Swiss Cheese Theology

Swiss cheese theology. Or one might also call it hole in the fence theology.

No, I’m not talking about holes in our theology or our doctrine. Rather, I’m suggesting that maybe our theology and doctrines only see a small portion of who God is. Like peeking through a hole in a slice of swiss cheese. Or a hole in a fence.

My kids call it stinky cheese, but I love swiss cheese. I was eating a piece of it recently and it had a perfect, round hole in the center. Feeling silly, I held it up to my eye and peeked through it. I couldn’t see the whole kitchen, only the tiny bit I could see through the hole. There’s the microwave. And if I turn just a bit, there’s the door to the garage. Turn a bit more, the stove top. You get the idea. Looking through that tiny hole only allows me to see a tiny bit of the room.

I’ve found numerous reports, counts, and estimates of how many different christian denominations we have. We know of the various great schisms in the church throughout the years. Eastern and Western Orthodox. Catholic and Protestant. And it continues from there. To major denominations we know of as Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, Pentacostal, Baptist, and so many more. Of course, that’s leaving out a plethora of other divisions that have occurred from the beginning of what we know of as the early church.

Each one has its own creeds, doctrines, tenants. Each one has lists of Scripture verses to support its beliefs. Sometimes even traditions held up along with the Scriptures.

And they all are like holes in swiss cheese. Or in a fence. By peeking through, we see glimpses of God. We see manifestations of who he is. But rarely does one exhibit or capture the entirety of our enormous God.

If we’re not careful, the holes become boxes. We wall off the section of our hole and claim we have the whole truth of who God is. And the others, well, maybe some have bits of truth, but not like we do. We stand on the truth we see in our box, proclaiming we’ve figured it out. And we don’t take the time or the opportunity to peek through the other holes. Sometimes we even react with shock at the idea. Because the other holes couldn’t be truth. Truth is seen through our hole. And we miss out on seeing so much more of our enormous God.

Reading the Bible can be a dangerous thing. If you want to hold on to your hole, your doctrine, your tiny bit of truth, don’t read the Bible. And by reading it, I mean the entirety of it. Beginning to end. Not just your favorite parts. Or the parts that describe your hole, this verse or that verse. This passage or that passage. The whole thing.

Because there are parts of the Bible that will blow more holes in your Swiss cheese. More holes in your fence. It can be uncomfortable. It might shake a bit of your foundation.

But you might find that suddenly you’re seeing more of God than ever before. You’re seeing more of his story and what he’s doing and how it all might fit together in his expansive plan.

You see the microwave. And you turn just a bit, and there’s the door to the garage. You turn a bit more, the stove top.

Suddenly you realize there’s an entire room. A house. God’s house. Bigger than we’ve known. Bigger than we realize. And because of Jesus, it’s filled with all of us who love him, each peeking through our own holes to see him.


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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