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Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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April 23, 2021 12:01 am


Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 23, 2021 12:01 am

There are many things about God that our finite minds cannot grasp. Today, R.C. Sproul considers some of the mysteries of Scripture.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind.

You don't understand a contradiction you know why because a contradiction is inherently unintelligible, not a mystery.

On the other hand refers to something that now I don't understand, but may be something I can understand if given more information. We read the Bible. Sometimes we reach our limit of understanding. But that doesn't mean that what we're reading is unintelligible, but all God's ways are past finding out in his thoughts are not our thoughts, but he is not a God of confusion today on Renewing Your Mind. We continue Dr. RC Sproul series on apologetics. Our goal is to find the balance between holy all and holy certainty women examining in a course on apologetics ideas or concepts that are so closely related to each other that they can be and frequently are confused with one another and we started off with the three major categories of contradiction and secondly of paradox in third of mystery, but that in the course of our examination of these three ideas. I introduced 1/4 category which is the term antinomy, which is added to the confusion, because some folks particularly from Great Britain use the term antinomy as a synonym for paradox where classically and historically, the term antinomy and philosophy has been used as a synonym for contradiction now to muddy the waters even further if you were to go to recent additions of English dictionaries, you probably will see in those dictionaries. If you would look up the word contradiction after it is defined, then they'll give you the synonyms for contradiction and they will include frequently antinomy and paradox, and here I am laboring so hard to show the difference among these categories and yet if you pick up a dictionary you will see the very thing I'm trying to overcome confusion of these terms where the lexicographers are telling us now that these terms are virtually synonymous. Now how do we explain that when those we've seen in many cases language is fluid and it undergoes certain changes over time and when the lexicographers sets about the task of defining words and preparing a lexicon or a dictionary. That lexicographer pays attention to at least three major considerations. The first thing he looks at is the etymology of the word that is as we were looking earlier I said that this comes from the Latin, and I broke it down to the original Contra against the Kyoto to speak so that's its etymology or its etymological derivation.

The original language out of which the word emerged, then you look at the historical usage.

If you look at the 20 some volume set of the Oxford dictionary of English language you see frequent references to help words like this were used historically in the English language, and there may be citations for example from Shakespeare showing house Shakespeare in his age used a particular term and then bringing it down through the centuries and showing how the word may be undergoes subtle shifts in nuance and meaning, but the final criterion by which lexicographers define words is by contemporary usage. They keep their ear to the ground and see how modern people are using the term so that if enough people use a word incorrectly and they do it often enough that formerly incorrect use of the term will suddenly become the correct meaning of the term, as judged by that criterion of contemporary usage so I'm not at all surprised to see modern dictionaries calling paradox, a synonym for contradiction. Even though historically there is that important distinction between them and at this point since were talking philosophically and talking theologically. I'm using these terms in their historical sense, not the way in which they are modeled together in our contemporary culture. Now if confusion exists among these three terms as we've already seen the confusion becomes acute.

When we add this category into the mix. The category of mystery. No, I would say is a Christian theologian and as an apologist that the Christian faith has no contradictions. We've seen this way of interest in 20th century theological thought that not only embraces contradictions as part of the truth but are even exalted to the level of being the hallmark of truth and living in an age where people have been massively influenced by the philosophy of relativism. This becomes even more acute. As I said earlier I noticed that my students are coming to the seminary today out of their graduate classes from college and university have, in many cases uncritically accepted relativism as a perspective on reality and have no problems embracing both poles of a contradiction which I say is fatal to Christianity and indeed is slanderous to the Holy Ghost and to God to have God speaking in contradictions is frankly to have God speaking with a forked tongue and therefore is on trustworthy because what he says means what it says and does not mean what it says. At the same time in the same relationship and people. As I said earlier, try to avoid this problem by postulating a higher view of logic that God has in his mind that allows him to violate the law of contradiction where if I violate the law contradiction. I can be demonstrated to be a liar, but it's okay for God because he's a higher sort of being and he has a logic that transcends hours in the what may be illogical to us or contradictory to us can be resolved in the mind of God. Again, that view is epidemic within the church today and I said also that if that is taken to its logical conclusion is absolutely fatal to the Christian faith because that would mean practically speaking, that you could not trust a single word that God ever said because lurking behind his revealed word would always stand this higher end transcendental logic of his that makes it possible that in the final analysis for him to mean the exact antithesis of what is spoken to us in his word and that ultimately by divine logic, Christ could be the antichrist of the antichrist could be Christ and you would have no way of noticing the difference. But again, when we talk about mysteries were now introducing a category about which I think it is safe to say the Scripture has and includes many there are many mysteries in the sacred Scripture. I don't think there any contradictions but mysteries yes paradoxes yes and especially Mr. when we say that God is one in essence and three in person.

