Story of the Day for Tuesday February 28, 2012
Understanding Paradox with Rufus the June Beetle
God determined . . . the exact times and boundaries where people should live, so they would seek him and, consequently, in their searching would find him . . . For in him we live and move and have our being.
Today, I want to pick a fight, and argue that we should stop fighting and arguing so much in the church.
When the stakes are high – and they don’t get any higher than when we’re defending the truths about God – we easily confuse unwavering loyalty to God with stubbornness. Listening thoughtfully and openly to another’s point of view sounds far too much like compromising the truth. And so, we entrench, and prepare for battle.
One of the greatest points of doctrinal contention is whether God is totally sovereign, or whether we have free will. As Christians, we have gotten into more food fights over this issue than any other I can name.
But what if both sides are right?
The apostle Paul was comfortable with paradox. When he was speaking to the tweedy philosopher types in Athens, he affirmed both sides of the argument. He talked about God wanting everyone to seek him, and, in their searching, to find him. Sounds like free will. But he also emphasized God’s complete sovereignty. God determines what happens when, and we can’t live or move or exist apart from his decision.
Paul assumes both sides of the matter are true.
Now, many claim that, when I went to seminary to drink from the fountains of knowledge, I only gargled. And I’m certainly not helping my cause by telling you my position on sovereignty and free will has been influenced by Rufus the June beetle.
Once upon a time, a June beetle named Rufus woke to a sunny morning and decided to fly around, and do buggy things. He flew through the open window of a Chevy pickup. No particular reason. He was a bug.
Soon, a human got in, rolled up the windows, and drove down the road.
Is Rufus still free? Obviously not. His movements are totally dictated by the will of the driver. Rufus is going wherever the driver chooses to go.
Is Rufus now under the total control of the driver? Well, no, actually. He’s still free to do beetle stuff, like landing in people’s hair or getting stuck on his back.
Now look at the mess we’ve made. Rufus has free will but doesn’t have free will. The driver is totally controlling Rufus’ movements, but doesn’t totally control Rufus’ movements. We’ve got ourselves a paradox: two truths are true at the same time.
Thinking any deeper than this makes my brain hurt. But I do know that seeing life from both angles allows me to bow before the God who is Lord of all, and still rejoice in the glorious freedom he has given the children of men.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)