Search Bible
Click for Help   Click for QuickNav   Click for Advanced Search Options
Search KJV
KJVNKJVNLTNIVESVCSBNASB
Version Selector Up Arrow NETRSVASVYLTDBYWEBHNV
RVR60VULWLCLXXmGNTTR  

Search a pre-defined list


OR Select a range of biblical books

From:

To:


OR Custom Selection:

Use semicolons to separate groups:
'Gen;Jdg;Psa-Mal' or 'Rom 3-12;Mat 1:15;Mat 5:12-22'

Your Bible Version is the KJV
Go to Top
Link to This PageCite This Page
Version Selector Up Arrow
Share this pageFollow the BLB
Version Selector Up Arrow

Follow the Blue Letter Bible on:

facebooktwitter

pinterestgoogle+


Or subscribe to our Newsletter:

Printable Page
 
 
Left Contextbar EdgeLeft Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge2Prior SectionReturn to CommentariesReturn to Author BiographyNext SectionRight Contextbar Edge2Right Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge1
The Blue Letter Bible
BLB Searches
Search the Bible
Search KJV
KJVNKJVNLTNIVESVCSBNASB
Version Selector Up Arrow NETRSVASVYLTDBYWEBHNV
RVR60VULWLCLXXmGNTTR  
 [?]

Advanced Options

Search a pre-defined list


OR Select a range of biblical books

From:

To:


OR Custom Selection:

Use semicolons to separate groups: 'Gen;Jdg;Psa-Mal' or 'Rom 3-12;Mat 1:15;Mat 5:12-22'

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval
x
Search KJV
KJVNKJVNLTNIVESVCSBNASB
Version Selector Up Arrow NETRSVASVYLTDBYWEBHNV
RVR60VULWLCLXXmGNTTR  

Line-By-Line Order:
Line-By-Line Verse-ReferenceVerse-Reference
Line-By-Line Reference-VerseReference-Verse
Line-By-Line Separate LineSeparate Line
Line-By-Line Verse OnlyVerse Only
Line-By-Line Reference OnlyReference Only
Reference Delimiters:
No Reference DelimitersNone — Jhn 1:1 KJV
Square Reference DelimitersSquare — [Jhn 1:1 KJV]
Curly Reference DelimitersCurly — {Jhn 1:1 KJV}
Parenthesis Reference DelimitersParens — (Jhn 1:1 KJV)
Paragraph Order:
Paragraph Verse-ReferenceVerse-Reference
Paragraph Reference-VerseReference-Verse
Paragraph Reference-OnlyReference-Only
Number Delimiters:*
No Verse NumbersNo Number
No Verse DelimetersNo Delimiter — 15
Square Verse DelimitersSquare — [15]
Curly Verse DelimitersCurly — {15}
Parenthesis Verse DelimitersParens — (15)
Other Options:
Abbreviate BooksAbbreviate Books
Use SBL Abbrev.Use SBL Abbrev.
En dash not HyphenEn dash not Hyphen
 
Quotes Around VersesQuotes Around Verses
Remove Square BracketsRemove Square Brackets
Sort CanonicallySort Canonically

* 'Number Delimiters' only apply to 'Paragraph Order'

Let's Connect
x
Daily Devotionals
x

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans
x

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one’s mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan

Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Bible Basics: An Introduction to Christian Beliefs

Don Stewart :: What Do We Do When Certain Doctrines Seemingly Contradict Each Other? (Paradoxes and Concurrent Truths)

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

Customize your font sizeIncrease your font sizeDecrease your font sizeReturn to default font size

Choose a Bible text color
Read the Bible in blackRead the Bible in dark blueRead the Bible in blue

Customize your text type
Arial font
Trebuchet MS font
Georgia font
Times New Roman font

Customize your Hebrew text type
SBL Hebrew font
Times New Roman font
Arial font

Customize your Greek text type
Gentium font
Times New Roman font
Arial font

Close font preferences

Question 13

What Do We Do When Certain Doctrines Seemingly Contradict Each Other? (Paradoxes and Concurrent Truths)

As we study the Bible, we will find that there are some doctrines that seem to conflict with one another. How are we to understand these doctrines that seem to be contradictory? Should we change our view of the inerrancy of the Bible?

A number of points need to be made. They include the following:

  1. We Need to Understand the Law of Non-Contradiction

    To begin with, it is important that we understand something about the law of non-contradiction. It is the basis of all logical thinking and reasoning. It states that no statement can be true and false at the same time and in the same sense.

    For example, God cannot be both impersonal and personal at the same time. Jesus could not have been born in both Bethlehem and Nazareth. Statements that claim such things are clear contradictions and thus violate the law of non-contradiction. This means that at least one of the two things asserted is wrong; possibly both statements are wrong.

    The Bible, however, makes no such contradictory statements. It teaches that God is personal, never impersonal, and that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth.

  2. A Paradox Is Not Necessarily a Contradiction

    The technical term for something that is a seeming contradiction, but actually is not, is “paradox.” There are also a few Christian writers who use the word “antinomy” to describe statements that appear contradictory but actually are not.

