“……I don’t think the important thing is to be certain about answers nearly as much as being serious about the questions.
When we hold spiritual questions, we meet and reckon with our contradictions, with our own dilemmas; and we invariably arrive at a turning point where we either evade God or meet God. Mere answers close down the necessary struggle too quickly, too glibly, and too easily.
When we hang on the horns of dilemmas with Christ—between perfect consistency and necessary contradictions—we find ourself in the unique place I call “liminal space.” Reality has a cruciform shape to it then—and we are taught best at the intersection of order and disorder, where God alone can make sense out of the situation and we must surrender. All real transformation of persons takes place when we’re inside of such liminal space—with plenty of questions that are open to God and grace and growth.
God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. It’s a paradox. I am increasingly convinced that all true spirituality has the character of paradox to it, precisely because it is always holding together the whole of reality, which is always “Both/And.” Everything except God is both attractive and non-attractive, light and darkness, passing and eternal, life and death. There are really no exceptions.
A paradox is something that appears to be a contradiction, but from another perspective is not a contradiction at all. Paradox admits that every profound truth is countered by another, and usually less flattering, profound truth.
You and I are living paradoxes, which everybody except ourselves sees. If you can hold and forgive the contradictions within yourself, you can normally do it everywhere else, too.
Jesus is giving us a win-win worldview (which is why it is called Good News!), but what the ego invariably does with the Gospel is make it into a win-lose game. That’s the only way the dualistic mind can think. You’re either in or you’re out. It defines itself largely by what it is not. The mystical or non-dual mind is alone capable of win-win.
Yet we don’t know how to include, how to forgive, how to pour mercy and compassion and patience upon events as God apparently does. Augustine of Hippo, a man filled with contradictions, was a master at holding those contradictions within himself and before God. He describes the power and simultaneously the deep powerlessness of true God experience. Faith absolutely knows and yet it does not know at all—and is content with this! Thus true believers are very humble and yet quietly confident in the same moment.
When Christianity aligns itself with power (and the mindset of power, which is the need to be right and certain one is right) there’s simply very little room for the darkness of faith; that spacious place where God is actually able to form us.
So when we speak of paradox, I’m trying to open up that space where you can “fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), because YOU are not in control and only God is right. That is always the space of powerlessness, vulnerability, and letting go. Faith happens in that wonderful place, and hardly ever when we have all the power and can hold no paradoxes. Thus you see why faith will invariably be a minority and suspect position.