Contradictions are Carnal

There was a time when people understood that holding to contradictory beliefs was a bad thing. And I don’t mean bad as in annoying or socially unacceptable only, but bad as in immoral. Philosophers and theologians alike strove to present logically consistent systems of thought devoid of any contradictions between their constitutive propositions. With postmodernism’s essentialist declarations concerning anthropology, language, morality, and epistemology (see here), however, contradiction has come to be viewed, ironically enough, as an essential part of human intellection. Systems of thought that purport to be contradiction-free, consequently, are judged to be either hopelessly philosophically naive or arrogant and dishonest. And this, of course, includes religious systems of thought.

Now, in the world, Christianity is thought to be naive and/or dishonest because it asserts that it and it alone is true. Within many professedly Christian churches, the same sentiment is directed against those who assert that certain doctrines are foundationally true, such that a denial of these doctrines indicates that one is lost. Whereas the world demands that Christians abandon our uniqueness and let religious bygones be bygones, many in professedly Christian churches demand that we abandon orthodoxy and let doctrinal bygones be bygones.

In both instances, what is being embraced is the postmodern idea that contradiction is inevitable, even in the pages of God’s Word. Additionally, what is implicitly embraced is the conviction that contradictions, in fact, are good, seeing as they push forward a progressively unfolding and expanding theological dialectic which will never resolve in this life. This open-ended dialectic is seen as the means whereby Christians may be epistemically humbled and led to soften their tone regarding the core doctrines of Christianity.

But Scripture doesn’t support this view of contradictions. In fact, consistently teaches that contradictions are evil, wicked. For instance, consider what Paul says in 2nd Cor 1:17 –

Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?

In this passage, Paul explains that saying yes and no at the same time, and in the same sense, is not morally neutral, it is according to the flesh, or carnal. It is to be, in essence, what James calls “double-minded” in James 1:5-8. He writes –

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Such self-contradictory thinking renders us unstable, unable to think and act in accordance with the truth. Self-contradiction is part and parcel of what is not knowledge at all. In 1st Tim 6:20 Paul writes –

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge…”

Contradictions, then, are neither profound, enlightening, good, spiritual, or godly. Rather, contradictions are carnal.

Who Cares?

Some may ask why it is important to point out that contradictions are carnal. There are many reasons I can give, but I think these three are among the greatest.

  1. False teachers are bitterly opposed to clear thinking. If a teacher trades in contradictory statements regarding his doctrine or his personal life (e.g. whether he is or is not involved in a given sinful relationship or behavior), then we may properly identify him as, at the very least, a threat to the stability of the church. At worst, he is an enemy of God and his church who must be publicly rebuked, renounced, and removed from the pulpit. In either case, he is unfit for the ministry of the Word and should be avoided.
  2. Understanding that contradictions are to be eliminated from our thinking will cause us to be more cautious in our doctrine and in our life. The goal of being without any contradictions in our thinking should lead us to strive toward that end, knowing that being consistent in our thinking is not an empty academic exercise but an exercise in godliness.
  3. Contradictions are false, and we are to be people of the Truth, who believe the truth, and who are led by the Spirit of Truth to walk in the way of truth.

In regeneration, we are given the mind of Christ. Let us be conformed by his Word to think as he does – without contradictions.

Soli Deo Gloria

Leviticus 4: Some Observations

leviticus1. Regarding Salvation, God is Not a Respecter of Persons.

This chapter shows us that God’s forgiveness is not intended for a specific social class. Rather, God provides atonement for anyone,1 the whole congregation,2 a leader,3 and anyone of the common people.4 This is just one more place in Scripture where we see that God is not a respecter of persons. Those who hate the Scriptural teaching that God predestined the elect unto salvation argue that this would make God a respecter of persons. However, that isn’t the case. God’s election of his people is not based on his respect for some peculiar property they possess. God’s election of his people is based on his absolute freedom to do as he wills. It is the one who says that God saves those who exhibit some attribute or property that is assuming God is a respecter of persons. For in that person’s view, those who do not meet some condition or other are not elected by him.

2. Regarding Condemnation, God is Not a Respecter of Persons.

This chapter, thus, shows us that all men are condemned by the Law of God. The Law identifies all people who are under its jurisdiction. In the case of the people of Israel, the ceremonial law applied to them as God’s peculiar people. However, in the case of the Law of God revealed in the heart of man universally and, more specifically, in the pages of the Word of God, all people are judged. Just as God is not a respecter of persons when it comes to salvation, he is likewise not a respecter of persons when it comes to damnation. No one will escape the condemnation of the law because he is of high or low social standing. No one will be able to point to his high or low social standing an plead that he, on that basis, has a right to be let into heaven without an atonement for his sins.

3. Some Sins are Unintentional.

There are unintentional sins. This is an important truth to remember. While we know that we are all sinners, and that we – and we, ourselves, alone – are accountable for our sins, we often forget that sometimes we sin unintentionally. We can be too harsh with others for what we realize is sin, but they don’t realize is sin.

4. Sin is Revealed by Time, Circumstance, or Other Brethren.

Sometimes, our sin needs to be revealed by time and circumstance or others in the congregation. It’s the case that we sin unintentionally. It’s also the case that while we may come to realize our sin on our own,5 the Holy Spirit tells us that there will be times when time and circumstances, or others in the congregation will make our sin known to us.6

5. The Revelation of Sin is Not to be Unaccompanied by the Revelation of God’s Provision for Sinners.

The recognition of sin, and the calling out of sin, is not to be unaccompanied by the grace of God available to the guilty sinner. Note that once the sin is made known, the sinner is to offer a sacrifice. Why? So that his sin might be forgiven. The law’s mentioned in this chapter show us the relationship between sin and grace. God’s exposure of our sin is intended to bring us to the priest through whom we will find forgiveness – i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, our high priest.

Soli Deo Gloria

1 cf. 4:2.
2 cf. 4:13.
3 cf. 4:22.
4 cf. 4:27.
5 cf. 4:13, 22, & 27.
6 cf. 4:14, 23, & 28.