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thoughts on scripture: how do we read the scriptures?


It is the wedding of two that don’t quite fit together. The sovereignty of God / human freedom. The goodness of God / Aushwitz. The complete otherness of God / the nearness of God. The cross.

How do we make sense of these paradoxes? How do reconcile their differences? May I suggest that we don’t. We put such a high priority on understanding everything, but sometimes we are called to live in the mystery. Is this a philosophical cop-out? No, because reality itself does not make sense. How often are we faced with ethical dilemmas where the voices do not match up. Say you are living in Germany under the National Socialist Party (the Nazis). Because of the Christian ideal of compassion you are moved to hide your Jewish neighbors in your attic. Then the Nazi party becomes suspicious of your family. So they come to your house for an inspection, and they ask you, “Are you housing any Jews?” Now the voice of compassion tells you to lie, and the voice of the Ten Commandments tells you to not lie.

Now say you work at a restaurant that serves tomatoes. But the only tomatoes that you are authorized to sell in your franchisee are tomatoes that have been harvested by employees that are so overworked and under-payed that it resembles slavery. The voice of justice will tell you that you can not continue working there and thus support labor exploitation. But the voice of your family will tell you that you need to continue working to put food on the table.

Abraham, the father of faith, lies about his marital status and lets his wife sleep with the king. David, a man after God’s own heart, sees a pretty lady and has her husband killed so he can sleep with her.

Abraham receives a son from God, and then is asked by that same God to kill his son.

These are the paradoxes of life, and the paradoxes in Scripture.

The challenge is not to find a reconciliation, or a balance. The challenge is to live in the paradox, and as Kierkegaard has said, to leap into the absurd.


About david b. clark

a husband and father || a student of philosophy, theology, history, literature, music, art, computer science


2 thoughts on “thoughts on scripture: how do we read the scriptures?

  1. Good one. It brings to mind the compelling reason for Chesterton’s acceptance of Christianity – that where the world made sense, Christianity could account for it; that where the world was absurd, Christianity could account for that as well.

    Btw, ‘challenge’ is an understatement!

    Posted by Rustin | 14 January, 2008, 1:27 pm
  2. my sources are revealed. i did have to read that chapter out of chesterton’s orthodoxy to help solidify my thoughts.

    Posted by david clark | 14 January, 2008, 1:55 pm

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