What is THEOparadox?
The THEOparadox blog is 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, and at least a few things that seem contradictory to our human minds. 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! Explaining paradoxes requires us to move toward increasing complexity of logic, but God in His Essence is ONE. The ways in which two or more concepts categorized separately by human logic become one concept in God's unity is a deep mystery. This is why we are called to approach God with humility.
The goal of this blog is to provide food for thought and help readers move toward a deeper worship of the Soverign One who IS LOVE. I pray that this worship will express itself in thoughtful admiration of WHO HE IS and in deeds of service done in grateful response for 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. We'll also look at examples of theological paradox in orthodox Reformed theology.
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 propositions are true:
P1 All events are foreknown and decreed by God.
P2 Prayer is essential and effective.
Both statements are Biblically warranted and undeniable for Christians. 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.
Are there Biblical Foundations for THEOparadox?
Following are some of the Scripture verses and passages that form the Biblical basis for a theology that deliberately and gratefully embraces Biblical paradox, mystery & irony. Note that there is much here of the sovereignty and greatness of God, and much of the weak, helpless state of fallen man. Throughout Scripture, God's knowledge is consistently presented as complete and limitless, while man's knowledge is always viewed as limited in both scope and depth.
Known & Unknown, Revealed & Hidden
From these passages, it is clear that there are some divine matters that can be known, and some that cannot be known, either because God has hidden them or because man is incapable of discovering, explaining or understanding them. It is also evident that some matters which are hidden to unbelievers are revealed to believers. They are understood only by faith. The Scriptures are remarkably candid in what they place beyond the reach of human intellect - and in what they maintain as absolutely certain and knowable for believers.
Paradoxical Irony & Paradoxical Mystery
To define the terms a little further, some Biblical paradoxes fall into the category of paradoxical irony, while others are deep paradoxical mysteries. The ironies are meant to be understood and resolved, but the mysteries cannot be fully explained. For example, Jesus ironically declares: "He who loses his life for My sake will find it." To the world this is utter foolishness, but believers who have surrendered their lives to the Lord find it both sensible and encouraging. Christ's teachings and Paul's writings are brimming with incredible statements like this. The words often seem impossible on the surface, but they point to deeper, underlying truths. These sayings are not ultimately mysterious. On the other hand, there are facts which the Scriptures clearly state but do not fully explain. These mysterious teachings will always remain partially incomprehensible to our fallen minds, no matter how much effort we put into explaining them. The incarnation and the two natures of Christ fit squarely in this category, along with many other key doctrines of the Word of God (if you doubt this, try to explain the virgin birth using human logic alone). Those of us who happily embrace Reformed theology are accustomed to wrestling with very mysterious matters such as the relation between God's hidden will (the "will of decree") and His revealed will (the "will of command"). Historically, there have been endless attempts to reconcile sovereign election and human responsibility, divine causality and the origin of sin, divine goodness and the existence of evil, universal love and limited salvation, etc. Some very worthy possible explanations have been offered, but none of them are complete. It is a grave mistake to stop wrestling with these mysteries, as God has ordained them with the intention that they should continually amaze, overwhelm and conquer us. We should not be surprised that our mental capabilities are too small to fully explain these matters. Rather, we ought to be shocked that God's wisdom and grace have allowed sinful human beings to understand SO MUCH of them. In view of our creaturehood and inherent depravity, it's a miracle that we can understand ANY of God's truth.
Skepticism & Apparent Contradictions
Skeptics have filled their books with supposed contradictions from the Scriptures. Many of these "contradictions" are the result of grasping at straws and failing to understand the context or content of the Bible. Some simply require historical or archeological clarification, or possibly a better understanding of Biblical cultures and customs. Some apparent contradictions result from overlooking the vocabulary used in the original languages, when two different words in the original are translated into the same English word. A small amount of study can easily resolve these. However, we must acknowledge the existence of a few verbal contradictions that call us to meditate on the words of Scripture and discover why the Holy Spirit inspired the words to be written as they were. See this series of posts for an example of this. There is not a single apparent contradiction in the Bible that cannot be resolved to a satisfactory extent by a thoughtful, prayerful Christian.
