Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lesslie Newbigin on the Gospel And Paradox

To begin this post, I think it's fitting to explain briefly why I haven't continued writing on the subject matter of tension on this website as I'd originally intended. The reason is simple, really; It's a big subject and I'd like to be thorough.

I've enjoyed some fruitful thought about this. Nonetheless, until I consider my conclusions more developed, I'd like simply to post relevant quotes and examples of tension and paradox in theology, philosophy, and experience.

(And as I've written in another post, my goal in highlighting tension is not to play fast and loose with the truth. Rather, it's to bring attention to the fact that in some cases the truth cannot fully be grasped without "the other hand.")

To this end, I'd like to share a quote by Lesslie Newbigin on paradox found in the good news of Jesus.

* * *
“We know that sin and suffering belong together, not as an accident, but by a necessary connection. They ought to belong together - and that is another way of saying that God punishes sin. That is not an Old Testament doctrine abrogated by the gospel. It is taught by Jesus in the Gospels with an absoluteness that is nowhere exceeded in the Old Testament. 
“But it is just because we know and cannot escape from that fundamental certainty, that the cross is what it is to us, the demonstration that the God against whom we have sinned and who rightly punishes sin, Himself drinks to the very dregs, deeper than even the foulest sinner has to drink, the cup of punishment.
“The paradox reaches its climax when He whom we know as the Word made flesh cries out ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ God bereft of God that He might save those who have sinned against God.
“I know it is sheer paradox, but I firmly believe that the heart of the gospel is there, and that if you remove one side of the paradox, and say that in the cross belief in divine punishment was shown to be an error, I think you both undercut all real moral experience and also take the power out of the cross itself.”
- Lesslie Newbigin, Signs Amid the Rubble: The Purposes of God in Human History, 43.

(My thanks to Trevin Wax, who posted this quote to his blog.)

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