truth as paradox

truth as paradox

by dwight friesen



God is plurality – God is one


Jesus is God – Jesus is human


Sinner – saint


In the world – not of the world


Paradox has at least three offspring: certainty, doubt and faith. 


Certainty looks at paradox and says, “They can’t both be true.  I will take sides.  I will exercise my mind and my reason to confidentially claim my argument as true.  I will gather data and build my case.  I will defeat my enemies.  I will defend my position adamantly, for I am right.”  Certainty can be one of the chief enemies of relationship, because it draws a line in the sand daring others to cross.  Inability to live with paradox requires the “Certain Person” to battle all contrary world views.  “Us verses them” in a battle-royal-fight-to-the-death.  It is little wonder that certainty often leads to closed-minds, closed-hearts, and I’m in/you’re out fundamentalism. 


Doubt looks at paradox and says, “Neither is true,” or says “I can never know which is true and which is not.”  Doubt looks within itself to create meaning. Doubt is void of relationship because doubt turns neither to God, nor other people but turns inward to make truth for itself.  It relies on the individual as it is incapable of seeing beyond itself.  Doubt often leads to materialism/atheism, and agnosticism. 


Faith looks outside itself for resolution.  Faith is relational.  It is less

concerned with the propositions and dogma then it is concerned about a person, Jesus Christ.  So when faith sees paradox, faith humbly bows before God, saying “You are Truth.  Let me walk with You and Your Truth will be my truth.  Reveal Yourself in me and I will experience and know You, for You are Truth.”  Faith approaches truth from its knees.  Faith approaches truth as relationship with God.  Faith is in a person not in a concept or ideology.  Faith approaches truth with certainty not in principles, creed and text by with certainty of relationship. 


When a person stands before God on that day the question is not “were You orthodox in your theology” rather the question is “did you know ME?” 


All Christian doctrine is rooted in paradox so as to drive us toward relationship with Christ.  When Paradox is not core to our theology our human tendency is to move theology toward certainty – a knowledge which puffs up and divides, or to move toward doubt which says we can not know anything, so why try. 


Paradox holds seemly opposing views loosely, offering them up to God as a sacrifice of worship inviting the Holy Spirit to guide us into all Truth. 


Again, Truth is not primarily understood as a philosophy or ideology, Truth is a person to be known.  Truth is Christ.


I began the article by saying that offspring of paradox are faith, doubt and certainty.  Doubt and certainty are in paradox themselves.  For the evangelical Christ-follower sitting with this paradox (doubt & certainty) may serve as an excellent starting point for all theology.  Doubt and certainty are both the best friends of faith and faith’s worst enemies.  And when these two are held in paradox certainty and doubt bring seekers to their knees and faith in Christ is born.

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