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5th February
written by Jeffrey Long

These are three examples of apparent contradictions in scripture taken from Hans Denck’s “Paradoxa,” 1526. [1. This is a footnote]

The seventh
a) I am not come to judge the world but to save the world [John 12:47]
b). For judgement I came into the world [John 9:39]

The eighth
a). If I testify on my own behalf that testimony is not true [John 5:31]
b). If I testify in my own behalf that testimony is true [John 8:14]

The eleventh
a). For who can resist his will? [Romans 9:19]
b). You have always resisted the Holy Spirit. [Acts 7:51]

Following is a translation of the work. I was very taken with this document when I attended the Associated Mennonite Seminary in the 90′s taking the class “Intro to Anabaptist History and Theology.” On the surface, it could be interpreted as a treatise on relativism, but more importantly, it is testament to the importance of diligence in reconciling contradictions rather then looking them over and relying on the Holy Spirit in interpretation.The following explanation is given in my copy, though I don’t know the source to be able to annotate it properly.”It is an attempt of the Reformer to demonstrate the higher spiritual unity which must be discovered if one is to understand Scripture aright and find in it the genuine path on which to walk…It provides an interesting key to Denck’s Scripture principle. Quotations taken out of their context without any explanation whatever suggest a rather superficial treatment of Scripture. Many of the “opposites” prove not to be such, it the excerpted passages are seen in their own context. Obviously a text without commentary may readily be taken in evidence for one view or another.The scripture passages cited by Denck have been rendered into English in a form as close to the German original as possible, in order to preserve the vivid and forceful juxtaposition of antithetical pairs he intended.” Note that some of the scriptures given are from the books known to Protestants today as the Apocrypha. I have kept them here because they are representative of the scriptures considered authoritative by the Anabaptists. For more on the Anabaptists use of the Apocrypha, there is an article you can read at the Mennonite Church USA archives website.

*********************One who truly loves the truth may hereby test the soundness of his faith so that no one should exalt himself but know instead from whom one might ask and receive wisdom.

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. [Proverbs 1:7]

Hans Denck

Brothers, we read and hear that many sects and so-called heresies (to speak without malice) had grown up in days gone by. Some of these are partly growing up again in our day. Indeed, among any twenty scholars of one party, one will hardly find two who agree with each other in all aspects of doctrin. This would never be the case if one were to heed the only true teacher, the Holy Spirit. Scripture gives clear testimony of his teaching. But this happens in such a way that it appears to be contradictory in many places to any who are not sealed by the spirit of God. This is fully evident in certain sects in which everyone defends his own case, one quarreling with the other on the basis of certain parts of Scripture. There is no regard for the fact that the opponent’s Scripture is the truth, too.Now if we are to find the ground of truth, these [parts] must be seen together, compared and reconciled with each other. As long as we fail to do this, there will be no end of quarreling. Two opposites [gegenschrifft] must both be true. But one is contained in the other, as the lesser is in the greater, time in eternity, finitude in infinity. One who leaves antitheses without reconciling them lacks the ground of truth.How blessed we would be were we to recognize how little we actually have. We would then bemoan our poverty and hunger after the bread of life, namely, the Christ of God, our Father. He has sufficient for all wants, but tends to give to the hungry only. For this reason then I have gathered these opposites (we could have found a great many more in Scripture) so that — god willing — they may serve to enrich his own people. Amen.Here then are forty opposites.

The First:
a). Who knows the mind of the Lord [Romans 11:34]
b). He has made known to us the mystery of his will [Ephesians 1:9]

The second:
a). Without him was not anything made. [John 1:3]
b). Pride was not made for humanking. [Ecclesiasticus 10:18]

The third
a). God did not make death. [Wisdom 1:13]
b). Fire and hail, famine and death, all these were created for vengence. [Ecclesiasticus 39:2

The fourth
a). Whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out. [John 5:37]
b). It does not depend on human will or effort, but on God’s mercy [Romans 9:16]

The fifth
a). You abhor none of the things which you made. [Wisdom 11:24]b). Jacob I loved; Esau I hate [Romans 9:13]

The sixth
a). God did not repent of his gift and grace. [Romans 11:29]
b). I repent of having made Saul king [1Samuel 15:11]

The seventh
a) I am not come to judge the world but to save the world [John 12:47]
b). For judgement I came into the world [John 9:39]

The eighth
a). If I testify on my own behalf that testimony is not true [John 5:31]
b). If I testify in my own behalf that testimony is true [John 8:14]

The ninth
a). I can do nothing of myself [John 5:19]
b). No one takes my life from me; but I give it of myself [John 10:18]

The tenth
a). Those whom he called he also justified [Romans 8:30]
b). Many are called; few are chosen [Matthew 20:16]

The eleventh
a). For who can resist his will? [Romans 9:19]
b). You have always resisted the Holy Spirit. [Acts 7:51]

The twelfth
a). Everyone who asks, receives [Matthew 7:8]
b). You ask, but you receive nothing. [James 4:3]

The thirteenth
a). God is no respecter of persons [Romans 2:11]
b). Whom shall I look upon but the poor and the broken in spirit [Isaiah 66:2]

