Sunday, February 4, 2007

Paradox and ambiguity

There are real contradictions and contradictions that are only apparent. The latter are probably inevitable when believers attempt to reconcile the revelations of the God who exists, since our understanding is limited to our experience. Is it possible that many of the theological controversies that engage us will turn out to have been based on only apparent contradictions? Some doctrinal issues are vitally important and central to the Faith - others can wait until we can see more clearly.

S.M. Hutchens:
I gave the last word in my dissertation to G.K. Chesterton. Part of the borrowed inscription was: "The ordinary man...has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them." I have always believed this; one cannot believe the Bible otherwise, nor can he be a Christian, for our faith is built upon the ultimate contradiction: the God-Man, and many others besides. But churches and theological schools, as John Williamson Nevin observed long ago, are not founded or maintained by ordinary men, but by Great Ones, who make their ways and their names in the world by emphasizing one truth at the expense of others, enthralling lesser men by giving them many infallible proofs that the truth upon which they stand apart from others is indubitably true.

.... How many oceans of ink have been spilled, how many shelves have been filled, how many sects and parties have taken their rise, how many reputations for deep scholarship and wisdom have been made among the intelligent and ambitious, because they have taken extra-ordinary measures to avoid taking two truths from the Holy Tradition that seem to contradict each other, and the contradiction along with them - avoiding the Mystery, the doxology, and most particularly, the fear of God that comes when we step into the realm where we no longer have the mastery of him?
Source: Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments

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