Paradoxology: Why Christianity Was Never Meant to Be Simple, By Krish Kandiah alt


Why Christianity Was Never Meant to Be Simple

by Krish Kandiah

  • Length: 320 pages
  • Published: January 14, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 9772
  • ISBN: 9780830897728

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It seems that the God of the Christian faith is full of paradoxes:

  • a compassionate God who sanctions genocide
  • an all-powerful God who allows horrific suffering
  • a God who owns everything yet demands so much from his followers
  • a God who is distant and yet present at the same time

Many of us have big questions about God that the Christian faith seems to leave unanswered, so we push them to the back of our minds for fear of destabilizing our beliefs. But leaving these questions unexamined is neither healthy for us nor honoring to God. Rather than shying away from the difficult questions, we need to face them head on.

What if the tension between apparently opposing doctrines is exactly where faith comes alive? What if this ancient faith has survived so long not in spite of but precisely because of these apparent contradictions? What if it is in the difficult parts of the Bible that God is most clearly revealed?

In his new book Paradoxology Krish Kandiah makes a bold new claim: that the paradoxes that seem like they ought to undermine belief are actually the heart of our vibrant faith, and it is only by continually wrestling with them—rather than trying to pin them down or push them away—that we can really move forward, individually and together.

"Let's be honest: we all have questions about life, God, and the Scriptures. If you're looking for a book that provides answers in a perfectly packaged and simplistic manner, it's probably best that you pass on this book. But if you're looking for a resource that gives permission, space, and grace to engage many of those deeper questions, this book is truly a gift. Krish Kandiah's Paradoxology is honest, sincere, theologically robust, and biblically engaging. A Christian spirituality that leaves no room for doubts, questions, and messiness will inevitably lead to challenging consequences. A false illusion of faith and discipleship sets people up for epic failures, bouts with disillusionment, and, at times, a slow but sinking spiral into cynicism. Read this book. Engage your questions. Grow in your faith."

Eugene Cho, pastor and humanitarian, author of Overrated

"Read this book, and you'll be concerned and comforted. You'll question and doubt—and believe more deeply than ever. You'll despair at times . . . and hope like never before. In short, you'll be doing the best Christian theology, which takes you to places dark and mysterious and to vistas bursting with light and beauty, often both at the same time. That's what it means to live by paradox, where the deepest truths lie."

Mark Galli, editor, Christianity Today

"Apologetics in a postmodern world is looking less for historical proof, scientific demonstration, and systematic omniscience. Rather, it is looking for honest, open, and genuine probings that have less certitude while holding firm to belief in a good God who loves us but who has not created a world where everything ends up with happy emojis. Krish Kandiah explores here the genuine paradoxes of the Bible in an open and honest manner. Paradoxology will bless a new generation with a new kind of apologetics."

Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary

"Being able to live within the tensions created by paradox is one of the most essential capacities for true spiritual deepening and growth. So to have an entire book devoted to reflecting on the reality that the life of faith is full of paradox, to acknowledge some of the most confounding ones, and then learn how to be with God in the midst of them—wow! What a gift! I am most grateful for this offering that clearly emerges from Krish Kandiah's honest wrestling with the great paradoxes of life."

Ruth Haley Barton, founder and CEO, Transforming Center, author of Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership and Life Together in Christ

"Paradoxology is one of the most straightforward and honest books I have read on the inherent tension of faith. Krish's seminal work leads us deeper into faith not by erasing doubt or the awkwardness of trust, but by moving us through it—as was the experience of the prophets of old, and as is the witness of Scripture. Paradoxology has a clean structure that should make it easily accessible for churches, small groups, and book clubs, which is good, because this book deserves a wide reading."

Ken Wytsma, president of Kilns College, author of Pursuing Justice and Create vs. Copy

"As I read this book I thought, I wish I had this book when I was in college—when I was studying theology and wrestling with life's challenges. As I continued to read I realized that a book like this is always timely because the more difficult biblical narratives are still there, and our life and faith will always present us with challenges. Krish Kandiah has given us a valuable treasure in his new book. Rich in theology, warmth, and honesty, Paradoxology offers a safe place to explore and engage tough questions."

