Contradiction: A Pathway to Discovering God
A friend of mine recently received the results of an MRI. She was visibly upset as she told me the test results were negative. She said because the results were negative, they confirmed that she was very sick. I smiled as I gave her the good news that negative test results were a good thing, that negative was a positive and positive would be negative.
Different Types of Contradictions
This experience demonstrates what I call simple contradiction. It is simply the use of terms that at face value seem to represent their opposite. Another example is a combination of two street signs I saw one day. One sign said “Do Not Enter.” A sign right beside it said “Entrance.”
There are other examples of contradiction that are more complex, with a logical crease where they intersect, allowing discovery to occur. Failures become opportunities. Feeling useless while being useful. Being in a crowd and feeling alone. Giving up control to be free. And a corollary to that, needing laws to insure freedom. In each case, one ends where the other begins. One points to the other and gives the other meaning.
A Contradiction of Christian Faith?
This is the case with what seems to be a significant contradiction of our Christian faith. The question: How can the God of infinite love who is love itself, also be the God of judgement, a God of wrath? This is a question often raised by non-believers who refuse to explore the place where these two attributes of God intersect and where we find a pathway by which we can discover his true nature as Father God.
A loving God, love itself, is a God of judgement.
As a loving God, as love itself, he loves us despite what we do and sent his Son to the cross to reconcile us to him. However, he still allows us to accept or reject his love. As a just God, with wrath also being part of his being, he must judge us according to what we do when we reject his love through sin.
A Loving Father
Our heavenly Father loves us in the same way our earthly fathers should. As the loving source of our lives here on earth, our fathers should love us unconditionally for who we are and not necessarily what we do or don’t do. On the other hand, they should hold in disdain our wrongdoing and hold us accountable, especially if it originates from or results in a rejection of their love.
A Final Consideration
Consider this. What would be your view of God if you only had the Old Testament to rely upon to help you reconcile how a God of love, love itself, could also be a God of wrath? The contradiction could still be understood, but the crease where the two attributes of God intersect takes on a wonderful new meaning when the ultimate act of love on the cross reconciled the divide between God’s love and judgement.
Listening to God's Words
And he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. Psalm 9:8
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
Also read: Zephaniah 3:17, 1 John 2:1-29, Ephesians 1:3-8, Colossians 1:19-23
In the Words of Others
While the Bible's account of the flood is one of judgment, it is also one of mercy and salvation. Likewise, our future full-size evangelistic Noah's Ark will honor the Bible as God's word and not treat it as a pagan fable. Ken Ham
It is not earthly rank, nor birth, nor nationality, nor religious privilege, which proves that we are member of the family of God; it is love, a love that embraces all humanity. Ellen G. White
Think About It
Have there been times in your life when you experienced God’s loving presence? Describe how you felt.
Have there been times when you experienced his wrath in some way? Describe why you felt that way.
Has your view of God evolved over the years? How so?
Think about how the God of the Old Testament compares with the New Testament given Christ’s death on the cross.