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Monday, September 11 2006

"Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed.  That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity.  It is a religion you could not have guessed.  If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up.  But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up.  It has just that queer twist about it that real things have." Mere Christianity

Christianity has a number of doctrines which are suprising and not completely comprehensible.  For example, Christianity teaches that God is three-in-one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one God.  How can God be three persons, yet one being?

Here's another queer teaching: God became human in Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus is fully God and fully human.  He contains two natures in one person without confusion, change, division or separation.  I get confused just thinking about it sometimes!

Furthermore, Christianity teaches that God "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (Ephesians 1:11), yet human beings have free will.  Some of the greatest minds down through history have tried to puzzle out that one without a fully successful resolution.

The fact that Christianity teaches such puzzles which are beyond human comprehension certainly does suggest that her doctrines are not made up.  But in the mean time, what do we do with them?  What do we do with the seeming antinomies of three persons in one God, two natures in one person, sovereignty of God and human free will? 

Regarding the handling of the last antinomy Lewis had some good advice in a letter to a correspondent written on 3 August 1953:

No one can make these two views consistent.  Of course reality must be self-consistent: but till (if ever) we can see the consistency it is better to hold two inconsistent views than to ignore one side of the evidence.

The history of Christianity is littered with heresies which ignored one side of the evidence.  Some people ignored God's oneness in favor of God's threeness, and vice versa.  Others emphasized Jesus' divinity over his humanity, while others did just the opposite.  Still others emphasized God's sovereignty while ignoring human freedom and others touted freedom while forgetting God's omnipotence.

I'm with Lewis, until I stand before God and God explains it all--if he ever does--I am going to hold two inconsistent views rather than ignore one side of the evidence.  It is sort of like what a bell-ringer must do.  The bell-ringer in a church can't see where the two ropes join to the bell in the tower, but when he or she pulls on both ropes, first one and then the other, people can hear the bell ring.  I am going to hold on to both bell ropes (three and one, human and divine, God's sovereignty and human freedom), even though I can't see where the two ropes join with the bell in the tower.  Until I get up into the "tower" one day, I'm just going to keep ringing that bell: "I believe in one God, the Father almighty . . ." and I'm going to keep praying, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24).

Posted by: Will Vaus AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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