I don't think there's any one among us who can penetrate the depths of that concept of the Trinity or the opposite distinction that we have with respect to the incarnation of Jesus we say in the case of Jesus. There is one person with two natures, that human nature and a divine nature and historically what the church is done in defining the nature of Christ is to say that he's vera Homo and vera dioceses truly man, and truly God and that these two natures are distinct but perfectly united with each other in such a way as that they are not confused or mixed, separated, or divided those of the four negatives used at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but all at Chalcedon does. There's kind of put a fence around our understanding of the incarnation say we don't know how these two natures coexist in one person in the mystery of the incarnation. We haven't penetrated how the union of the two natures exists actually. But what we're saying is that we ought not to think of that union in these ways in such a way as to see them confused or mixed, or separated, or divided and so in many ways what Chalcedon is saying here is what the incarnation is not. Rather than telling us exactly what it is and it leaves the exact nature of the union of the two natures in Jesus as a mystery for future consideration. So I do not pretend to understand with my finite mind. The Trinity, nor do I understand the person of Christ. Nor do I understand the act of divine creation. I read the story of creation in the Bible where it says that God speaks the world into being through the power of his voice by simply say, let there be light and the lights come on. I can't comprehend that fully. I can't comprehend the infinitude of God. I know that he is infinite, but I don't have the ability as a finite creature to have a comprehensive knowledge of God. In fact, the very first page of systematic theology is that page given to the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God and to the formula for any tomb noncall pox infinity to the finite cannot contain or grasp the infinite, and so there are many things about God, we do not understand the perfect knowledge of him is too high for us is above us. It is beyond a somebody asked me just last week Marcy. The Bible says that now we know in part but after we die and go to heaven we will know in full, even as we are fully understood.

Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we'll see him face-to-face in the state does not mean that when we get to heaven we will then achieve a comprehensive knowledge of God.

I said no that's not what what that means is that there will be a quantum leap in our understanding of the things of God. When we see him on the other side. But when we get to heaven will still be creatures will still be finite and we will not have even in heaven, a capacity to grasp fully the infinitude of God will know far more than we know now, but there will still be elements of mystery about him in heaven. No, the mysterious nature of something does not vitiate its reality. If that's were the case, modern science would collapse by its own weight. There are still prizes being held out there for somebody who can unwrap completely what gravities and are still ongoing disputes about the actual nature of motion and of time and of concepts that we use every single day and yet there are elements about these ideas that remain hidden from our understanding mysterious to us. If I can use something of a crass analogy. I don't even understand the rudiments of electricity. But I do understand that there is such a thing, and I understand that if the light goes off at my house. The first Amadou this check the switch and I went to turn the switch and if I turn the switch on the light still doesn't come on. The next thing I need to do is check the light bulb and a light bulb isn't broken, then I'm going to check the fuse box out in the garage and at that doesn't work I'm going to call the electrician because of exhausted my understanding of how these things work. By the first three steps that I have taken. There are many things in this world, particularly in the world of science that honestly they remained mysterious to me now. There are also many things that are mysteries to me that are not mysteries to other persons, people who have learned and have gained a certain expertise in various arenas where I haven't and so their level of mystery with respect to their discipline differs significantly from mine.

I don't understand medicine the way a physician understands medicine. I don't understand biology the way a microbiologist understands it and so again there are people who find all kinds of mysteries about Christianity. The theologians have unraveled and that there are answers to questions people have who have not studied these things in any depth. And so I hope that I'm not just a bundle of mysteries walking around spreading more mystery where there was none. Previously, however, I never yet met a person who understands all there is to know about biology or others to know about physics or others know about astronomy were all there is to know about theology.

We believe that there is much yet to be learned about the things of God that we do not presently understand that there is a progressive unfolding for our understanding from God himself.

The word mystery comes from the Greek word used a real and it is in some ways a favorite word for the apostle Paul.

Paul is fond of speaking of mysteries and for him. A mystery is not a detective story the way he uses mystery is to describe something that once was hidden and concealed, but now is made manifest and revealed for example. It was not clear in the Old Testament that when the Redeemer would come, he would create a church out of his body, including not just Jewish people, but all the diverse nations and ethnic groups from the Gentile community. And so Paul talks about that which once was hidden that which once was a mystery, is now revealed in the New Testament through the work of Christ in their many such things that were hidden to the Old Testament saints, which are then made manifest in the teaching of the New Testament know that does not mean that the New Testament therefore reveals all mysteries there is still more to be revealed. As I said when we get to heaven.

