An Antinomy, Not a Contradiction

In our study of Paul’s Letter to the Romans at White Fields, we have recently been looking at chapters 8, 9 and 10 which talk about divine election, predestination and how those relate to human responsibility. What these chapters teach is that God is sovereign over all things, and yet we are responsible for our actions.

In theological terms, this is called an “antinomy.” As opposed to a contradiction, antinomy refers to the tension between two things which seem at odds, but are yet both true at the same time. Antinomy is not to be confused with antinomianism (a rejection of, and even antagonism towards the moral commandments, rules and obligations which the Bible lays out. For more on antinomianism read: “Oh, How I Love Your Law” – the Role of the Law in the Life of a Believer)

John Stott writes that “few preachers have maintained this antinomy better than Charles Simeon of Cambridge, who said:

‘When I come to a text which speaks of election, I delight myself in the doctrine of election. When the apostles exhort me to repentance and obedience, I give myself up to that.’ “

To illustrate this antinomy, Simeon borrowed an illustration from the Industrial Revolution:

‘As wheels in a complicated machine may move in opposite directions and yet subserve a common end, so may truths apparently opposite be perfectly reconcilable with each other, and equally subserve the purposes of God in the accomplishment of man’s salvation.’

Here is a short video we recorded in follow-up to a sermon which touched on the topics of predestination and election:

The US Election and Some Reasons to be Hopeful

This past weekend I went with the elders of White Fields Church to Allenspark, where we had a marathon of meetings, but in such a beautiful spot that we could also enjoy some hiking and the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Sunrise on Mt. Meeker
We happened upon this mama bear and her 2 cubs in a tree near Lyons

We had a great time together, but I was surprised how exhausted I felt at the end of it. However, I feel very encouraged about where our church is at and where we are going.

Speaking of exhaustion and encouragement: the US election is coming up in 3 days.

I’m exhausted by the campaigns, by the division it causes, I’m exhausted because both of the major party candidates have major character flaws and neither of them are someone I can be excited to vote for.

However, I am also hopeful. Yesterday I ran across an article by Carey Nieuwhof that was a breath of fresh air. True, he’s a Canadian, so he doesn’t really have any skin in the game, but then on the other hand, they have Justin Trudeau and pretty much all of the things conservative Americans are concerned about happening in the US have already happened in Canada – so maybe a Canadian is the exact person who can speak into our situation.

Here’s the article: Despairing about the US Presidential election? 5 predictions that point toward hope.

Here are the 5 predictions he gives:

  1. There will be renewed interest in the sovereignty of God
  2. The church will look to Christ more and to the state less
  3. Living out your values will become more important than ever
  4. The tone of public discourse will get worse…or better
  5. The work of the local church will be more important than ever

Carey expounds on each of these in his post – it’s worth reading, but the tone of what he is saying is something I have found curiously lacking from Christian leaders during this election season.

I, for one, cannot lose hope – because as a Christian I know that 1) God is sovereign and 2) the best is yet to come.

Advent Meditations: 9 – No Room at the Inn

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn – Luke 2:7

It is striking how many details came together at the birth of Jesus; so many separate strands came together at one time and place to prepare the perfect setting for his coming – political movements, an empire-wide census which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, a star in the sky which directed Magi to Bethlehem.

The coming of Jesus into the world happened at a time and in a way that we can clearly see was providentially directed by and planned by God.

Don’t you think then, that the God who can align the stars, the God who can bring down and raise up political leaders, the God who can coordinate a census at just the right time, so that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, according to the prophecy… don’t you think that such a sovereign God could have also seen to it that there be an available guest room in Bethlehem for the burgeoning family to stay in?

Of course He could have. But He didn’t.

You see, it isn’t a question of what God could have done, it’s a question of what God willed to do.  (The same is true in our lives, by the way).

God could have made sure there was a place at the inn. God could have brought Jesus into the world in a wealthy family.  But what God willed to do was to have Jesus come into the world through a poor family in an unclean place.

Why?   It was for your sake.   For your sake He became poor, that through Him you might become rich – with a wealth beyond material riches. The kind of wealth that can never be taken from you, that moth and rust cannot destroy, that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:4).

Jesus’ mission didn’t begin only in his 30th year. No, the road to Calvary began in Bethlehem, in the barn, where the Holy One came into the world in the midst of uncleanness…    What a picture of the incarnation that is.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:9