The words of Christ are of special importance, as much for what they leave unsaid as for the things they reveal. They are filled with what is commonly called "rhetorical paradox" (a literary device which is designed to make the hearer think, and usually makes sense after a bit of contemplation - I like to call it "paradoxical irony"). This is a somewhat different matter than the wider logical paradox inherent in doctrines such as the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, and the relation of divine sovereignty to human choice. But one amazing fact about Christ's teaching is this: the Only One Who could explain the divine mysteries never did so. Instead He spoke in paradoxes and parables, to such an extent that in John 16:29 His disciples said, "Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech."
Paul & Mystery
Paul's use of the term "mystery" (Greek MUSTERION) is worth mentioning, but we will not deal with it extensively here. Suffice it to say, the oft-repeated and classic definition for MUSTERION as "something once hidden, now revealed" does not fit every use of the word in the New Testament. There may be more "mystery" in MUSTERION than some scholars are willing to admit. With 27 occurrences in the New Testament - and describing such important subjects as the faith, Christ, the Church, the Gospel, and God's will - this concept is worthy of further study.
Test Everything, Hold onto the Good
The following verses are offered without further commentary, in the hope that you will study them in context and in the original languages. A sincere effort has been made to use only those passages that can be properly applied to the discussion of Biblical paradox. However, if you find that I have misinterpreted something or misconstrued the intent of a verse, please use the comments to let me know.
SOLI DEO GLORIADeuteronomy 29:29
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 Isaiah 40:28
I Corinthians 2:1-16
II Corinthians 9:15
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 Isaiah 40:28
I Corinthians 2:1-16
II Corinthians 9:15
Click here to see this article with the full Scripture texts from the NASB
How Can There be Paradoxes in God's Word?
Some who oppose the idea of paradox in the Bible do so for very good reasons. Many want to affirm that Scripture is free from contradiction. Some want to maintain philosophical foundations that uphold the validity of logic. Others want to emphasize the sufficiency of Scripture. Some simply desire to avoid any appearance of irrationality or confusion.
Ironically, THEOparadox shares each of these viewpoints and holds them as essential.
1. Scripture is free from actual contradiction.
2. Logic is valid.
3. The Bible is entirely sufficient.
4. Irrationality and confusion are not desirable.
However, there is a vast difference between actual contradiction and apparent contradiction. The validity of logic does not rule out supra-logic. The sufficiency of Scripture does not turn it into a propositional Rubik's Cube. And a rational view of reality does not mean we can understand everything.
THEOparadox does not affirm that there are explicit contradictions in the Scriptures and in orthodox Christian theology. Rather, based on a firm commitment to inerrancy and Biblical balance, it affirms that there are implied contradictions. A paradox is formed whenever two or more true statements appear,through implication, to contradict one another. This situation can arise whenever some information is not available. The following example serves to illustrate this point.
APPARENT CONTRADICTION #1
P1 The fence was built to keep things out
P2 The fence was built to keep things in
Two stubborn, logically consistent people could argue about these apparently contradictory propositions for a long time before realizing that both are true. The purpose of a fence is to keep some things out and to keep other things in. At this point one would be wise to affirm both propositions, for they do not actually contradict one another. Perhaps one could quibble over which is the more prominent purpose, but there's no contradiction here. There is only an apparent contradiction because "out" seems to be opposed to "in."
APPARENT CONTRADICTION #2
P1 The fence was built to keep animals in
P2 The fence was built to keep animals out
On the surface, this is self-contradictory. But thetypes of animals haven't yet been articulated. The fence was actually built to keep certain types of animals in (e.g., sheep), and certain types of animals out (e.g., goats).
That's simple and logical enough, but this may blow your mind . . .
APPARENT CONTRADICTION #3
P1 The fence was built to keep sheep in the pen
P2 The fence was built to keep the same sheep out of the same pen
APPARENT CONTRADICTION #4
P1 The fence was built to keep sheep in the pen
P2 The fence was built to keep goats in the same pen
P3 Goats and sheep are always separated by the fence
All of the statements are entirely true. What hasn't been discussed up to this point is the chronologyinvolved. Each morning the sheep are led out to pasture through the south gate, while the goats are led into the pen by the north gate. Each afternoon, the animals go back to their original places again. Although these paradoxes always apply to the sheep and the goats, they do not apply to other animals, such as lions. The fence is only meant to keep lions out. Thus, we have worked through four apparent contradictions in a perfectly logical, coherent fashion, and have demonstrated conclusively that there is no actual contradiction in this scenario. But, without the help of some necessary details, there isapparent contradiction that cannot be avoided. In every case, the issue was not actual contradiction but missing information.
