Excerpts collated from Mere Christianity by C S Lewis and Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning.
All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned in suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and preciousness of it.
People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.
It is of immense importance to understand that every word spoken and written about God is delivered in the language of analogy. In any divine analogy, there is a similarity between the human words used about God and the reality of God himself; there is also, however, a radical dissimilarity. What is affirmed in one breath must be denied in the next.
For example, we liken divine love to human love. The similarity induces us to think that we are getting a grip on God’s love. And yet, though human love is the best image we have, it is utterly inadequate to express the love of the Infinite…
The more we let go of our concepts and images, which always limit God, the bigger God grows and the more we approach the mystery of his in-definability.
Mystery is an embarrassment to the modern mind. All that is elusive, enigmatic, hard to grasp will eventually yield to our intellectual investigation, then to our conclusive categorization – or so we would like to think.
When we are brought not only in thought but in the totality of our being before the great mystery which touches the taproot of our existence… immediately our credentials of independence vanish, and we cease to carry ourselves with the swagger of the executive who knows what’s up and has all under control.
The human tendency toward projection – ascribing to God our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about ourselves and others – is unmasked in all its absurdity. Distorted images and caricatures of God as vengeful, whimsical, fickle, and punitive are exposed for what they are – puny and pathetic human constructs.
The same judgement is passed on the illusion of control.