Jo Saxton, chair of the board, 3D Movements

"Following Jesus is a paradox: Christianity asks its followers to place their total faith in a 'personal friend and savior' who is likely to be quite 'silent' for most of that follower's remaining time on earth. Any normal person, Christian or not, would wonder how to keep these kinds of tensions in balance. Paradoxology shows that these tensions—even apparent contradictions—actually provide texture and truth to Christianity. After reading Paradoxology you may think that some of the doubts and contradictions you were so certain disproved Christianity were a result of seeing the world in two dimensions, rather than the robust 3D nature of the gospel."

David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, author of unChristian and You Lost Me

"In a complex, unpredictable world, we yearn for simplicity and easy answers. Christianity can become a safe haven for many who just want to pull their boat into a port and enjoy life. In Paradoxology, Krish Kandiah dispels that myth with biblical clarity. God is God, and we are invited into a journey with Christ, out in the wild deep where the Spirit is moving across the waters. This book is for pastors and spiritual leaders, Christ-followers and seekers who truly wonder about the character of God and the nature of faith. Kandiah proposes a biblical way to construct a sturdier boat and a truer spiritual journey."

MaryKate Morse, author of A Guidebook to Prayer and Making Room for Leadership

"This is a book that dares to ask the questions we seldom voice, even to ourselves. We believe in a loving God yet see suffering on a global scale. We believe in a powerful God yet see unfettered injustice everywhere. Krish dares to bring all we see and all we believe together. It's a powerful work of unshakable faith."

Sheila Walsh, author, cohost of LIFE Today

"With theological wisdom, a storyteller's craft, and, most importantly, a pastoral hand, Krish Kandiah shows the reader that Christianity's paradoxes do not refute faith. Rather, when cherished and contemplated, they lead us into the ever-deepening mystery of God's love."

Mark Sayers, senior pastor, Red Church, Melbourne, Australia, author of Disappearing Church

"We have always believed that all our greatest truths (the Trinity, the Incarnation, predestination and free will, good and evil) are in the end paradoxical and invite us into mystery and propel us to worship. Here is highly readable book from a very credible voice in British Christianity about engaging paradox. What's not to like?"

Alan Hirsch, author, founder of Forge Mission Training Network

"In Paradoxology, Krish Kandiah explores some of the most fascinating characters in the Scriptures, specifically highlighting some of the paradoxes in their lives. He treats difficult issues with grace and humility, handling the texts well and explaining theological truths clearly."

Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair, Wheaton College

"Jesus didn't write books about theology or church doctrine; he spent his life telling stories. Why? Because stories are the most powerful way to share a message that triggers questions, starts conversations, and changes lives. That's why Krish Kandiah's book Paradoxology is so powerful and timely. If we could recapture this incredible idea, it would transform the way we connect with and engage today's culture."

Phil Cooke, filmmaker, media consultant, author of Unique

"Anyone who has ever found themselves uncomfortable with the tensions of Christian faith and life should read this book. If God is loving, why this terminal diagnosis? If the Spirit lives in me, why do I continue to struggle with sin? Kandiah offers a listening ear, space for reflection, and a guided walk through Scripture to begin to come to terms with these paradoxes."

Stephanie Christianson, Mennonite Brethren Herald, October 2, 2017


The Preface (paradox)
1. The Abraham Paradox:
The God who needs nothing but asks for everything

2. The Moses Paradox:
The God who is far away, so close

3. The Joshua Paradox:
The God who is terribly compassionate

4. The Job Paradox:
The God who is actively inactive

5. The Hosea Paradox:
The God who is faithful to the unfaithful

6. The Habakkuk Paradox:
The God who is consistently unpredictable

7. The Jonah Paradox:
The God who is indiscriminately selective

8. The Esther Paradox:
The God who speaks silently
Interlude at the Border

9. The Jesus Paradox:
The God who is divinely human

10. The Judas Paradox:
The God who determines our free will

11. The Cross Paradox:
The God who wins as he loses

12. The Roman Paradox:
The God who is effectively ineffective

13. The Corinthian Paradox:
The God who fails to disappoint

Epilogue: Living with Paradox


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Krish Kandiah

Krish Kandiah (PhD, Kings College London) is the founder and director of Home for Good, a UK charity finding homes for foster children and young refugees. An international speaker, he teaches regularly at Regent College and Portland Seminary, and is the author of several books, including Paradoxology and Home for Good. Krish is the vice president of Tearfund, a Christian relief and development agency. He lives with his wife, Miriam, and their seven birth, adopted, and foster children.