Imagine, if you will, that the farm on which our fence was built is private. It is located on a secluded island and carefully kept from public view. It is the only farm of its kind in the entire world. It was built from unique materials that have never been used anywhere else, and it utilizes farming techniques that are generally unknown to the world of agriculture. The farm is operated by a brilliant farmer with an IQ of 400. He writes a book to explain some things about his farm to the rest of the world. In the book, he mentions several times that the fence was built to keep animals in. However, in other parts of the book he says that the fence was built to keep animals out. The farmer never discusses the daily pasturing of the sheep and the goats. He never mentions the north and south gates. He never details the inner workings of his farm because that is not His purpose.
As a result, some skeptics point to the farmer's book and say "this is contradictory! Surely the farm doesn't exist. He says his fence is built to keep animals in, then he says his fence is built to keep animals out. It's obviously just a fairy tale." Meanwhile, the skeptics munch on some carrots that were grown in the farmer's garden.
Some agricultural students study the farmer's book very carefully. They diagram all of the sentences in the book, carefully noting the parts about keeping animals in. They build a fence around themselves and develop an elaborate theory to prove that the word "out" really means "in" when used in the farmer's context. Some of them throw rocks at people on the other side of the fence who say "out" and "in" are two opposite things that seem contradictory to rational people. They call these people irrational heretics and misologists.
A group of gardening enthusiasts who have met the farmer declare that he is brilliant. They use the farmer's book to develop vibrant gardens full of vegetable and livestock. They build fences carefully, leaving room for dual purposes. They defy the skeptics who claim the farmer's book is contradictory, and the agricultural experts who explain away the paradoxical aspects. These disciples readily acknowledge that the farmer's intelligence exceeds their own, noting that some of his ways are too hidden to examine, and they strive to follow his instructions even when the unrevealed information leaves them perplexed.
Can you see how paradoxes arise from mysteries? Unless one posits that human beings have access to all of the information, paradoxes cannot be ruled out. Even if all of the information was available to us, would we find the logic and rationality required to systematize and categorize it accurately? Only the omniscient God has enough knowledge and wisdom to put all of the pieces together, but the things He has revealed to us in His Word are fully sufficient for our needs, absolutely reliable, totally trustworthy and perfectly tailored to our greatest benefit and blessing. His words are not illogical or irrational, but they are sometimes supra-logical and beyond the rational limits of our human minds. He is good in what He graciously reveals to us, and He is good in what He withholds. He is always and only good, and He builds His fences in all the right places.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Is It Logical To Embrace Paradoxes?
What follows is a list of propositions, guidelines and principles which represent a balanced approach to theological paradox. These are the logical reasons for embracing paradox, standing in clear opposition to the assertions of those who exalt man's reasoning abilities beyond proper limits and at the same time minimize divine transcendence. These statements are an attempt to explain how a person can passionately and enthusiastically embrace Biblical paradoxes without in any way abandoning rationality, sound reasoning and common sense.
10 Affirmations of THEOparadox
1. God is perfectly logical, infinitely logical, and eternally logical.
In other words, contradiction and irrationality are not found in Him.
2. God's Word, The Bible, conforms perfectly to God's logic.
I am here affirming the logical coherence of Scripture.
3. Logic is the divinely authorized tool with which human beings must interpret Scripture.
Abandonment of logic is not an acceptable hermeneutic, for it would require the rejection of an essential and praiseworthy aspect of God's nature.
4. Human logic is an attempt to describe and explain divine truth.
Thus, as far as it goes, it is good and useful.
5. Human logic is imperfect, fallen and finite.
It is limited by our creaturehood and suffers from the effects of sin, so it inevitably falls short of its aim.
6. Human logic, no matter how mature or well developed, cannot correspond perfectly to divine truth.
This is nothing more than an affirmation of man's pervasive depravity and God's incomprehensibility. Man's logic is not always God's logic.
