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 10, 2012

A Vintage Defense of THEOparadox

I recently re-read some comments on an old thread from another blog where my belief about Biblical paradox was directly (and somewhat harshly) challenged (and I was "named"). I had responded with a brief defense of my convictions. It's been a few years now, and re-reading my response to the criticism encouraged me. I hope it encourages you, too. Here it is:

I am a simple, Calvinistic Christian with a relentless commitment to the absolute authority, complete inerrancy and full sufficiency of the Bible. Coupled with this (and flowing from it), I affirm the total, pervasive depravity of fallen human beings – including some significant intellectual limitations. Biblically, I find no evidence to suggest that man’s mental faculties are on a par with God’s. Logically, pervasive depravity would imply that our mental faculties are seriously messed up.
That’s pretty much it. I do not love paradoxes, though I do appreciate what we can learn by studying them. And it’s not a worship of paradox that drives me. It’s a tremendous awe of the glorious wonders of the God Who saves sinners. That, to me, is a supreme paradox. I can explain it with words, but I still don’t understand it (in other words, deeply, at the heart level, I’m still saying “God, WHY? WHY would you choose me?).
I embrace paradoxes in order to solve them, if possible. When they can’t be solved without breaking Scripture, I leave them unsolved and confess the weakness of all human thought. I affirm the existence of Biblical paradoxes in a spirit of intellectual honesty – because any thinking Christian will encounter, and have to work through, apparent contradictions in the Scriptures. On philosophical matters, where there is no revelation from God, I choose to leave all arguments at the level of theory, and refuse to go beyond what is written, and I stake my soul on the Word of God alone. Wherever there are unknowns, there can be the appearance of contradiction without the reality of contradiction. That much should be logically obvious, without need of defense. So, unless we think God has exhaustively revealed Himself, apparent (not real) contradiction is a possibility that should be considered. One ought to say “I don’t know” more often than one does – especially if one maintains Scripture is the most reliable epistemic source in the universe. So I will not acceept any person’s explanation-of-Scripture as being of equal weight with Scripture. Rather, I assign varying degrees of Scriptural warrant to any explanation offered. The more Scripturally grounded an explanation is, the more likely it is true. But I will not make man’s thoughts equivalent to God’s Word. I also refuse to take anything away from the Word of God. There are plenty of ways to twist Scripture in order to create an apparent coherence that will suit man’s mind, but I reject all degradations of God’s Word. Man is deceived and stupid – and even Christians are coming out of the fog created by their sin – so it’s ludicrous to say that we can reconcile everything in our tiny, cluttered brains. Man’s mind trying to grapple with God’s thoughts is like a guy on a child’s tricycle competing at the Daytona Speedway. He’s there, and he’s participating, but he’s missing a few gears. He can take a try at the high sides, but he’s liable to tip.
So, what’s left? Only this: a tireless effort to rationally explain the coherence of Scripture, but NEVER at the expense of Scripture. I believe and trust the whole Bible, but I distrust man’s mind. I trust in Christ, not my understanding of Christ. I cling to the Word, not my theological system. I make my boast in the cross, not man’s ability to make sense of the cross. God’s Word is true, all men are liars. Period.


  1. That encourged me, too! I don't know when or where you posted those thoughts, but they certainly formed a well reasoned and rational response. I'm so convinced that most our trouble comes when we try to "fit" Scripture into something we can comprehensively contain, as it were, in our finite minds. Loved this sentence of yours: "There are plenty of ways to twist Scripture in order to create an apparent coherence that will suit man’s mind."

  2. Blaine,

    I got to teach on this topic in Sunday School yesterday. It was like a dream come true. Now, if I can take it on the road to some seminaries and Bible colleges ... Sorry, just dreaming out loud :)



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