Contradictions, Contextualization, Conclusions

“Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:13

You see, I’m really not that interested in answers; that is, conclusions. I don’t like conclusions at all; I find them both boring and choking. It’s like, they close me off from exploring any further, as though I’m in a room that has neither doors nor windows — you know, sort of like a mental prison cell. I noticed this trait from when I was a kid, but it intensified during my teen years. I’ve always felt more at home and comfy with questions, riddles, puzzles, unresolved mysteries; in short, contradictions.

And, frankly speaking, I was scared things would change as I got older. Fortunately, however, I’ve only gotten more suspicious of, and uncomfortable with conclusions. Thank God! Along the way, though, I received a handful of beliefs and convictions here and there, almost as a gift from my Source. Maybe to help ground me in what I’ve realized would be a lifelong journey of questioning, of thinking I’ve figured one thing out, only to realize I’m no closer to the answer. And I can compress all of  my beliefs and convictions into one simple sentence: God is, He is my Source, and His Son Jesus Christ is my Substitute, Saviour, and Master. And though I can rephrase and paraphrase that simple sentence in an infinite number of forms, what matters is that they undergird my journey, and help me make sense of it all. Beyond that, I’m not sure I’m interested in any conclusions.

But I’ve  also made peace with who I am; with the fact that I will always suspect and question all conclusions. At the end of the day — not that it really matters that much — there appears to be a pattern to my madness: I’m interested only in that truth that is uniquely tailored to who I am, and relevant to my own journey. In that sense, whatever answers I discover — or probably conjure up — can only be mine, and for me. Which is why these days I seriously refrain from telling anyone how to live their lives; and why no one should derive any general principles and doctrines from my writings. These findings are uniquely mine.

I hope I leave you with more questions than answers, since I don’t think contradictions weaken the truth; because reality is essentially composed of contradictions. In fact, I even tend to think that contradictions constitute the right atmosphere for the flourishing of truth; such that when you eliminate contradictions from truth, you destroy it.

Now, come to think of it, I don’t understand the need of some folks to eliminate contradictions from truth, as though truth needed them to make it all add up. You want to force truth to add up? Good luck! Think of the bible, for instance: a collection of scores of sacred texts, written by different men from different periods of time, varying circumstances and walks of life. How could you expect them all to compose a linearly logical presentation of truth? That would be ridiculous! I would personally throw the book away if that were the case. Sometimes, I suspect that the whole idea of theological and scriptural contextualization may be attempts to clarify and eliminate contradictions; but it rarely succeeds — of course, except in the mind of the ‘contextualizer’. Nevertheless, the sight of theological gymnasts twisting in the wind in their futile efforts to eliminate contradictions, through convoluted contextualization, amuses me; it can be quite entertaining.

Here are some exercises for you:

While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit declared: “The Lord said to my Lord:”Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?…”~ Mark 12:35-37

Another one:

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind…”~ Numbers 23:19

Is it true that God doesn’t change His mind? How about this?

“Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares; ‘I PROMISED that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.’ BUT NOW the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”~ 1 Samuel 2:30

Seems like He changed his mind here; distancing himself from an earlier promise; and with an exclamation for that matter. I guess you see what you want to see.

Conclusions? Contradictions?

Have a blissful week!