‘A Lesson of Both’

Terry Walton


I find the following thoughts from Phillip Yancey in his book Grace Notes insightful.  Perhaps you will as well.
“As Andrew Greeley said, “If one wishes to eliminate uncertainty, tension, confusion and disorder from one’s life, there is no point in getting mixed up either with Yahweh or with Jesus of Nazareth.” I grew up expecting that a relationship with God would bring order and a calm rationality to life. Instead, I have discovered that living in faith involves much dynamic tension. Throughout church history, Christian leaders have shown an impulse to pin everything down, to reduce behavior and doctrine to absolutes that could be answered on a true-false test.
Significantly, I do not find this tendency in the Bible. I find instead the mystery and uncertainty that characterize any relationship, especially a relationship between a perfect God and fallible human beings. In a phrase that became the cornerstone of his theology, G. K. Chesterton said, “Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.” Most heresies come from espousing one opposite at the expense of the other. A church uncomfortable with paradox tends to tilt in one direction or the other, usually with disastrous consequences.
Read the theologians of the first few centuries as they try to fathom Jesus, the center of our faith, who was somehow fully God and fully man. Read the theologians of the Reformation as they discover the majestic implications of God’s sovereignty, then strive to keep their followers from settling into a resigned fatalism.
The first shall be last; find your life by losing it; no achievement matters apart from love; work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you; God’s kingdom has come but not fully; enter the kingdom of heaven like a child; he who serves is greatest; measure self-worth not by what others think of you but by what you think of them; where sin abounds grace abounds more; we are saved by faith alone but faith without works is dead—all these profound principles of life appear in the New Testament, and none easily reduces to logical consistency.
“Truth is not in the middle, and not in one extreme, but in both extremes,” the British pastor Charles Simeon remarked.” (pp. 234-235)


comments powered by Disqus