Drinking Deeply

Saturday, September 10, 2005 at 10:28 PM

Logic and Faith (2)

This leads us to a necessary point: Scripture is still above human reason. Nor is reason above Scripture. If we place reason above Scripture then we can do something like, "contradicts in Scripture, therefore Scripture is wrong. Rather it should be, " seems to contradict in Scripture, therefore my interpretation of one, or both of those statements is wrong."

Yet, at the same time, we cannot state that Scripture teaches contradictions, for if two statements are contradictions at one point, why not another two statements? Who is to say that the contradiction is between those two statements and not at the point of justification by faith alone? Of course, we as humans will never completely understand God's Word, and so because of our sin, we will most likely run into a lot of statements that seem like contradictions. But know that these contradictions are only in your head, and you as a God loving Christian are called to be one in mind with God. Thus we are to work out these contradictions so that they are not contradictions anymore. As long as they're still contradictions, we cannot affirm both of them, because to do so would be to affirm a nothing. If I believe A contradicts B, I cannot say that I believe both A and B. Sometimes I believe A, sometimes I believe B, but I cannot believe both at the same time. To say that I do would be intellectually dishonest.

A good example of an "apparent" contradiction is the idea of God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Many (almost all) people will affirm that God is sovereign. They will also state that to them, God's sovereignty over all means that man does not have free will. They also state that Scripture also teaches that humans are responsible for their actions. These two ideas are incompatible in their minds. This means that their understanding of the two terms is wrong, because otherwise if a logical contradiction could exist in Scripture, then why not at the point of justification by faith alone? Why can't people be justified by faith alone and by faith and works? Why can't Jesus be the only way, and Mohammed be another way? To accept contradictions like this within our worldview is just being irrational.

Instead, the solution to the "apparent contradiction" here is to throw out the idea that human responsibility requires "free will." Apart from the impossibility to define the term free will, the whole idea of free will is rejected by God's sovereignty. We are held responsible because God chooses to hold us responsible. We are held responsible because God is judge.

Take an example. I could hold my little brother, who is 18, responsible for his spilling the glass of milk on the table. I could punish him by making him clean it up. Maybe he was surprised by me walking in, or maybe something caused him to slip a little bit. But the argument "I didn't have free will" is no reason for me to not hold him responsible. He did it. That's that. I hold him responsible because I was given the authority (by my parents) to keep order in the house, because it would be just for him to clean it up, so on and so forth.

Of course, the analogy breaks down. My brother can appeal to a higher authority (mom). My brother can refuse his punishment. He can claim that I was injust. None of these apply to God. With God, who is the ultimate authority and just by nature, we cannot appeal to a higher authority, nor can we claim that God is being injust (as the man in Romans 9 tries to do). God is also omnipotent, so we cannot avoid our punishment. He is omniscient, so we cannot hide what we did. We will be judged because God has decreed that we will be judged. No ifs, ands, buts, or ors.

Thus when we cast away this foreign notion of free will, we are left with two statements that are not contradictory in the least. God is sovereign over everything. God holds humans responsible.

That was a long digression, but returning to the point. When we see what we think are contradictions in Scripture, they are not contradictions in Scripture. They are contradictions in us. When we see contradictions we are to work them out and take them captive for Christ, so that we may be of one mind with God. If to God they are not contradictions, does it not follow that to us they are not to be contradictions? To say that God has left us with contradictions is to insult God and dishonor His name. Rather, we are left with contradictions because of our sinful natures. Remember though, that because sin can never be wiped away on this side of glory, we cannot hope to extinguish all the mysteries of Scripture. We cannot hope to have a complete understanding, but at the same time we are to strive for it, with fear and trembling. Life depends upon Scripture, we cannot hope to go into life with a blunted sword.

So let us call upon God the Father and ask for faith. Ask for a clarity of mind to grasp how wide, deep, and long, His love is. Let us confess that "we believe, help us with our disbelief" for we desperately need to be men and women that glorify God. Let us seek Him with all our minds, knowing all the while and confessing all the while that in order for us to do so He must seek us first. Let us see the bold truths of Scripture and faithfully proclaim them from the highest of rooftops and the peaks of mountains. Let us ask Him for wisdom and logic, for discernment and application of the precious truths that are contained with Scripture. Let us pray with the Psalmist as he prays "
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."

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