Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Living in Paradox

If you've got a sec, please, please read this post by Doug Wilson:  Our Doctrinal and Liturgical Bramble Bushes.  This is a great short piece that I believe really touches a lot of what I've been meditating on over the last few months in regards to the question of how then shall we live in light of God's Word?  We've also been looking at this same issue as we've been going through Romans in our campus Bible Study. 

Many of us as humans hate paradox.  The questions of God's sovereignty and human will swirl through our heads and which truly exists in this world.  We can reason "If God is sovereign then we are just robots," or "If we are free then God is not totally sovereign."  Our minds hate paradoxes I think largely because we want concrete, tangible and logical answers, yet a paradox is not something that our minds can fit around.  We don't have a category for it, so we relegate these questions to either/or issues.  We make one exist in our worldview at the expense of the other. 

However if God has truly spoken in His Word, and if His Word is united in speaking truth, then we must go with what He says in His Word.  The Scriptures clearly affirm both God's total and complete sovereignty over all of creation and that humans are not automatons but living and breathing creatures with wills and moral responsibility for our actions.

The other great dichotomy that  we see in Romans is grace/faith and works.  Paul clearly calls us to trust in the grace that we have in Christ for our salvation, but also in much of the book of Romans he clearly calls the readers to act out of that faith (or what one could describe as works).  They land together in chapter 8:13 "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. "  (ESV)  Which is it then?  Does the Spirit work in us (a grace) or do we put to death the deeds of the body (work)?  Clearly it's both, not either/or. 

I will put a plug out there for John Owen's "On the Mortification of Sin in Believers" as we wrestle with this text.  Yet for an answer here I would put forward that we can work to put to death these deeds because the Spirit is working in us to put to death these deeds in us and the Spirit is working through our work too.  Heady stuff huh?  

But back to Douglas Wilson's piece too.  These debates and questions shouldn't simply end in the discussion about the philosophy themselves, but rather true and radical understanding of grace should lead to works in our lives.  Go read his piece, he says it better and is a better writer than me.  Grace should transform us in ways that are mindblowing as we walk this life of paradox between antinomianism and works, living in the tension of a world that is too great for us to fathom this side of eternity. 

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