Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary, Lisle, Illinois
“The dearth of theology among so many is addressed in this short, snappy book that examines baskets of these tension points in our faith and it examines them fairly, clearly, and sensitively. What a wonderful idea for an introduction to Christian theology!”
Book of the week:
Introduction to the book:
An apparent contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary.
Whether you’re new to faith or have been a Christian all your life, you’ll know that the Christian faith can often seem confusing. At times it even appears completely contradictory. The Bible reveals that Jesus is both fully God and fully man; that God is a being of mercy but also of wrath; that we are both saints and sinners in God’s eyes—the list goes on. Lean too heavily towards either side of these apparently contradictory statements and, at worst, we fall into a world of heresy; at best, the simple life of faith becomes strained with misunderstanding and confusion.
This book presents twenty-three apparent contradictions in the Christian faith. Many could be classified as mere paradoxes and, with a little investigation, relatively quickly resolved. Other apparent contradictions, however, are not so straightforward. These are the great mysteries of the Bible. They are by their nature antinomies—appearing to be ‘against themselves’—and often go beyond our realm of understanding. For example, it doesn’t seem possible that the being of God could be three distinct persons, while each person is simultaneously fully God. Nor does it seem possible that Mary could bear a child, and at the same time be a virgin. Such mysteries require supernatural understanding in order to obtain a true sense of their meaning. Thankfully, God is at hand to help.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Prov. 2:6)
In every case of apparent contradiction, whether paradox or mystery, Scripture provides a clear framework to aid our understanding. The Bible doesn’t try to reconcile both sides of the argument—it merely states both to be true. From this emerges a framework of ‘both-and’. In other words, we are simply required to hold up both sides of these apparent contradictions as equally true and valid. Not to choose one over the other, but rather, to let them co-exist.
Charles Spurgeon, when asked how he could reconcile God’s sovereignty with our human responsibility, replied simply: ‘I never have to reconcile friends. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility have never had a falling out with each other. I do not need to reconcile what God has joined together.’
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