Book Review: The Grand Paradox

In his second book, The Grand Paradox, Ken Wytsma provides readers with the opportunity to face their doubts and fears while finding the reassurance needed to dive deeper into relationship with the Imago Dei. Finding a balance between the messiness of life and the mysteriousness of God, Wytsma summarizes that, “faith is often characterized less by clarity than by confusion. (xx)” As he continues to write, Ken allows the reader to ask questions often faced by Christians in this messy world. Some of the questions include (7):
• Do we have the wrong definition of faith? (Chapter 3)
• I have doubts…does that mean I don’t have faith? (Chapter 7)
• What is God calling me, personally, to do? (Chapter 8 & 9)
These questions, amongst others, provide the backbone for examining the Christian life lived amongst the messiness and the mysteriousness of God. This paradox “is learning to ‘live the questions’ faith engenders. (13)” The ability to survive a life of faith with one’s faith in tact seems to be getting more difficult, yet this catch-22 can lead to wrestling with God’s plan for one’s life.
From this point of discussion, Wytsma continues to build on the definition of faith with the ideology that faith is perplexing, unreasonable, and scary, yet it requires a blind leap to trust. (41) “A common theme in the Old and New Testaments is that ‘the just shall live by faith’. (53)” Wytsma answers, “if we are not looking out for ourselves, then we have to trust that God is looking out for us. (53)” This creates the paradox found later through addressing doubt.
The paradox between faith and doubt is a complex structure that many pastors today believe should not be within the person of faith. In The Grand Paradox, Wytsma identifies two types of doubt: honest doubt and stupid doubt. (65) Honest doubts begin when we:
• Encounter the complexity of the universe
• Confront evil in the world
• Feel lost or broken
• Can’t find God
In the end, doubt creates a need for answers, but the answers rarely provide the needed reasoning; another paradox that Wytsma goes on to answer in depth in later chapters.
Throughout The Grand Paradox, there are tremendous resources for those who struggle within their faith, those who have little faith, and those who are strong in their faith. As a book written by a pastor, college president, and conference founder the candor that Wytsma writes with provides for the right atmosphere to allow one’s doubts and fears to marinade in the correct responses. This book is the perfect resource for the strong of faith, and a needed resource for those who struggle to comprehend their place in God.