Paradoxes, Relative Christianity, and 2 Timothy 1:13


Paradox  –  a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true (New Oxford American Dictionary)

Many professing Christians have embraced what I call Relative Christianity. Relative in the sense that they hold to a “relative truth” idea of Scripture. The common phrase that goes with this is “that’s just your interpretation”. This seems to be done due to paradoxes that are found in Scripture. Add to this that most people in America really don’t know how to think through seemingly difficult problems. An example of one of these Scriptural paradoxes is John 3:16 & 2 Peter 3:9 compared to Romans 9:13-16.

John 3:16 (KJV): For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2 Peter 3:9 (KJV): The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

Romans 9:13-16 (KJV): As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

These passages are difficult because at first glance it seems that God is telling us first that He loves the world and isn’t willing that any perish. However, God has in His providence provided us modern Christians with means through which we can learn how to study His Word and thus gain a better understanding of His Word and ways. The Westminster Divines are exceedingly helpful in this regard. In the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1 paragraph 9, they said this on studying Scripture; “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” So when we approach difficult passages with this mindset, I believe many of those paradoxes, those seemingly contradictory passages will become easier to understand. Example, one question that helps to resolve the paradox found in the above passages is to ask; Who is the “all” that these Scriptures speak of? John 6:37-39 tells us, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”  According to this passage the “all” isn’t meaning every single person in the world, but rather those whom the Father has given to the Son.

God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). To say that God is the Author of Scripture and that Scripture teaches doctrines that are opposite of each other goes against the law of non-contradiction (and is calling God a liar). This is why I am so strong on what I believe. This is why I do not accept teachings that are contrary to Scripture. I have told my family many times that I would change my beliefs only if I was proven to have a wrong understanding of what Scripture teaches. I am dogmatic about what I believe because the Holy Spirit has commanded us to be so; “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Tim. 1:13

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