Some Thoughts on “Paradoxes”

One definition of “paradox” is “a seemingly absurd statement about two ideas that appear to be in tension, that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded, true and harmonious.” Paradox is real and it is mysterious and it is wonder-inducing. Growing in spiritual maturity always requires us to learn to sit with and explore the paradoxes of life. Much revelation is found from seeing how truth is revealed in ways that at first might make our heads spin for a moment.

That being said, there are very common ways to speak about theology, spirituality and the nature of humanity that are not *paradoxical — but rather are pointlessly conflicting and self-contradictory. Further, trying to force these ideas to fit together not only might offer us no practical benefit… It often can actually make us double-minded. By trying to live out of such confusion, we could be interfering with our own ability to more effectively walk in integrity.

Sometimes, we are just too quick to use God’s ineffability and our finiteness as excuses to overlook the fact that we have adopted notions that simply don’t work together in any fruitful, rational, or recognizably beautiful way. The result is a lot of unnecessary cognitive dissonance. Much of that can be resolved when we get a little clearer on what opposing doctrines we hold to and why, and graciously let go of those that are actually intruding deceptions.

Let us embrace paradox wherever it may be encountered. But may we also give ourselves permission to avoid over-complications of the truth when we’re having difficulty reconciling things that clearly do not belong together in the first place.