7. This lack of correspondence is not due to any irrationality on the part of God or the Bible. It is due entirely to man's creaturely status, his fallen nature and his stubborn dependence upon his own imperfect reason.
In other words, God is NOT the author of confusion. Rather, man is.
8. Where there is a lack of correspondence, there sometimes appears to be a contradiction of logic. This contradiction exists only in the mind of man and in the logic of man, not in God Himself, nor in His perfect Word.
In this I am affirming without equivocation that paradox, or apparent contradiction, is sometimes the furthest man can go in his attempts to explain divine truth. If a paradox cannot be resolved without removing essential aspects of divine revelation, the paradox is to be heartily embraced and affirmed in the face of all human logic - not because it is actually contradictory, but because human logic is insufficient.
9. Man's logic can correspond to divine truth only to the extent that God reveals both His truth and the way in which human logic corresponds to that truth.
To the extent that God describes what human logic cannot explain, there remains unsolvable mystery in man's knowledge.
10. God uses the paradoxes and mysteries which exist in man's mind as a tool for the furtherance of His purposes and the continuing revelation of His divine glory.
He is fully aware of our limitations, and accomplishes His will in His own way and by His own means - means which are comprehensive enough to involve mysteries and paradoxes resulting from the inherent imperfection in the logic of His children.
Let God's great glory be revealed, and man's fallen and finite mind be utterly humbled in consideration of these facts. Let man's pride be brought low as he realizes he is fallible, incapable and totally dependent on God's mercy.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
How Should We Respond to Biblical Paradoxes?
When faced with a logical paradox, there are several common responses:
1. Agnosticism/Skepticism - Simply throw up your hands declaring that nothing can truly be known and then go do whatever you like. Leads to a life of depravity and godlessness. This is not an option for Christians, since God has given us clear teaching and expects us to take it to heart.
2. Imbalance - Choose one side of the paradox and emphasize it until the other side is forgotten or overlooked. Leads to extreme dogmatism. This is not an option for Christians, since it requires us to ignore or explain away portions of God's Word.
3. Rationalism - Attempt to explain and solve the paradox by using complicated reasoning and relentless logic. Leads to pride (and possibly insanity!). This is not an option for Christians, since God opposes the proud.
4. Faith - Embrace both sides of the paradox. Accept that you are a finite being with a limited intellect. Believe that God has given both sides of the paradox for His glory and your good. Don't wait until you understand everything, but fall down adoring before the ONE Who does understand. Leads to humility and worship. This is the only real option for Christians who are faced with Biblical paradoxes.
This is not to say that we should never attempt to understand how things work or develop theories of how paradoxes might be solved. When approached humbly, such reasoning can be of great value. However, it is foolish for anyone to think he can FULLY explain the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, the virgin birth, or the relationship between God's sovereign election and human choice. These issues have been debated by great minds thoughout history - and they're still not fully explained.
Here's what we need to remember:
The moment we stop worshipping God, we begin to go off course. Do not trust the reasoning of your mind when you are not humbly aware of your finiteness and focused worshipfully on God's greatness. Come back to Him and be captivated by His wondrous grace again, then begin to think deeply. This is the safe course of theological reflection.
How Should We Interpret Biblical Paradoxes?
Let's lay out a few principles for dealing with the challenges of Biblical paradox:
1. When you find yourself confronted with two clear teachings in the Bible that seem to contradict one another, it's often helpful to view the two teachings as the extreme ends on a spectrum of truth. Settle it in your mind that you will affirm both because both are taught in God's Word. Whatever conclusions you draw from that point on must fall somewhere between the two ends. You cannot deny either of them.
2. Start from what's clear and work from there into what's not clear.
3. Prayerfully and carefully, study your Bible to find out if either side is emphasized more strongly or consistently than the other. Does the Bible resolve the conflict, or leave it unresolved?
4. Pay close attention to the ways in which the two teachings relate to one another in Scripture. For example, there is a paradox concerning faith and works, to the extent that some have said we are saved by faith AND works. But Scripture as a whole is very clear on this point. It teaches us that good works grow out of faith, that faith comes first and is the ground from which good works spring. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. Works are an evidence of this salvation, not the way to it. This approach upholds the balance of Scripture without denying any of the Biblical teaching on the subject.
