is both simple and complex. For learners, the ability to hold what seem to be opposite or opposing thoughts in tension requires maturity. Not just maturity of age, but maturity of thought and emotion in relationship to the subject.
For example, Christians, explaining how they handle the Old Testament have to negotiate many complexities. However, we can take hold of explanations that allow us to synthesize the history, the prayers, and sometimes terrible beauties of the text even as we move toward the revelation of Jesus Christ. These simplified pictures (like the one below) create a framework for theological work and for adding other disciplines such as archeology, history, textual analysis and sociology to our readings of the text. The task of building on foundations is taken up not as an end in and of itself, but as a step in the process of becoming like Christ and participating in His mission.