Caught Between Truth: The Central Paradoxes of Christian Faith.

       I am reading the above titled book by Barry L Callen for my Theology class.  I am only in the middle of the second chapter and am blown away by how much depth is brought to light.  It begins in the preface with pointing out the dangers that the church today is in.  The church, at least here in the West is struggling to find its prophetic voice and is on the verge of paralysis by trying to cater to a post-modern, drive through style way of Christianity. It seems today, that, while acknowledging the importance of being relevant, there is a great mystery, coupled with our Bibles, full of paradoxes that many do not want to easily accept.  It is the age-old problem, or tug of war between faith and reason, between mystery and science.  The one thing I have been reminded of over and over again is that paradox and mystery have to be accepted as a part of our Christian faith.  There are always going to be unanswered and misunderstood truths about God for the very reason that God is a mystery.  Paradoxical? Absolutely.  The quicker we are to accept the truth of mystery in our faith, the better off we are going to be, because we will finally be able to give faith a chance to be faith itself.  Faith is always in order and humility is always required.  So many times people want a simple “yes or no” answer, but the truth lines in “yes and no”.  It is both, and it is a large part faith and the mysteries of God that our human minds cannot fully grasp.  We need to have knowledge, to think on God, to seek to understand who he is, but we must accept that we will never fully grasp some of the deeper truths our minds desperately seek and long to have answers to. Callen states that in the pursuit of knowledge and truth we often lack the authentic transformation that God longs to do within in each one of us (my paraphrase).  This is so true, and one of my on-going rants that I have harbored on my other blog  many a time.  Nothing has broken my heart more than seeing the lack of transformation in the lives of a Christian.  It’s the same as the old cliché’s “actions speak louder than words”, or “people don’t care about how much you know until they see how much you care”.  Being transformed from the inside out by a living and relational God is what the world wants to see.  (I digress, but it’s an essential point).  The Bible is full of paradoxes, and Christians, in seeking to understand and be transformed by the truth have got to come to terms with this.  We can all sit here till next week and argue the Bible, but we need to take a step back and look at the larger story that God is trying to engage us in, only then will transformation happen. Let me just leave you with a few quotes to chew on:

“There is no alternative.  Ambiguity, paradox, and mystery and inevitable for those seriously pursuing wisdom in a distinctly Christian context”

“When Christians simplify the theological content of their faith to that which they fully understand and control, they are living more in their own reality than in God’s.”

“The Christian task is not to provide easy answers to every perplexing question; it is to make us ever more aware of a gracious and wonderful mystery, the mystery of God. Rather than an object of our knowledge, God should be the cause of our wonder (Ps. 8:1).”

“Christians today must be able and willing to orchestrate the paradoxes of human experience and divine revelation into a full gospel that really is the truth.”

“The call to Christian believers is to embrace “ignorance”, realizing that the human‘s lot of not knowing anything for sure enables the knowing of everything by faith.  Here, in the great humility lies wisdom.  The ultimate in life is not a math problem to be solved.  It is standing in awe, unsure,  yet very sure, thinking of words like” amazing grace”, pondering in unknowing and still rejoicing in the fullness of catching a glimpse of God who is known in Jesus Christ.”

“Interpretation of the Bible is often a delicate and disputed business.  A little humility is a good thing.”

“Loyalty to tradition means not primarily the acceptance of formulae or customs from past generations, but rather the ever-new, personal, and direct experience of the Holy Spirit in the present, here and now.” (Bishop Kallistos).  Thus, the Christian life, beyond being a set pattern of believing, is to be a way of life and a way of prayer.

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