5. Note what the Bible DOES NOT SAY about these truths. Be wary of thinking dogmatically in areas where God has not spoken. Biblical silence speaks loudly. Resolve not to go beyond what is written.
6. Weigh both sides and be diligent to keep them in balance. This will take time and prayerful study, but keep working at it. If you don't, you may end up believing and saying things about God that are just plain wrong.
Here's an illustration of the need for balance and the value of paradox:
"The element sodium is a silver-colored metal that reacts so violently with water that flames are produced when sodium gets wet. The element chlorine is a greenish-colored gas that is so poisonous that it was used as a weapon in World War I. When chemically bonded together, these two dangerous substances form the compound sodium chloride, a compound so safe that we eat it every day - common table salt!"
Thanks to visionlearning.com for this information.
We can think of Biblical truth in the same way. If we affirm that Jesus is only God and not man, we perpetuate a poisonous heresy. If we say He is only man, we betray the faith. But if we defy our own logic and believe what the Bible says - namely that He is the God-Man Who shares both complete humanity and complete divinity - we enjoy the salt of a balanced Biblical orthodoxy.
Is EVERYTHING a Paradox?
I want to make it clear that I'm not proposing EVERYTHING is paradoxical. There are many areas of clear truth in Scripture where paradox is not an option, and Scripture presents and reinforces one simple and obviously non-contradictory proposition. For example, the Bible clearly teaches that Christ is the only Savior from sin. The Bible says God created the world. The Bible says Jesus rose from the dead. There is no "other side" to these truths. They are clear, basic facts from the Bible. Nothing in Scripture calls us to balance them or hold them with any degree of tension. Quite the opposite - we are commanded to believe them with absolute confidence. There are 2 sides to every coin, but not all truth is coin-shaped.Some truth is one-sided and deserves to be treated that way. However, when some of the most important truths taught in the Bible are placed side by side, they can only be perceived by the human mind as paradoxical. THEOparadox is nothing more than a call to treat as paradox those things which cannot be adequately explained within the limits of human logic.
Dude . . . Are You Emergent?
Short Answer: NO, me genoito!
Medium Answer: I'm not anything like Emergent. But I strive to be more pro-Biblical than anti-Emergent. I don't think they're getting everything wrong, just the majority of the most important stuff.
Long Answer: see below . . .
Following the well-worn path taken by so many heretics of the past, the Emergent church has over-emphasized certain truths at the expense of others, even to the point of foolishly imagining that Truth itself is relatively irrelevant. Many conservative, Bible-believing Christians have rightly taken a stand against this absurdity. We have pointed out the errors of men like Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Rob Bell, to name a few. But are we ourselves in danger of over-emphasizing certain truths to the neglect of their balancing counterparts?
I recently asked Phil Johnson a few pointed questions about the mysteries and paradoxes of the Bible:
"Don't we have to admit . . . that there are some things revealed in the Bible which man's creaturely and fallen mind can't quite comprehend? That is to say, in at least some cases, the logic which reconciles two apparently contradictory truths is with God alone? Who's to say God has given us ALL of His logical tools? . . . can't there be aspects of logic that remain incomprehensible to us?"
"Yes, of course. But in light of what neo-orthodoxy and postmodernism have done with statements like those, it behooves us to be clearer than ever about what we affirm and what we deny regarding the inscrutability of God." (the rest of Phil's answer is here)
While I can appreciate this kind of caution, I want to be sure I don't surrender one drop of God's actual incomprehensibility, one finely braided strand of real paradox, or one iota of genuine mystery, by way of over reaction.
There is a real danger that our response to postmodern heresy might result in the loss of precious theology and a repeat of the tragic mistakes made by the rigid fundamentalism which stood as a reaction to the rampant liberalism of the early 20th century. If we really believe Truth is absolute, shouldn't we be striving for the pure balance of that Truth, rather than reacting against heterodox fallacies? Shouldn't theology be based more on the Word of God than on our zeal to quash the errors of heretics? The Word of God by itself, taken in balance and taught with conviction, will effectively destroy heresy.
