A certain kind of tension is essential to the Christian faith. This tension exists between counter forces such as the work of faith and the work of grace. It is our nature to seek relief for the tension. Nevertheless, when we force a release on either side of the equation, we move towards theological distortion.
So in a sense, the problem is deeper than our theology; it is a problem with our mental construct. One’s construct must be nuanced enough to live with the tension.
Much of the distortion in pop theology comes from our attempt to relieve tension. For example, in the New Testament there is a tension between ever-present joy and a near-constant suffering.
Although “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” we also must “take up the Cross daily.”
The Gospel is often “sold” as a benefits package that guarantees financial prosperity and personal success. This is a travesty. But the root of this travesty is difficult to perceive. In part, it is caused by our intrinsic desire to resolve the tension, to embrace only one side of the equation.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still maintain the ability to function.”