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The teachings of the Bible normally come in groups of two. Sometimes they may be mentioned together in the same context; at other times they aren't. But either way, they never conflict with each other. People may misunderstand and misrepresent one, and (as a result) distort the other - perhaps unintentionally - until they appear to form a "contradiction." But if accepted "as is," and undistorted, the two truths need each other. They complement each other, rather than contradict each other. [Note the difference between the word "complement" (something that completes, or goes along with something else, a counterpart) and a "compliment" (an expression of approval, admiration or praise)!]
These truths are like the parallel rails of a train track: both are needed, or the train will crash. They are like fences on either side of a narrow path, keeping the traveler from wandering astray. When people stop keeping the truths parallel, and try to bring them together as one, the two truths "crash." When people take away one of the "fences," there is no limit (at least in one direction) in how far they can stray from the truth.
It is not our nature to view these truths as parallel. Normally, we focus on one and (inadvertently) de-emphasize, distort or deny the other. As a result, we go astray without ever knowing it. Furthermore, the absence of the one truth creates a "vacuum" or "void," into which error can creep. Many false teachings have started with something that was true, but the proponent of the teaching had a one-sided focus on that one truth, and neglected its complement.
This issue is the cause of many conflicts among people. When one person focuses on the one truth and another person focuses on the other truth, it results in serious irreconcilable disagreement. People often become hostile enemies, when, if each had started with a focus on both truths, they could have become close friends.
First of all, don't just "apply" this principle, if the only reason is because you read about it in an article. Look in the Bible and find out for yourself whether or not this principle is true. Your perspective about the truth (God's Word) should be based on the truth itself, not on what someone tells you to believe.
If your studies lead you to this same conclusion, you will probably agree with these two observations:
When others have taken sides in an argument, each focusing on only one of the truths, the person who accepts both truths, will often find himself in partial agreement with people on both sides, yet at the same time in partial disagreement with them. He will discover that he does not fit in either group.
Normally, the people who have taken sides in such an argument will be unable to comprehend the perspective of the person who accepts both truths. Because of this, they will not accept him when he tries to emphasize both. At one point, they may claim that he supports their view; yet at other times they will claim he holds to the views of the opposing side. (It all depends on which aspect of truth they hear him expressing at that moment.) Sometimes both sides may claim that he is on their "side" - or they may both reject him. They may accuse him of saying things he never said - especially if they think he is expressing their opponents' view. (They may falsely accuse him of saying things that they wrongly believe are the "logical conclusions" of what he said.) If they hear him express both complementary truths at the same time, both sides may simply dismiss what he says, claiming that he is being "inconsistent"!
When we find ourselves opposed by seemingly everyone, we may be tempted to compromise, for the sake of acceptance into one group or the other. But we need to remind ourselves that the Day of Justice will come, and we will all stand before the Judge of the universe. The One we will be standing before at that time is the only one we really need acceptance from. So instead of compromise, we need to maintain our integrity and remain faithful to him, his Word, and everything that pertains to the "reality" that God created!
Dennis Hinks © 1997, 2004
As far as I can tell, all truths have complements. This would be consistent with the nature of creation, which itself reflects the nature of God.
The nature of God? Remember that Scripture describes God in two complementary ways - as both "unity" (one) and at the same time, "plurality" (three). People sometimes use the word "trinity" to describe this - though at the same time, many people misunderstand the full significance of that word.
In the article, "The 'Boundaries' of Truth," I say that "probably" all truths have complements, simply because I haven't examined 100% of all truths! So far, I have not found any that don't have complements.
If you examine the articles on this website, you will see that many of them illustrate how this principle "works." There are many issues, which people argue about, and people on each side quote Scripture to "back up" their perspective. But what they don't seem to understand is the fact that both sets of verses are present in the Bible! If we would be willing to admit that both sets of verses are present, and would stop using one set of verses to "interpret" the other set (each side of the argument starting with the opposite set of verses), we might come to a real point of agreement!
When dealing with topics that people argue over, the articles on this website attempt to focus on that "point of agreement" which is able to accept all the verses. This includes topics that people frequently argue about, such as articles about God's sovereignty vs. human responsibility, the role of God vs. people in salvation, the "trinity," etc. But even with topics that are rarely a cause for disagreements, this concept will often be evident.
Dennis Hinks © 2004