Swallow A Camel —


Protégé: Why do you insist on everything being rational?
Mentor: You have asked a question. When I answer your question, is it OK if my answer is irrational?

Of course, a sane student will realise that life becomes completely futile and chaotic if we tolerate irrational conclusions. If inconsistencies are accepted as valid, it is not even possible to find anything to be true. If a statement is accepted as correct, and the opposite is also accepted as correct, then we are no longer talking about Truth, but opinion, error, or folly.

Jesus had some harsh words to say to those who believed, and especially those who taught, inconsistent doctrine.

What is a biblical approach to interpreting Scripture?

To answer this question, a thorough investigation would include proper reverence to the use of reason. We would do well to show, from Scripture, that two contradictory conclusions cannot both be true within the same context.

For example, the Bible clearly says that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Because of this, we cannot come to any conclusion, or interpret any scripture, as if God was lying. If we did, we would essentially be throwing out all of the verses and lessons showing us that God does not lie.

The basis of non-contradiction is not disproven by examples of seeming contradiction, such as:

  • “there is one God”
  • the trinity of the Godhead
  • “there be gods many”

This is because those are each true in separate contexts.

Also, there are some doctrines that do not seem to be reasonable. For example, it does not make sense that God would love us while we are sinners. However, this is not a contradiction within the teachings of Scripture, but a discrepancy between the mind of God and the mind of finite humans.

There is a law, as exemplified in Scripture, that all conclusions must abide by logic. This is not the kind of law that was decreed or legislated, but discovered, as a natural law, like mathematics.

Here are some biblical examples of this fundamental law:
1) Jesus demonstrated reason when He taught the Scriptures. Here is one illustration. The disciples thought Jesus was scolding them because they forgot to bring bread. Jesus rebuked them for such thinking. The reason Jesus gave them for His chiding was that He had miraculously fed thousands of people, on two different occasions, so He obviously was not referring to a lack of bread.
2) Jesus says “ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” We cannot know the truth if contradictions can be true. Our grasp of the truth would continually elude us.
3) Jesus asserted that it is not OK for doctrine to be contradictory, for example, in Mark 12:27, denouncing the Sadducees doctrinal inconsistency Jesus said, “ye therefore do greatly err.” http://www.whythawye.me/bible/html/830.html
4) There are many occasions in the epistles when logical deduction is employed, such as: Hebrews 8:7 “For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” Another one is: Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

We will not understand everything about God or doctrine, but what we do understand will be consistent. The more we understand it, the more consistent it will be. If I find some teachings in the Bible that seem to be inconsistent, it is because my understanding is incomplete.

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