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Paradoxes and dichotomies

Some fundamental theological paradoxes seem interrelated. The transcendence of God and how he can also be personal and involved in the world. Creation ex nihilo rather than via emanation (an old non-Christian belief that the physical universe was a sort of physical cast-off or stuff that came out of God's being). The nature versus grace dichotomy, which Francis Schaeffer notes has been problematic in Western intellectual history. The creation of humans in imago dei, or human essence, versus original sin and human nature. Reconciling religious rationality and objective theology with personal spirituality, mysticism and awe, without degenerating into religious rationalism or into unbiblical subjectivism or superstition. Biblical inspiration of human writers and the canon. And the dual nature of Christ as God and man.

These all involve the interaction of the divine and the created, the trancendent reality beyond the physical universe interacting with people and the created world. These are all complex problems that we can't really wrap our minds around, but the most approachable is the best starting point, the duality of Christ, since Scripture has much to say on this. I think then that this is the best starting point, for it shows how God could become unified with humanity and matter, part of his creation from which he is normally transcendent and separate.

One's theology of christology will affect how one answers these questions. Whether one holds to dyphysitism as Protestants and Catholics do (i.e., that Christ has distinct human and divine natures) lead to different answers than with miaphysitism (a single fused human-divine nature) of some parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church, with its greater emphasis on religious mysticism. I don't think it's a coincidence that the rejection of the kenosis by rationalistic Protestants cohabits with difficulties in reconciling these issues in practicing spirituality (e.g., rejecting mystical expressions of faith) and unhealthy religious rationalism and religious superficiality. And heterodox views like monophysitism (Christ with a single nature only) will lead to strange views, such as gnostic influenced ideas of emanation, the non-eternality of Christ, and the Arian belief in people attaining godlike status.


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