You may be familiar with Schrodinger’s Cat paradox. Basically a situation is set up in which a cat could be killed by some James Bond Dr. Evil device, or not. You can see a little interactive explanation over here. The superscience bit of it says that while inside the room (or bag, or whatever) the cat is actually both alive and dead. It’s only once it’s outside of the bag that it is one or the other.
Now, you could say that’s entirely theoretical, in reality the cat’s never both alive and dead, and that’s fair enough. But let’s just grab a couple of Bible passages.
the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face (Exodus 33:11)
‘But,’ [God] said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.’ (Exodus 33:20)
If these were two different, fallible accounts of the same conversation you could quite easily conclude any of the following:
- One of the accounts is right, one is wrong.
- Both accounts are wrong, the true answer’s somewhere in the middle.
- Both accounts could theoretically be true, but in reality we know that can’t be the case.
But here, we’re dealing with the infallible Word of God, so the conclusion we must draw is that both accounts must be true, not only theoretically, but in reality. This makes sense actually – these two statements happen within a couple of paragraphs of one another; the author would have to properly be thinking of something else to make that daft a mistake.
So what’s the answer? There are different interpretations of this, and any could be right, but I like to go with the thought that God’s so incredible and beyond our puny fallen understanding that it’s perfectly possible for both to be totally true about him. In fact, God being God, you’d expect something like this to come up – it’s more a surprise that we can understand anything about God at all!
And this sort of thing happens in the Bible all the time. Is God fully in control, or do humans have free will? Well, both are fully true. We’ll not understand quite a lot of God until we arrive home but until then we can be joyful in the ‘ sure and steadfast anchor of the soul’! (Hebrews 6:19)