Paradox is part of the nature of theology. Not theology as a study of God, although that is included. Rather theology as the definition of the nature of reality. Paradox is an element that we cannot understand. We cannot reconcile it with our logic. Yet, it is as much a part of reality as grass and trees and love and sadness. There is one God, yet there are three. It’s a paradox that we can’t understand. Our only options are to deny this reality because we can’t reconcile it or accept it, not by logic, but by faith.
Consider eternity. When God redeems the world in judgment, it is commonly believed that time will cease to exist and eternity will begin (if it can be said to have a beginning). The redeemed will live with God for all eternity… in timelessness. Yet, Scripture tells us of the streets of heaven. It speaks of our reuniting with loved ones and conversations with the Lord. How can these things occur in a “world” without time? Will it not take time to walk down heaven’s streets? Will time not pass as we converse with the Lord? Time must pass if we are to experience these and other things in heaven. There can be no “experience” without time as its context.
The fact that we “experience” anything at all is not a concept that conveys a fixed timeless point. Rather, it conveys a linear and temporal backdrop for the events that take place that allow us to have the experience. Yet time will not exist in heaven. This is a paradox. If the primal purpose of God’s plan is the eternal redemption of humanity so that He and we could spend eternity together, then paradox must be a core element of theological reality. What other paradoxes are there in God’s reality? That Jesus could be both fully God and fully man at the same time? That our works save us, but we are saved by faith alone? That we are told to have faith, but that faith is a gift from God that we could never conjure by our own will? The arrival of the Kingdom has not come to pass, yet it is already here?
God’s reality is full of paradox. This is one reason it is called a “mystery” and why it confounds those who are not humble enough to dismiss their logic. For we have only two options: deny this reality because we can’t comprehend it or accept it in faith even in the midst of incomprehension. Such a faith itself is a paradox for how can one believe in something he cannot understand? Yet faith we have because it is a gift of God. And we cannot claim any credit for it. Look for and enjoy the paradox. Revel in the mystery of God.