what i've learned along the way
I love Rob Bell!
Published on June 12, 2006 By lobsterhunter In Misc
My, oh so wonderful, Bible study leader, Bruce Grinstead graciously allowed me to begin reading his copy of Velvet Elvis the other night. I was enthralled with what Rob Bell had to say in the introduction, so I checked his book out at the library today. This afternoon I read a statement that ushered in a huge sense of freedom. Perhaps it won't hit you in the same way it challenged me, but I figured it was worth sharing. Bring on the questions!

"It's not so much that the Christian faith has a lot of paradoxes. It's that it is a lot of paradoxes. And we cannot resolve a paradox. We have to let it be what it is."

*** Note about the title: Mr. Mars Hill compares faith to jumping on a trampoline. It's flexible, joyful, and constantly being stretched.

on Jun 12, 2006
Now I'm excited about the rest of the book. Not fair that you've got so much of a jump on me! I started it first.

on Jun 12, 2006
"It's not so much that the Christian faith has a lot of paradoxes. It's that it is a lot of paradoxes. And we cannot resolve a paradox. We have to let it be what it is."

Not having read the book and not being able to look at the statement in context, I am be viewing this differently than it was intended. Also, I hope you won't take this the wrong way. I know how I usually feel when I find something liberating and then someone points out why he thinks it is wrong. I think this statement presents some major problems. To say that the Christian faith is a lot of paradoxes is to say that there is nothing about he Christian faith that is not a paradox. Suppose we take the "simple" statement "God is Love" as an example. If the Christian faith is a bunch of paradoxes then there must some attribute of God that completely contradicts the fact that "God is Love." Is it the fact that God is Holy that contradicts this? Some would make the claim that since God has promised eternal punishment for those who reject him there is a contradiction. But God sent his only begotten Son to die for our sins. There is not contradiction, so there is no paradox.

Even to say that the Christian faith has a lot of paradoxes is to take a lazy approach to Bible study. It makes it very easy for a person to believe whatever he wants. He reads through the Bible and finds something that contradicts what he thinks the Bible is saying in another location and rather than trying to harmonize the scripture he simply says, "here is another paradox and we cannot resolve a paradox." The older I get the more I see that most of the things I once thought were paradoxes have been resolved by a better understanding of the problem. When I find what appears to be a paradox I try to remember to take James 1:5 to heart, which says "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. "

Perhaps you see something about the statement that I don't, but I have a hard time believing anyone will be able to show chapter and verse of the Bible that even implies that the Christian faith is a paradox.
on Jun 12, 2006
I hope you won't take this the wrong way

Just out of curiosity, is this Jennifer, Trin's friend from Cinncinati? I've never really been sure about your anonymous identity. You are more than welcome to challenge the above statement. As a matter of fact, that is what Rob Bells book is actually about. I understand your point of view, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
on Jun 13, 2006
I like what ABass has to say, but I don't think Rob was talking about God and Jesus and the Bible being a paradox (and I haven't read that far in the book so I don't know the context either), but I see the statement talking about the Christian FAITH, our belief system. Jesus told us to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and body. And to love others as ourselves. Those, for Jesus, were the two greatest commandments. It sounds simple enough, but man has taken those commands and made them very complex, giving us as believers all kinds of way in which we must love God and love man (and what it means to for us to love God and man). If the Christian FAITH wasn't a paradox, then why do we have so many denominations and different kinds of churches? Not because of God, but because of man. One of our paradoxes lies in us seperating the "sin" from "the sinner." Seeing people as people loved of God, not people who deserve hell. Wikipedia had this to say about paradox: "The word paradox is often used interchangeably and wrongly with contradiction; but where a contradiction by definition cannot be true, many paradoxes do allow for resolution, though many remain unresolved or only contentiously resolved." For Christ Followers, there isn't a contradiction between God's love and God's justice, but there is a paradox (for us, not for Him). Thanks ABass, and T, for making me think through this. Look forward to more.

on Jun 18, 2006
nope I'm not Abass.

As far as paradoxes I think there are lots of stuff about God our little human brains cannot comprehend. There are definitely scriptures that make it clear that God chooses us and sets us apart before birth. There are also definitley scriptures about having the free will to make the choice. That sounds like a paradox but somehow the God who is far beyond our understanding works it out. I don't understand how people can take such a black and white stance on these issues when there are scriptures that support both. We're not meant to understand it all. I'm so grateful that I don't have a God I can fully understand and put in a box. He has to be so much more than that....and He is.