The fourteenth
a). Preach the Gospel to all creatures [Mark 16:15]
b). Do not throw pearls to the pigs [Matthew 7:6]

The fifteenth
a). By one suffering he has perfected all those who are sanctified [Hebrews 10:14]
b). I complete in my flesh the full tale of Christ’s afflictions for his body’s sake [Colossians 1:24]

The sixteenth
a). I will not be angry forever [Jeremiah 3:12]
b). And these will go to eternal punishment. [Matthew 25:46]

The seventeenth
a). God wills that all humankind should be saved. [1Timothy 2:4]
b). Few are chosen [Matthew 20:16]

The eighteenth
a). God does not tempt anyone [James 1:13]
b). God tempted Abraham [Geneses 22:1]

The nineteenth
a). Thou art not a God who is pleased by evil. [Psalm 5:4-5]
b). He hardens whomever he will. [Romans 9:18]

The twentieth
a). His tender mercy is over all creatures. [Psalm 145:9]
b). To whom he will, he is gracious. [Romans 9:18]

The twenty-first
a). The broken reed he shall not crush [Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20]
b). You shall shatter them like a potter’s dish [Psalm 2:9]

The twenty-second
a). No one has seen God. [John 1:18]
b). I have seen the Lord, face to face. [Genesis 32:31]

The twenty-third
a). Whoever drinks of the water which I shall give, will never again thirst. [John 4:14]
b). Whoever drinks me will still thirst. [Ecclesiasticus 24:21]

The twenty-fourth
a). Whoever overcomes, I shall grant to sit with me on the throne [Revelations 3:21]
b). It is not in my power to grant to you who shall sit at my right, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared. [Mark 10:40]

The twenty-fifth
a). Judge not so that you will not be judged. [Matthew 7:1]
b). Judge justly. [John 7:24]

The twenty-sixth
a). In Christ shall all be made alive. [1Corinthians 15:22]
b). The Son gives life to whom he wills. [John 5:21]

The twenty-seventh
a). God has put all under unbelief in order to show mercy to all. [Romans 11:32]
b). Whoever does not believe shall be condemned. [Mark 16:16]

The twenty-eight
a). This is my body. [Matthew 26:26]
b). If they say this is Christ, do not believe them. [Matthew 24:23]

The twenty-ninth
a). I will be with you until the end of the world. [Matthew 28:20]
b). Me you do not always have with you. [Matthew 26:11]

The thirtiethh /ra).
a). All he wants, he has done. [Psalm 115:3]
b). You have always resisted the Holy Spirit. [Acts 11:30]

The thirty-first
a). He is himself the atonement for our sin; not for our sins only but for the sins of all the world. [1John 2:2]
b). I do not pray for the world. [John 17:9]

The thirty-second
a). It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. [Matthew 19:24]
b). My yoke is easy and my burden is light. [Matthew 11:30]

The thirty-third
a). The bars of the earth have encased me forever. [Jonah 2:6]
b). Then God spoke to the fish and it spewed Jonah onto dry land. [Jonah 2:10]

The thirty-fourth
a). To the just no law has been given [1Timothy 1:9]
b). Whoever conforms to my statutes and observes my laws and walks in truth is righteous. [Ezra 18:9]

The thirty-fifth
a). The law entered so that sin may increase. [Romans 5:20]
b). God has commanded no one to be wicked, nor has he given license to commit sin. [Ecclesiasticus 15:10]

The thirty-sixth
a). For it hereby comes about that the former law is annulled on account of its weakness and uselessness. [Hebrews 7:18]
b). Do we cancel the Law through faith? Far be that from us. Rather, we set up the Law. [Romans 3:31]

The thirty-seventh
a). With whatever measure your measure it shall be measured for you. [Matthew 7:2]
b). Double for her the strength of the potion she mixed. [Revelations 18:6]

The thirty-eighth
a). I am God and there is no other. I bring forth light and create darkness, I give peace and cause evil. [Isaiah 45:7]
b). When the devil tells a lie he speaks his own language. [John 8:44]

The thirty-ninth
a). Why do you provoke God by laying upon the shoulders of these disciples a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear? [Acts 15:10]
b). The commandment which I give you is neither too strange nor too far off. It is not in heaven that you should say, “Who will go and fetch it for us that we may hear and do it? etc. [Deuteronomy 30:11, 12]

The fortieth
a). I desire to harden Pharoah’s heart says God. [Exodus 4:21]
b). Pharoah hardens his own heart. [Exodus 8:15; 9:34]

To the Reader:The prophet Isaiah says in the twenty-ninth chapter, “and the vision of all this (that is, everything which points to God) has become to you like the words of a sealed book. Give it to a scholar and bid him read it and he will say that he does not know it by heart. Give it to an ignorant person and he will say, “I cannot read” [Isaiah 29:11f]

This prophecy has already been fulfilled in our own day. We can easily test this in above and similar statements. For we understand the mysteries of God even less than an ignorant animal. One who cannot read should go with full confidence to the only teacher who instructs all learned doctors. He alone has the key to this book which contains all the treasures of wisdom.O Lord, give whatever you will to whomever you will. Amen.Their folly will be plain to all. [2Timothy 3:9]

Hans Denck, 1526