Skip to main content

A Confusing Contradiction

“By every standard we know, saving one, the God of the Bible is a confusing contradiction to Himself.” – Oswald Chambers*
A startling remark. Isn’t God the same yesterday, today and tomorrow? Yet the God who told Abraham to kill his son, later gave the command, “Thou shall not murder.” He told Hosea to marry a prostitute despite his law against adultery. When Jesus sent out the 70, he told them nothing would hurt them, yet later he warned his disciples that they would be killed. Paul advised the Corinthians to bear injustices brought against them but when he faced Festus, he appealed to Caesar.

What does Chambers consider the one standard by which God is not contradictory to himself?
...the standard of personal responsibility to God on the basis of personal character [where]...decisions are made on the basis of personal character in its responsibility to God. The blunder of the saint lies in saying, "Because I decide thus in this crisis, therefore that is the rule for all.’ Nonsense!
I find this a curious stance from someone who wrote a hundred years ago. In a day where people define truth by what seems best to them, many of us today cling to the concept of Absolute Truth. Is there such a thing or does the idea of Absolute Truth keep God in a box as dangerous as a theology that conforms to whatever a person desires?

Chamber writes:
As soon as the gates of the head are closed on our experiences we limit God, and by sealing our minds we limit our growth and the possibility of graduating in Divine guidance.
Have I sealed my mind? Am I thus limiting my growth? I have observed a great range of things that people claim to be experiences with God. Some have been very bizarre. I’ve also noticed a tendency amongst many Christians to rise in fear when they see or hear of unusual manifestations or practices that are claimed to be of God. “It is of the devil!” some declare. Is it truly? Because the same accusation was hurled at Jesus, it seems prudent to be cautious with such statements.

Chambers says:
If I allow that God teaches me to walk in His will, I shall allow my neighbour, whom I love as myself, the same certainty, although his way may seem so different.
Can I do this? Jesus warns us against wolves that masquerade as shepherds. If I “allow my neighbour...the same certainty,” how do I distinguish the difference?

Chambers quotes Professor W. James (American philosopher, psychologist and teacher who lived from 1842 to 1919):
...the problem how to discriminate between such messages and experiences...has always been a difficult one to solve, needing all the sagacity and experience of the best directors of conscience. In the end it had to come to our Imperialist Criterion. "By their fruits ye shall know them," not by their roots.... Our practice [what we do] is the only sure evidence, even to ourselves, that we are genuine Christians.
I remember when the “Toronto Blessing” began to be talked about. I was enormously skeptical. People falling down by the touch of God? It was a ludicrous thought to someone (me) who had been raised to believe that speaking in tongues was of the devil. I was curious, however, and searched diligently to learn all I could. Then one day a friend told me how she had gone, also curious but skeptical, to see this thing for herself. She spoke of the scorn she felt for those who were falling over, moved by the hysteria of the moment. And then she fell--touched by the hand of God, she said--and her doubt disappeared. While on the ground, she met God in a new and radical way.

I knew this woman. She and her husband were pillars in our non-charismatic church, solid people without a whiff of mystical nonsense. What she told me gave me reason to re-evaluate my stance on the matter but I still doubted. As I watched her in the subsequent weeks and months, however, I saw a dramatic change in who she was. She was walking with God in a way she never had before, with an intimacy unfamiliar to me. The fruit of her experience convinced me that she indeed had met God in this strange manner.

Does that mean that all who fall over do so because of the touch of God? No. There will always be those who mimic the real for reasons of their own and Satan is forever creating counterfeits. On the other hand, it is important that we do not limit God by our own experiences and theology or seal our minds against the unfamiliar and unknown—easy things to do because they feel safe.

Father, you are the God of the unexpected, the One who breaks all moulds I try to pour you into. You are the same yesterday, today and forever but who you are is beyond my comprehension, you are too big for me. You are too big for any box I may create for you with my doctrine and theology. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew the Scriptures intimately but too many missed recognizing you because of the theological boxes they had built. I don’t want to be like that, God. I want to be open to whatever you choose to tell me or show me. I want to keep my mind open to whatever possibilities you might bring my way. Help me to do this, Lord, and help me too, to realize that what you show others, you may not show me; that you walk with each of us in unique ways tailored to who you made us to be. Thank you, Father. So be it.

* All quotes from "Christian Disciplines, Volume I” in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers. p. 269, 270.


Popular posts from this blog

Monogamous, Homosexual Unions--My Position and the Story behind it

I've been asked to be one of two participants at church each representing opposing views on the matter of monogamous, homosexual unions, moderated by the pastor.  In preparation, I have written the following.  In the comments, please do not post any vitriol--from either side. If I think any comment is hateful, I will delete it. Respectful disagreement or questions are welcome, however.

My Position and Values:
I believe that sexual relations between two people of the same sex is contrary to God’s will.I would like to say otherwise but I find nothing in Scripture that allows me to do so.BEING homosexual, having a longing or desire for someone of the same sex, is not condemned in the Bible.  We all have desires that are contrary to God’s will.  The sin occurs when we feed those desires, like Jesus talks about when he calls lust adultery (Matthew 5:28).Much cruelty to LGBTQ people has happened because of the stance of the Church. We have not acted with love, compassion and listening ear…

About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

What Is Separating me from the Promise?

This is the question Andy Wood asked us each to consider this morning at the end of his sermon and it hit me like a thunderbolt.

Imagine the Jordan River on the eve of the Israelites crossing it into the Promised Land.  The river was at flood stage, so it was moving quickly (even the Red River here in Winnipeg moves quickly during flood season) but this particular stretch of the river near Jericho is narrower than the rest so that as the rushing flood waters reached the point where the people were waiting--all two million of them--it became even more turbulent.  Anyone who's witnessed a flood knows that it doesn't just carry water; there is debris like fallen trees, parts of sheds and houses and perhaps even animals unable to escape the river's grab.

Back in the days of Abraham, God had promised the land of Canaan to him and his descendants but during the days of Abraham's great-grandson, Joseph, the whole family had moved out of the Promised Land to Egypt because of f…