One of the things I’ve been thinking about for several years is the thought that two seemingly opposite truths can both be true at the same time. I see it all through the Bible. For example, Jesus was God AND man. The Bible was written by men AND inspired by God. God is sovereign AND we also have freewill. God chooses us AND we also choose Him. We are to love sinners AND hate the sin. We must live in freedom AND not let our freedom become a “license to sin.”
I found out later, after I had pondered it for a year or two, that this “opposite but truth” truths is a Hebraic thing. Greek thought has “either/or” beliefs: “either” this is true “or” that is true, but not both. The Jews, however, believe that two opposite truths can both be true. They are ok with not understanding everything, and with God being “mysterious.” In some book or another (I can’t remember which one) I read that there is a Hebrew phrase that says “These, also, are the words of God” meaning that two opposite things can both be true.
I believe that if we go to an extreme of one belief to the exclusion of the other, we fall into error. For example, if a person hates sin without loving the sinner, he becomes a hateful, judgmental, self-righteous person. However, if he loves the sinner and the sin, he loses his hold on truth and righteousness. Only in standing balanced between loving the sinner AND hating the sin can a person stand firm in truth.
I believe that many centuries of debate in the church, many new denominations, many church splits, have been the result of not understanding that “these, also, are the words of God.” Does God choose us or do we choose Him? Is God a God of justice or mercy? The answer is “yes.”
I try to live my life in the center, holding on to two seemingly opposite truths at the same time. But it isn’t easy. For example, I believe we must love the sinner and hate the sin, but how does a person do this? It’s very easy to either hate the sin AND the sinner, or love the sinner AND tolerate the sin. How does a person live a life of love/forgiveness AND holiness? It’s very easy to center on love and let holiness slip, or hold to holiness and let love slip. The Bible speaks of the necessity of being generous and helping the poor. But what do we do if a needy person is needy because he is an alcoholic or drug addict? What if he is using the money we have paid him for odd jobs to buy alcohol or drugs? And there’s a Jewish concept that one must always see good in others and not speak evil against them even if the evil is true. But where does this balance with speaking the truth?
Living centered between two opposite truths isn’t just true in theology. It affects ALL of life. We have to balance work with play to be a “balanced” person. We need to ALWAYS trust others but also not NEVER trust people. We need to be generous, but not unwise. We need to save money, but not be miserly. We need to be willing to listen to the advice of others, but not let other people make our decisions for us. All of life is a balance.
I try to live my life centered between opposite truths. It’s not always easy to understand how or to carry it out, but I find my life is more balanced because I try.