“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Pattern of Paradox

...Some time ago I wrote a series of posts on “The Paradoxes of Christianity.” Christianity is a faith that is saturated with paradoxes – paradoxes in the sense given here. When two starkly contrasting ideas, events, or objects that seem to be in tension are brought together, a dynamic connection or “paradox” between them emerges. The paradox, being the relationship or connection, is something other than and greater than the two original things. For example, “one must die in order to live” (a sequential and causal connection is established between death and life, two opposing realities). Or “Jesus Christ is both God and a man” (in this case, a connection of identity is made between God and man, two seemingly mutually exclusive categories). Paradoxical relationships like this abound in Christian doctrine, in the Gospel, and in Jesus’ teaching. And in each case, the beauty of the paradox is something more than its parts. The wonder of the Incarnation is more than the humility of Jesus the man, and more than the divinity of the Son of God. It is the astonishing fact that both are true simultaneously, in the same person: "the worth and beauty of the Son come not just from his majesty, nor just from his meekness, but from the way these mingle in perfect proportion" (John Piper, The Pleasures of God 29). A paradox, then, is a sort of "new thing" greater than the sum of its parts, similar to the examples we have already seen. Here is not the place to investigate this remarkable pattern of paradox in Christianity. Suffice it to say that in these paradoxes we see a particularly outstanding instance of this pattern of "new things" - the dynamic bond between the two things is especially strong, the paradoxical relationship especially compelling and beautiful...

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