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!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Paradox in Christian Theology, Part 1

I've been working on the next post in the "That's Impossible!" series, currently exploring the Sermon on the Mount. I'm also in the middle of buying a house, which is eating up a lot of time and messing up my blogging schedule. In the meantime, I ordered a copy of a book I've been looking forward to reading for quite some time. It arrived in the mail today.

The book is Paradox in Christian Theology: An Analysis of Its Presence, Character, and Epistemic Status, by James Anderson.

Anderson holds two PhD's from the University of Edinburgh, one in Computer Simulation and the other in Philosophical Theology. His book is an in-depth, scholarly defense of the paradox concept in Christianity. Anderson believes that philosophical paradox is not only present in Christian theology, but also to be expected - and nothing to be embarrassed about.

More information about James Anderson can be found here (

Over the next weeks or months (depending on how fast I can read and digest the material), I'll be reviewing and quoting from the book. Paul Manata has already written a thorough discussion of the book here (Triablogue).

Manata's review is about 1/10 the length of the 320-page book! Mine will be decidedly shorter, and divided into several parts.

Anderson opens the introduction with this quote from Soren Kierkegaard:

"One should not think slightingly of the paradoxical; for the paradox is the source of the thinker's passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity."

Anderson quickly acknowledges the fact that many within and outside of the faith find the very idea of logical paradox to be totally unacceptable. He also notes that many others find it acceptable and even essential. He offers this definition of paradox:

"As I will be using the term, it is synonymous with apparent contradiction. A 'paradox' thus amounts to a set of claims which taken in conjunction appear to be logically inconsistent. Note that according to this definition, paradoxicality does not entail logical inconsistency per se, but merely the appearance of logical inconsistency. (pp. 5-6)

This is a great definition. I would only add that the appearance of logical inconsistency is owing to our creaturehood, our fallen nature, and the fact that God's self-revelation is not exhaustive. Therefore, some of the paradoxes will never be solved in the present age. We embrace them because we believe the Bible is the Word of God.

I'm looking forward to Anderson's defense of paradox in Christian theology from an apologetical and philosophical standpoint. I'll keep you posted as I read.

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