Now the question is this how does the term mystery relate to the term contradiction or the term paradox.

I think the most important point we have here is the contradiction and the mystery. Both of these concepts have something crucial in common and what they have in common is on intelligibility. Well, even that's not a good way to describe it but at least a present lack of understanding if I say to you this piece of chalk is not a piece of chalk that is I use a contradictory statement about this truck one of you learned about this truck. Nothing because my statement is contradictory and because it's contradictory. It is an intelligible if I remind you earlier on the course. I talked about how logic was set forth and defined by Aristotle in the ancient world and some people like to think that Aristotle invented logic and I reminded you that he no more invented logic than Columbus invented America all that Aristotle did was set forth the rules. The laws that were already functioning that govern and measure the relationship among propositions or among statements and even though Aristotle studied several different sciences, the argued that logic itself was not a science but was if you recall, the Organon or the instrument for all science. He said you have to have logic in order to understand anything in order to understand biology in order to understand chemistry in order to understand astronomy and in fact, historically, logic is one half of the scientific method. The other half is inductive.

Were you gathered data bits and new experiments and so on.

In the laboratory, but the moment you try to make sense out of your data. You step into the realm of deduction which now involves you in the process of logical thought and what our Aristotle was saying is that logic, in particular the law contradiction is a necessary prerequisite for meaningful discourse that is for intelligible communication.

If I say this truck is not chalk. I must listing her go BVD because I'm making a nonsense that is so you see, when I say this piece of chalk is not a piece of chalk you don't understand anything coherent from that. So you could say all I don't understand what Dr. Spruill met this morning he was speaking in mysteries to the point of contact. I mystery something I don't understand contradiction. Something I don't understand, so they must be the same thing that they have these points in common. You don't understand a contradiction you know why because a contradiction is inherently unintelligible, even Einstein can't understand a contradiction only said even stronger.

Even God can't understand a contradiction because contradictions are by their very nature on understandable their unintelligible not a mystery. On the other hand refers to something that now I don't understand, but may be something I can understand if given more information so that we may discover certain things in science that then we say Eureka, or will I have found that which I didn't understand before bingo. Now we can see because we have new information and that's what propels science forward all the time gaining new information that shrinks the margin of mystery is what is the task of science with the science. Me. The word means knowledge and mystery points to the lack of knowledge or the absence of so the more knowledge we have the smaller the margin of mystery becomes, although sometimes the more knowledge we have, the more mysteries we become aware of that were previously we were not aware of. And so in that sense, new knowledge may open up the margin in the opposite direction. But let's not confuse these things because mystery is a legitimate element of knowledge and of the pursuit of truth that should provoke a response of humility within us as we stand before things we don't know and don't understand.

We cannot delete from that to using mystery as a license to embrace contradictions and that's what happens. People say all this is a contradiction. That's okay. I don't understand it but give me some more knowledge give me some more information and will be able to unravel it to know if it's a real contradiction. Not only will you not be able to unravel it today.

What Bill unravel tomorrow or the day after anytime if you have eternity to examine it and you can all the knowledge in the world and I can unravel a bona fide contradiction and that's why it's critical for us to understand the difference because Christianity admits to mystery does not admit and then is an important distinction if we are to effectively talk to skeptics about the truth of Scripture, we must be able to see the difference between mystery and contradiction all week euro and Renewing Your Mind.

We been pleased to feature Dr. RC Sproul series defending your faith. It's our great privilege indeed our duty to defend the faith. The apostle Peter said as much when he exhorted us to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us would like to send you this series there are 32 messages and when you give a donation of any amount to leader ministries will be glad to send it your way.

If you'd like to make a request online or web address is Renewing Your or you can simply call us at 800-435-4343. You may find it studying a topic like this that with a friend or family member can help motivate and inspire you. Let me encourage you to check out polygamy or connect that's our online discipleship, community unified interactive courses from Dr. Spruill along with Sinclair Ferguson, Stephen Lawson and others in defending your faith, the series were featuring this week is one of the courses that we offer. You can find out more by going to God is use men to passionately defend and destroy Christian faith.

Throughout history, and were going to meet one of those men next week, a man who fought the tides of 20th century liberalism in the church.

I hope you enjoyed is beginning Monday for Dr. Robert Guthrie series, a survey of church history

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