God is really big. And by really big I mean unfathomably huge and complex and nothing that our minds could ever comprehend. Sometimes I feel like Christians put God in the box of their views. There are some things in the Bible that simply are hard to understand... For example, why was David God's beloved when his marital status was more like that of the Mormons? Why does God say that he "desires all to be saved" yet all are not saved? How can three people be totally different people and totally the same at the same time (I speak of the Trinity)? How can Jesus be fully God and fully man? And don't even get me started on baptism!
Christians put God in their box by assuming that God has revealed the "correct" answer to all of these questions to us. The fact is, quite a bit of scripture is subjective. People will have different interpretations of different passages. We don't understand everything about the Bible and the way God works.
For a long time I was very confused about the topic of election. It's a very confusing and almost contradictory subject. How can we be held accountable for sin that we have been willed by God to commit? That doesn't sound like a "just" God to me! Also, if God is the one "willing" things to happen, how can he say that he "desires all people to be saved and reach the knowledge of the truth"? To me it looks like he must not "desire" it too much! I mean, he's the guy writing the story!
When I explained my quagmire to our pastor at our old church in San Diego, he said something very profound which I will never forget. He said, "I believe that sometimes we have to hold parallel truths when we are dealing with tricky subjects in the Bible. I believe that the Bible teaches that we have free will, and I also believe that the Bible teaches that God is perfectly sovereign." I absolutely agree with him. The Bible teaches that we are given free will. The Bible also clearly states that God is sovereign. How those fit together, he has not revealed to us in cut & dry, clear ways.
I'm not saying we need to naively accept everything that seems to contradict itself. I have struggled with the concept of election for long enough that I now have a personal opinion of how this works. Struggle with issues. Try to wrap your mind around them. But, ALWAYS GO BACK TO SCRIPTURE with your ideas of how these parallel truths might fit together. If you don't go back to scripture with your ideas you can end up creating frighteningly unbiblical ideas. For example, at a recent bible study where we were grappling with the verse that speaks of God desiring all to be saved (1 Timothy 2) someone stated that "God can't save everyone because wouldn't be just if he saved everyone." This statement took me aback. This could not be farther from the truth. Christ's atonement took the price of the WHOLE WORLD's sins! Not just God's elect. However, some choose not to accept it. If the whole world were to accept Christ his blood would cover all and God WOULD NOT be unjust. These are the dangerous things that we can come up with when we don't take our analysis of how parallel truths fit together back to scripture.
The best part about holding onto parallel truths keeps us from putting God in the box of our subjective views. Reformers put God in a box when they say that the gifts ended after the Pentecost and anyone who disagree's is wrong. Charismatics put God in a box when they say the gifts didn't end after the Pentecost. The truth is, there is evidence for both sides. We have to hold the truths of the passages supporting both sides and choose for ourselves the best interpretation of scripture.
There will always be disagreements in the church over the interpretation scriptures. . It's not wrong for us to have our own views as to the interpretation of these verses but we cannot be so arrogant to believe that we have these passages perfectly figured out and that anyone who disagrees with us is wrong. God is bigger than us and we don't have him figured out perfectly. Hold onto parallel truths.