Speaking of Charles Spurgeon…
If you don’t already know who Alcorn is, I’d like to introduce him to you. In fact, when you finish with this post, you might want to check out C.J. Mahaney’s recent four-part interview with Alcorn: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Before you run off, though, I’d like to ask you to spend a couple of minutes with me here looking at one particular aspect of Alcorn’s theology that has a distinct Spurgeon-esqe flavor.
In a brief but excellent article on his website, Alcorn has compiled some of Spurgeon’s thoughts on our need as believers to embrace biblical paradox. The article’s a gold mine of Spurgeon quotes on the subject. Here’s an example:
Men who are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed, a creed which will put together and form a square like a Chinese puzzle, are very apt to narrow their souls. Those who will only believe what they can reconcile will necessarily disbelieve much of divine revelation. Those who receive by faith anything which they find in the Bible will receive two things, twenty things, ay, or twenty thousand things, though they cannot construct a theory which harmonizes them all. (“Faith,” Sword and Trowel, 1872)
That’s a good warning. If you will only believe what you can reconcile, you have no choice but to disbelieve much of Scripture. If you want everything neatly systematized, you’re likely to narrow your own soul. I think the opposite is also true. Believing everything the Bible says, even though we can’t reconcile it all, will enlarge our souls.
On a side note, it seems that Spurgeon doesn’t mean that there are some things that you or I may not be able to reconcile, but someone else may. That’s certainly a possibility, but it doesn’t seem to be Spurgeon’s point. He says, for instance, on the subject of human responsibility and divine sovereignty:
These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil.
There are some things in Scripture, according to Spurgeon, that no one can reconcile. Alcorn comes to the conclusion that…
…Our desire for logical consistency, as we understand it, can become our God. Then we, not Scripture and not God, become our own ultimate authority. We end up ignoring, rejecting, or twisting Scripture that doesn’t fit our chosen theology. On the contrary, our theology should be a reflection of Scripture itself, and wherever Scripture teaches apparently contradictory ideas, our theology should embrace those same ideas, rather than resort to a consistency which rejects part of God’s revealed Word.
In closing, perhaps some caution is in order. We have to walk a fine line. We should never abandon logic and reason. We should always think hard about the paradoxes found in Scripture, and we should never stop asking hard questions about them. At the same time, we need to heed the warnings of Spurgeon and Alcorn and others, and beware of making a god out of logical consistency. Comprehendible gods are nothing more than intellectually sophisticated idols.
…to be continued