Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What is Theoparadox

This is a blog dedicated to exploring the idea that paradox is an essential element for any genuinely Biblical thinking about God. There is much in Biblical revelation that is beyond human understanding. It may not be that God's nature, character and ways are too complex, but that they are quite simple and WE are too complex! This is why we are called to approach God with humility. I hope this blog will provide food for thought and help you move toward a deeper worship of the Sovereign One who IS LOVE. I pray that this worship will express itself in thoughtful admiration of WHO HE IS as well as deeds of service done in grateful response to WHAT HE'S DONE for us on the cross. We'll explore some of the classic paradoxes in Christian theology (and maybe some lesser known paradoxes), as well as the implications of God's self-revelation - and we'll do some devotional Bible study, too.

Some of these articles will search out the senses in which particular seemingly contradictory statements can be validly made. For example, we might look at the ways in which both of these concepts are true:

P1 All events are foreknown and decreed by God.
P2 Prayer is essential and effective.

Both statements are Biblically warranted and undeniable. The apparent contradictions our minds produce from them may or may not be resolvable. But we will gain insight and a better understanding of God's Word as we compare Scripture with Scripture and explore these matters. I pray we will be increasingly motivated toward grace-inspired, faith-born obedience through the studies done here.

Thanks for checking out THEOparadox.
Soli Deo Gloria - to God alone be glory!

PS - if you're still wondering what "THEOparadox" is, it's a coined word made from THEOS (the Greek word for God) and PARADOX (seemingly contradictory truths that cannot be harmonized using human logic alone). Essentially, "Theoparadox" is a call to Biblical humility and worship.
What exists in two dimensions may be logically impossible to build in three


  1. Hi, Derek... I haven't had time to read much of your blog. But I like it that you oppose the McClaren brand of liberalism.

    However, I don't agree that there are paradoxes in Scripture. For me they are merely things that we have not yet come to fully understand. Most "apparent" paradoxes have logical answers and most of them have been answered to one degree or another.

    My problem with the paradox view is that it capitulates too much to neo-orthodoxy. My own views are closer to Carl F. H. Henry or Gordon H. Clark that Scripture contains "propositional truth."

    I take it that you are a Calvinist of some sort as well?

    In Christ,


  2. Charlie,

    Thanks for being the first to comment on this post.

    I'm a moderate Calvinist, Credo-Baptisitic, and conservatively charismatic. I identify most with the theological perspectives of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

    For the most part, I agree with your statement that Scripture is propositional. But one of the main points of this blog is to affirm that God's ways are higher than ours, and that the propositions sometimes seem to cross one another. I'm exploring the various reasons for this, trying to resolve apparent contradictions if possible, and theorizing about some of the deeper matters of Reformed theology.

    I've tangled with some Clarkians over my approach here, but I find the disussion interesting and I'm certainly not the Van Tillian that some have assumed I am. I'm still studying Van Til v. Clark and some of the issues there, finding I agree with both of them on some points, and disagree on some. I don't think I really understand Van Til, which is not surprising, given his generally confusing modes of expression. Either he's brilliant or he's a complete fruit loop!

    I'm a fan of Piper Edwards, the Puritans, etc. and ESPECIALLY the Bible.

    I wouldn't call myself a "confessional Calvinist" because I haven't read most of the creeds and confessions yet. But from what I've seen so far, I probably agree with 95% of what is written in the major Reformed creeds.

    You are certainly correct in saying that there are some dangers in the paradox view. The Neo-orthodox teachers went WAY TOO FAR. I've tried to be careful to distance myself from guys like Barth. However, I find in Calvin and in many other historic Calvinists a strong affirmation of mysteries, paradoxes, and things inexplicable but nonetheless true. The major focus here is on the kinds of paradoxes that are affirmed within orthodox, Reformed theology (pre-Van Til).

    That's a long answer to a short question, which I hope it adequately answers.

    Grace & peace,

  3. Within the last few years I have been convicted to leave the Arminian camp and recognize reformed theology as truth over and against many of the doctrines I would have fought tooth and nail for before. Which lead me to your site. Now when I read the scriptures I embrace the tension and paradoxes that I come across instead of turning a blind eye and pretending as if they don't exist. I have no formal training and didn't even know biblical paradoxes were part of christian vernacular. I was pleased to see I am not the only one interested in this subject. I was worried I was off base. I look forward to reading all that you have on the subject. I fill in for the pastor quite often at our church and was thinking this may be my next sermon topic. Thanks Brother Scott Wallace Palmdale Ca.

  4. Scott,

    Thanks very much for this comment, it is encouraging. Admittedly, I've meandered a bit in my understanding of paradoxes, and I'd have to say this blog is more "exploratory" than definitive regarding these matters. Throughout my meandering, however, certain truths have remained at the forefront:

    1. The Bible is inerrant and fully sufficient.
    2. God is transcendent, infinite, and by nature way beyond us - morally, intellectually, and in every other way possible.
    3. We are totally depraved, morally corrupt in all parts (i.e., pervasively). That means even our intellectual faculties are faulty and we need the Word to correct us.
    4. Some divine things (including some things spoken of in Scripture) are simply beyond us and mysterious.
    5. On the other hand, there is sufficient clarity in Scripture regarding all essential points.

    I believe these perspectives are foundational to Reformed theology, and every attempt to undermine them has led to some sort of imbalance or even heresy. The writings of great Reformed theologians of the past seem to bear this out (Calvin included).

    Feel free to comment on anything you find here, I'm always glad to have thoughtful feedback.

    I was greatly influenced by a sermon series found here:

    The 7-part series was called "Let God be God." It's from a very balanced Calvinist named Brad Bigney, and it shattered my Arminian theology by showing me the reality of Biblical mystery and paradox.

    I also recommend James Anderson's book "Paradox in Christian Theology." It's a heavy read, but it lays out the logical foundations for belief in theological paradoxes.

    Grace & peace,
    Derek Ashton

  5. I like this subject for it help sharpens my mind on how will I judge scripturally rather than theologically. It may again be a paradox but this is where sometimes the line is drawn when bible students approaches the bible for truth and application. You know there are truths in the bible that we need not practice and on the other hand there are those we do but is not commanded in scriptures. I think you understand me.
    I am looking forward for many articles on this subject.
    Its Me,


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