That's why Paul, after writing one of the New Testament's most soteriologically comprehensive and Gospel-saturated passages, penned these words:
Titus 3:8-9 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want youto speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will becareful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitablefor men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
It's essential that we reiterate and properly define not only the central truths of the Gospel, but also the more delicate theological concepts that have been co-opted by the Emergents - the garnishes, if you will - and refuse to allow them to rob us of anything God has revealed about Himself. Rather than running from the concepts they over-emphasize, we should demolish their false ideas by recovering orthodox, Biblical perspectives on those very issues, and serve them up with the steam still rising from the plate.
Many of us are rightly affirming the absolute nature of Truth, the validity of logic, the meaningful use of language and the certainty we can have. That's good. But the balances to these important realities must also be affirmed, or we may find that we have rolled up one side of the hill and then down the other side. Consider the following Biblical concepts which have been accepted by orthodox theologians throughout the centuries . . .
1. Divine Incomprehensibility - God is knowable only as far as He as revealed Himself, and He is immensely infinite beyond our imagination. The unrevealed aspects are consistent with the revealed, because God is eternally consistent with Himself. So, we can KNOW GOD and KNOW ABOUT Him, but not comprehensively. 2. Mystery - The unrevealed aspects of God's ways are unknowable apart from revelation and leave us with unanswered (and unanswerable) questions. These questions do not NEED to be answered, or God would have answered them. We do still believe in the virgin birth, correct? 3. Paradox (or what some insist on calling "antinomy" - thank you, Dr. Packer) - At whatever point the Bible appears undeniably to teach two or more opposing propositions, we must accept all of them entirely, even in cases where no mortal has ever succeeded in reconciling them. Especially in those cases. Scripture teaches us that Christ is fully human, and it also teaches us that Christ is fully divine. Is this not an apparent contradiction which we must nonetheless embrace? We must view even the most apparently irreconcilable contradictions as resolvable using information contained within the realm of genuine mystery. Hence, nothing can be paradoxical to God, Who is omniscient. If we had sufficient information, we would have no paradoxes. 4. The Necessity and Limitation of Logic - Logic is the God-ordained ground of communication between God and human beings, and the format by which He conveys propositions. In God, logic is perfect and infinite. In man, it is marred and error prone. Truth is coherent, but we're not coherent enough to fully receive it. Rather than making logic invalid, these facts call us to ground more certainty in revelation than in our logic, and more faith in God's Word than in our own thoughts, and to stake our very lives on His Word.
The Emergents confuse incomprehensibility with agnosticism, while they make mystery into an excuse for doubting divinely revealed propositions, and they pervert paradox by denying the very ground on which it is created: an a priori commitment to absolute, logically consistent Truth. Their doubting is not any kind of "epistemological humility"- it's intellectual (and spiritual) suicide. Finally, Emergents repudiate logic while simultaneously angling the conclusions of their own humanistic reason against the Scriptures. It's an epistemological potluck on the village green, complete with half-baked chicken, stale heresy-crackers and the moldy rolls of relativism. I've also heard the salad isn't too fresh.
Theological problems are only one side of the threat posed by the Emerging Church. The other is a matter of lifestyle. Emergents are more winsome than we are, less rigid, less prone to legalism, better at speaking the language of people in today's Western culture, less likely to be mired in man-made religious traditions, and they're probably more active in works of mercy and acts of kindness than most traditional Evangelicals. Heresy with a sense of charity is always more attractive than a frosty-frozen orthodoxy which portrays itself as eminently righteous - and righteously indifferent. If we're not living the Christian life, we're partly responsible for the success of liberalism.
Titus 3:14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Ultimately, however, the emergence and success of postmodern philosophy is part of a horrific judgment which God has unleashed, as He gives a sinful world over to its own cravings and allows it to suppress the priceless Truth in unrighteousness. As this progresses, let us not be outdone when it comes to practicing the New Testament ethics of compassion, grace, generosity and good works. And let us not be outmaneuvered in the battle for a Biblically faithful, balanced epistemology that is glorious enough to include difficult paradoxes, unanswered questions, and a God big enough to be mysterious - and infinitely greater in wisdom than His most ingenious creatures. In short, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Friends, I plead with you not to surrender one tiny inch of ground to the Emerging church, theologically or morally. Let's love God and neighbor, glory in His mysterious mercy, and prove by our example that the Gospel is true!
Titus 3:3-7 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived,enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in maliceand envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done inrighteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing ofregeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.