Believe Both

Believe Both

I like the bible. I like that almost each time I read it I am amazed at how precisely the author has captured the truth and complexity of being human. I like the counsel, wisdom, scenes of glory and insight into knowing God. I love the winsomeness of Jesus. But mostly, I am comforted that my humanity is fully known and therefore can be fully redeemed.

I have recently come to love the Bible in a new way because I no longer worry about how to synthesize the stories. In fact, I don’t the think the Bible makes sense in the normal way a book might make sense. A novel will raise a paradox, but will in the end give the satisfaction of resolving that paradox. The dilemma’s found in scripture seldom transcend the opening line- “in the beginning God…” and do not bring a resolution to seemingly contrary portrayals of God.

So as inconsistent as I may be, when confronted with what appears to be opposing and irreconcilable truths-

I believe both.

God answers prayer in miraculous and spectacular ways

Some people linger in darkness, pain and death while crying out for God

 Job survived the test of God, and was blessed with 10 times what he had before

Job’s family was wiped out as part of this test, kind of sucked to be Job’s kid

 God knows everything

God is surprised when I ignore him

 Grace has released me from having to try harder

Healing has come as I worked the 12 steps

 I am a glorious, beautiful child of God

I am petty, small and jealous

 God is powerful and present

God is absent

 God chooses

People choose

 Church is at it’s best when it is organic, spontaneous, and slightly chaotic

Church functions well when it has order

 Perhaps you have heard stories of grieving parents being told, “don’t cry, your baby is in heaven”. Or a newly divorced dad being reminded “all things work together for good”. I have yet to hear a single woman wanting to marry and have a family that felt better being told Jesus would be her husband. In fact, almost any scripture in a moment of crisis might cause more harm than good.

But aren’t these scriptures true? Yes, I believe them to be completely true.

But I also believe that horrible moments and grave injustices are unexplainable and even inconsolable. I believe that God is powerful and God either withholds His power or is unable to do some things. I believe God is pure love, and I believe at times I experience a God who seems cold, even callous.

My conclusion to centuries of theological debate:

heresy occurs when we are certain we can make it all make sense.

My remedy- believe both.


This entry was posted in Christian Culture, New Models and Paradigms, The Refuge, Thoughts on Scriptures. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Believe Both

  1. Yes! What a beautiful invitation (and a bit scary too) to trust a wild, mysterious and good God! This reminder comes at such an appropriate time too! When our entire country has drawn dividing lines and we are entrenched again in extremes. Thank you Karl for your prophetic voice.

  2. Thanks, Karl. Sometimes the judge in our case appears callous. I do not trust him, and when his name comes up, vote for his retention of office. On the other hand, sometimes I think he is being exceptionally hard on us so that we will read the law and learn about keeping the rights we say we want him to enforce, and so that he can enter a judgment on our behalf that is not appeal able by our opponents. I hate him and fear him, and yet I’ve been forced to grow up because of him. And, though I don’t trust him, I am forced to rest my case with him and trust God. It’s interesting to me that in Joseph’s case with his brothers selling him into slavery, that he finally is able to forgive them saying, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” No wonder Joseph threw out all the court parties to weep in the angst of his personal experiences. A body can barely survive it, much less forgive it. I have to look at all of life’s circumstances that way now. Are things only good because they make sense or because they are rewarding to us, or is there an inherent good that happens regardless of how it makes sense or how they terrorize us? Do we allow events to cripple us, and embitter us to God, or do we use them to grow up and survive on a deeper level than ever before. On the other hand, I have become a hermit. This is because I am human and I am not coping well. I am being destroyed daily. I believe both.

    • karlw says:

      dear sweet sister, i cannot imagine the endurance it must take to simple sit up in bed in the morning. I agree with you, as hard as it seems, that holding fast to the goodness of God in spite of what seems to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary. of course, people remember twice as many bad events as good.
      you are always encouraging while remaining truthful, something few can do.

  3. Vicki says:

    Karl, I love the way you’ve captured the paradox of scripture. Beautiful.

  4. Lori Ventola says:

    Beautiful and HELPFUL. I’ll hold this in my heart when I read the Bible now.

  5. Davida says:

    So good! I really enjoyed your list of paradoxes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Also, ps, you’re right about the single woman who gets “lovingly” reminded that Jesus is her husband and how happy she should be about that by someone as they hold their third child and are looking across the room at their loving spouse of 13 years…she doesn’t recieve comfort from those words…she mostly wants to punch those people in the face.

    • karlw says:

      I believe the implication that women can have an intimacy with Jesus that a man cannot is so destructive.
      i remember even as an adult the warmth of kissing my dad, or when my adult son or daughter offers me that gift. i guarantee i am anxious to be cuddled, held, cooed by Jesus, the homophobes be damned!

  6. Karla says:

    I am reminded of when I first started going to the refuge. I cannot remember exactly what you said, but it was something to the effect that the inconsistencies and contradictions in the bible didn’t matter, that you could live with that. … it gave me a peace and let me let go and accept that being at the refuge was right for me.

    Tried to come last night. A train forbade me 😦 … set at the light for a long time as the train passed. Suddenly the train stopped, blocking the intersection. Waited some more. Finally tried to go the other way, but the train had blocked it too. So, decided to let go and give up. There is always next week 🙂

  7. Joanna Harrison says:

    Love this! It is so freeing to believe both and hold that tension in a dynamic way. It is hard to let go of feeling like I have to know the right answer in each situation but I’m getting better at it.

  8. karlw says:

    you may have different meaning, but as best i can i have given up the fight. i am not 100% consistent, but for the most part i have stopped trying to convince people. i dont think giving up is such a bad thing.

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