  3. Paradoxes in Scripture Are Concurrent Truths

    A paradox is not the same as a contradiction. It is two truths that are seemingly contradictory, but in reality are not. We may not be able to resolve the statements, but the statements are true nevertheless. In theology, this has also been called, “concurrence.” Concurrence means “running together.” Two statements concur, or work together, without being contradictory.

Examples of Paradoxes (Concurrent Truths) in Scripture

We find that Scripture contains a number of truths that are paradoxes. They include the following:

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: God Controls Everything, but We Still Have Choice

An example of a paradox is the Scriptural teaching of the sovereignty, or absolute control, of God and the personal responsibility, and realistic choice, that all human beings enjoy. How can God be controlling all of history while, at the same time, humans have legitimate choice?

Each of these truths is clearly taught in Scripture, but each seems to contradict the other. An example of this can be found in a statement of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John:

Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37 NRSV)

The Contemporary English Version puts it this way:

Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won’t turn any of them away. (John 6:37 CEV)

This passage teaches both the sovereign choice of God as well as the human responsibility to believe. Jesus said that everything and everyone that the Father gives Him will come to Him; this is divine sovereignty. On the other hand, He also says, whoever does come to Him will not be turned away; that’s human responsibility.

Only God knows how these seemingly conflicting principles can be fully harmonized. Consequently, we must accept both sides as correct. God chose us and, in some sense, we also chose Him.

The best thing for us to do is to realize these truths are compatible, but that we do not totally understand how they can be true at the same time.

The Doctrine of the Trinity: God Is Both Three and One

Another example of a paradox would be the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible says that only one God exists. Yet, while there is only one God, this one God consists of three distinct Persons, or centers of consciousness; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is a paradox. God is both three and one at the same time.

Observations about Biblical Paradoxes

This being the case, we should make a couple of important observations.

  1. God Cannot Contradict Himself

    When we meet a statement in Scripture that is seemingly contradictory we must recognize the problem is with us, and not with the Scripture. The God of the Bible cannot contradict Himself. Paul wrote to Titus the following truth:

    Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began. (Titus 1:1-2 ESV)

    We read this same truth in the Book of Hebrews. The writer put it this way:

    So God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence. (Hebrews 6:18 NLT)

    Therefore, we should always approach the Scripture from the starting point that it always tells the truth because the God of truth does not lie.

  2. The Human Mind Is Limited in What It Can Understand

    Paradoxes, in Scripture, are really concurrences; two statements that seemingly contradict but are true in ways that we cannot completely understand.

    Therefore, any paradox that we encounter when we study the Scripture will not be a problem with God, or with His Word—it will be with us. We have these Bible difficulties because of the limitation of the human mind. Because of the limitations of our minds, we find it impossible to completely reconcile these seemingly opposing teachings on the same subject.

    Consequently, when we come across one of these paradoxes we must humbly admit our ignorance and not attempt to make some type of forced reconciliation. Instead, we must reverently accept the truths that are taught and go on.

We Need to Realize That These Paradoxes Are Mysteries That Cannot Logically Be Understood

It is important that we appreciate the fact that not everything we come across in Scripture will be understood. There are paradoxes that are beyond our understanding. They are genuine mysteries which cannot be solved this side of heaven.

While the truths are concurrent, or somehow work together, we cannot totally comprehend how this may be so. We should humbly accept this fact.

Summary - Question 13
What Do We Do When Certain Doctrines Seemingly Contradict Each Other? (Paradoxes and Concurrent Truths)

The study of God’s Word will bring us to doctrines, or teachings, that seemingly contradict each other.

However, Scripture comes from the God of truth who cannot contradict Himself. These statements, known as paradoxes, are true even though we cannot totally reconcile them. Paradoxes occur because of the limitations of the human mind.

Examples of biblical paradoxes are the teaching on the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of humans, as well as the doctrine of the Trinity. These paradoxes are mysteries that will not be able to be solved in this life.

Thus, we must accept the fact that the doctrines are true although we will never be able to completely understand how this can be so.

Why Don’t All Christians Agree on Doctrinal Matters? (Why Are There So Many Different Denominations?) ← Prior Section
What Does the Term, “Mystery” Mean in Reference to Bible Doctrine? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

Loading...

Interlinear
Bibles
Cross-Refs
Commentaries
Dictionaries
Miscellaneous
Verse Tools Arrow
Login to your account

Email / username or password was incorrect!

Check your email for password retrieval

 

Complete the form below to register  [?]

Error: That Email is already registered

Error: Please provide a valid Email

Error: Passwords should have at least 6 characters

Error: Passwords do not match

Error: Please provide a valid first name

Error: That username is already taken

Error: Usernames should only contain letters, numbers, dots, dashes, or underscores

[ Cancel ]← Login to Your Account

Passwords should have at least 6 characters.
Usernames should only contain letters, numbers, dots, dashes, or underscores.

Thank you for registering. A verification email has been sent to the address you provided.

Error: That Email / Username is not registered

Enter Your Email or UsernameUsername or Email Address

 

← Return to Login

Close LoginCLOSE
Tap to Close