Paradox Lost Book Review
When asked about the Christian faith or the Bible one of the most common answers is Jesus. Paradox, on the other hand, little to none. There are many paradoxes concerning many different topics inside them. Robert P. Hansen writes about a few of these in his book, Paradox Lost: Rediscovering the Mystery of God. In this book, he uses a variety of different examples to describe both the types of paradoxes and paradoxes themselves, to help introduce the idea to his audience.
Robert P. Hansen is a pastor and former professor in Ethiopia. He is the author of several articles for different journals. He wrote Paradox Lost as an oracle in sermonic tone. This makes sense because of his history as a professor and pastor. He uses a table of context in beginning of the book to show the chapters inside each of the five sections. He then adds a table inside chapter to show which paradoxes fit inside which of the three paradoxical categories. He uses this table to help show the examples and where they fit in this book
In Paradox Lost examples where one of the main ways that help the reader understand the concept of these paradoxes. He provides examples for the three types of paradoxes, a picture frame, tuning fork, and an auger. He describes the first type of paradox as a picture frame, “Picture Frame: reframes reality as we look through it” (22). The second is the tuning fork, “Tuning Fork: both tines must vibrate together to create a new note” (22). The third is the auger, “Auger: performs best when hands are far apart on opposite handles” (22). Each of the three types have example paradoxes to help understand the God and the Bible more.
Each example of the three types has an example of their own to help explain one of the many paradoxes in found in the Bible and the faith. In the picture frame, it contains the paradoxes of sayings of Jesus, kingdom parables, great reversals, and faith versus works. In chapter 5, Hansen describes the way Jesus’ saying are like how the German approached the Maginot Line in France. This examples is to how Jesus talked about the bad things in a different way. In chapter 12 the decision on who chooses first in the relationship with God is visualized with a captain of a ship and lighthouse. God is the lighthouse and the person the captain. He uses this illustration to help present how the relationship comes to be. Hansen goes on to described the Trinity, in chapter 17, with dancers to explain how the Trinity is one, but separate at the same time. All these examples one purpose that to help explain our relationship with God through deeper understanding.
Hansen does a fairly decent job describing the paradoxes and their types throughout the book. While some of the examples were really easy to help make the connect, others could have either better explained or use a different example. When Hansen describes the first type of paradox with the picture frame, that is a very good example. When someone goes to look at a picture frame they open a window to a memory and a hope for a future. The first type of paradox goes to describe the paradox of how Jesus helps open a window to memories of a past self and hope for future in God’s kingdom. The tuning fork is used to help describe the second type paradox found where those types deal with our relationship with God. On page 22 Hansen describes that in order to have the right note both tines must be present even though they are opposite. That is what the relationship with God is like, in order for that note of salvation God both the person and God have to be present in each other for it to work. The auger is the example for the third type, the example was really great, but it could be really hard to understand if someone does not know what an auger is to begin with. Hansen described the auger type paradoxes as being far apart to perform perfectly. If the hands are not far apart and opposite it will not work, which is what these paradoxes are trying to say. When Hansen explains the paradox about how Jesus tells people the bad he uses the Maginot Line. “Sometimes we need to find a detour around the Maginot Line” (49), that is what Jesus did he did not go out and say the bad right away. He found a different approach to telling judgement, like the Germans did around the Maginot Line. This example helped make a better understanding on how Jesus approaches his people about telling his news both good and bad. Hansen goes to explain how the paradox of “who chooses who” by a captain and a lighthouse, “I am the captain of the ship, but God is the lighthouse” (95). Hansen is trying to show the audience that people have free will within God’s plan. People control their lives with their decision, but God helps direct them to him with his light. Since people are the captain they can choose to follow the light or not, deciding their ultimate fate. Many people do not understand the paradox of the trinity. Hansen tries to explain like this, “Dancers become one in the dance, even as they retain their individual identities” (137). Hansen describes the trinity with two people, which can be harder to see the one becoming two. He could have made this example by going bigger, like an orchestra or band. In the Trinity God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have their individual places, just how each member has their own part to play. When the music begins each member playing creates one musical pieces, while containing their individualities. It is the same way with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they are all one God, but with their own individuality. Hansen overall does a great job explaining the beginning of these paradoxes, but it is up to the person to above and beyond to understand them even more.
Hansen uses many examples throughout his book to explain the paradoxes in the Bible and Christian faith. While most were great, some of them could have been better. With the help of these examples he opens up the ability to go above and beyond in our knowledge of God. While people will never know everything about God, Robert P. Hansen helps bring the people one step closer. It is up to the people themselves though to follow his example and take that step above and beyond.