Certain “tensions” occur in Scripture, which while uncomfortable, are nevertheless part and parcel of dealing with revealed truth.
In almost every case that I can think of, such tensions tend toward producing two diametrically opposed camps – who err either on one side of the issue or the other. Maintaining the revealed tension seems too great to bear for some. Some examples of these might be:
Was Jesus fully man OR fully God? If you require this question to be answered in precise antithetical (either/or) terms, you will end up either denying the deity of Christ, or His humanity. One must embrace the tension of a “both/and” dynamic in this case, or lose the glory of the revealed truth altogether.
Was the Scripture authored by men, or is it the product of the out-breathing of God?
Is God three, or is He one?
Now don’t get this wrong, in that there ARE many clear antitheses in Scripture. Evil is not both good and evil – it is evil. One must put their trust in Christ alone for salvation, or one cannot be saved. Scripture contains both absolute antithesis AND places of tension which must be maintained. The careful student of the Bible must inevitably wrestle with how to properly interpret both species of statements. A view of Scripture which allows for no true antitheses and sees everything as to be understood in a both/and dynamic, robs the Word of God asserting any real, absolute truth. Likewise, a view of Scripture which denies any tensions and interprets everything in a strict either/or construct, must inevitably err where a tension is required. Extremes will be the result.
While on the other hand, tension in the right place – produces more strength.
I would argue that the 2 verses cited above give us one more example of needing to keep our tensions in place, while not ignoring proper antitheses.
Whatever else we make of the Divine mysteries of election and predestination – this statement of intent still stands: John’s mission was to bear witness “that ALL might believe through him.” We must allow this inspired tension to remain.
Has God sovereignly elected those who will in fact become heirs of salvation in Christ? Unquestionably. And yet, is John sent as a witness to all, with the intent that all might believe? Unquestionably. Is this contradictory, so that we must deny either this fact, or that of sovereign election? No. They both stand as is in God’s economy so that we might truly tell each and every one that it is God’s intent they believe and be saved. Yet so is it true that only the Elect WILL believe and be saved.
So be it. Let God stand above our ability to sort it out with our fallen logic.