I’m a pretty logical guy. I have a minor in computer science, which means I spent a lot of time writing “if this, then this” type statements in college. If you click the mouse then the entire computer shuts down and you lose all your work. That kind of thing.
I like it when TV shows and movies are logical. Jen and I recently watched four seasons of the television show Fringe. For the first two seasons everything was pretty logical – at least in a paranormal, “Oh hey look at that mutant freak,” kind of way. But during season three the writers must have gotten bored because all sorts of weird stuff started happening. Stuff that didn’t fit within the world they had created during the first two seasons. That bugged the heck out of me. I like logic. Straight lines. A to B. If to then. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
But the Bible doesn’t always work according to my logic. A doesn’t always lead to B. Two plus two doesn’t always equal four. Sometimes water flows uphill.
Let me give an example. I believe in the doctrine of election. In other words, I believe God chooses some men and women to be saved. Apart from God choosing us we would never choose God. I believe in election because it runs throughout the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I believe in election because of scriptures like Ephesians 1:4-6, which says:
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
The doctrine of election is clearly taught in scripture and I fully embrace it.
The logical extension of the doctrine of election is that we don’t need to choose God. After all, if God chooses some to be saved and not others how can we be held responsible? And how can it be fair? When my human logic tackles the doctrine of election I end up with something that looks a lot like fatalism. Maybe I’m chosen, maybe I’m not, I don’t make a difference either way. Let’s eat and drink and be merry because maybe we’re chosen.
But God doesn’t play by my logic. He doesn’t join in my reindeer games. His thoughts are not like my thoughts and his ways are not like my ways.
In scripture the reality of human responsibility jogs right alongside the doctrine of election. When Peter preached at Pentecost and many fell under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Peter didn’t say, “Now ya’ll better go home and hope you’re chosen. If you’re not, tough luck.” No, he said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receivethe gift of the Holy Spirit.” Boom. Repent. Turn. Choose God!
God chooses us for salvation. We must repent and choose God. These two truths run in parallel streams throughout all of scripture. I can’t quite figure out how they work together. My logical brain can’t put them together into a nice, neat equation. If I try to reconcile these two truths I’ll inevitably end up falling off on side or the other. At the risk of great oversimplification, I would venture to say that Arminian theology is the result of trying to force these two truths to play nice together.
Let me give another example. I believe in the sufficiency of scripture. In other words, I believe the Bible contains all we need to know about God and his ways. The canon of scripture is closed. Jesus Christ was the greatest and fullest revelation of God and his ways. Once the apostolic writings were completed the Bible was finished. We don’t get any more revelations about God or his ways. Anyone who claims to have new revelation about God’s character is a heretic. Sianora Joseph Smith. Farewell, Rob Bell. Sola scriptura baby.
But I also believe in the ongoing, continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit. I actually believe in prophesy and miraculous healing and speaking in tongues. Why? Because of passages like Joel 2:28-29:
And it shall come to pass afterward,that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams,and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
This is clearly a new covenant promise. This is not an apostolic era promise. This promise did not expire when the canon was completed. Despite the best arguments from cessasionists (and I really do respect guys like John MacArthur), I can’t see this as anything other than a promise for the entirety of the New Covenant era.
So I embrace the beautiful, mysterious, perplexing logic of the Bible. I believe prophecy is a real thing. I believe God can give someone specific, prophetic insight into circumstances that they could not have known otherwise. But I also believe these prophecies must be submitted to the clear revelation of scripture. Prophecy must be orderly. It must build up the church. It must must be carefully tested against the word of God.
The logical extension of the sufficiency of scripture is the cessation of gifts of the Spirit. But Joel 2, along with numerous other passages, molds and bends and shapes my logic. The Bible presses upon me and stamps me with its image.
Logic is a good gift from God. But if we rely on logic alone we can end up with half formed doctrine. And the reality is, God usually doesn’t play by our logic. After all, the cross was totally illogical by all human wisdom. But God makes fools out of the wise and buffoons out of the bombastic.
Let’s embrace God’s beautiful, mysterious, biblical logic. His ways are not our ways, and that’s a really good thing.