When I see contradictory or conflicting passages or themes in the New Testament, does it signal a puzzle?
If A and B differ, does that mean that I should struggle to merge them to form A + B? Or struggle to make A=B?
Make it A or B?
Not either? Maybe C?
If the writers of the New Testament wanted us to stretch our minds a little bit, maybe there are indeed puzzles in it.
Is it valid to compare verses in different books/letters to work a puzzle? Why not? We read these together today. Maybe they did, too. Paul says in Romans 2:16 and 16:25, “my gospel.” What gospel is that? Something contemporary to him? He also uses “our gospel.” In what sense does it belong to him?
I’ll admit it is possible there are no puzzles, no hidden meanings in the New Testament. Maybe if we try hard enough, everything can be made to fit so that every single passage can be taken very literally. But my view is that the New Testament is supposed to supplement our own spiritual journey and be a guide, not unyielding dogma that would rule out such a journey.