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Both/And Doctrines

Both/And Doctrines

Last week I wrote about the problem that stems from approaching scriptural truth with an either/or approach. Specifically I dealt with the way in which love and doctrine are pitted against each other, or at least one is subordinated to the other. My conclusion was that the view that it is either love or doctrine that is more important than the other, is error. Actually it is both love and doctrine that are equally important.

This got me thinking throughout the week about a number of scriptural truths that are presented in a both/and manner. Here is a quick outline of three.

[1] Salvation is both of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of Man

This has been argued back and forth for centuries as man has sought to find a way to understand God’s mysterious dealings in the salvation of a soul. Inevitably, such an approach ends in error, as it requires us to subordinate one to the other. But, both are true. There are those who emphasise the sovereignty of God. You will hear them say things like, ‘how can God be sovereign if man has any choice?’ On the other hand there are those who make man’s responsibility the chief doctrine; ‘How can man be free if God has already made a determination?’ We’re not invited to enter into the mechanics, in fact any attempt to do so will end in error. We are simply required to believe both: God is sovereign and man is responsible. God has chosen, but man must believe.

[2] Christ is both man and God

This is another point of controversy throughout the two millennia of church history, to the point that at one stage it required a couple of church councils to resolve. Even today there are large groups of professing Christians who deny the true humanity of Jesus Christ. They question how one person can be both man and God, and extend the argument to question how God could, or why He would deign to become man. Surely it is beneath Him? I’m sure they have good intentions, but the crux of the matter is this; if Christ is not a real man, born of the seed of the woman, then He cannot save. On the other hand the Bible critic questions how a man can be God. To avoid His claims, they seek to reduce Him to just a man. One is the assault on the person of Christ from within, the other is from without. One group intends to traduce Him, the other does it unwittingly.

[3] God and men both wrote scripture

Another foundational issue. The Bible is both inspired of God (literally God-breathed) and written (inscripturated) by man. Man in his ingenuity has devised a whole plethora of theories to avoid what appears to be a contradiction, ranging from partial inspiration (only what hasn’t been scientifically disproven is inspired), to dynamic inspiration (only the thoughts are inspired) to human inspiration (wise men wrote the Bible commissioned by God). Yet Scripture is clear; ‘holy men of God spake as they were moved (carried along) by the Holy Ghost’ (2 Pet. 1:21). It is both! God carried along the authors of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, so that Scripture is exactly as God intended, yet the personality and character of each author is evident. Only God can do this.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isa. 55:8)

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