Black Swans and the Mystery

Justin Johnson

Black swans exist. I have seen one.

It only takes one to prove not all swans are white.

This old lesson in logic shows the disrupting nature of a single swan of a different color to a history of observing only white swans.

Dispensational Bible study recognizes differences like these in the Bible, and makes the necessary divisions.

The other approach to the Bible is to treat it as if God says and does the same thing throughout (all swans are white). This idea of “sameness” can lead to doctrinal enigmas and errors in application.

“If God did it before, he will do it again today.”

“God does the same thing yesterday, today, and forever” (a misquote of Hebrews 13:8).

The result of treating the Bible as always talking about the same thing causes confused Christianity and a Bible (and a God) that does not work.

Paul: the Black Swan

Mid-Acts dispensational right division notes a difference with Paul. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to the apostle Paul a mystery kept secret since the world began (Rom 16:25).

God had revealed many things before concerning Israel, prophecy, salvation, and the kingdom. We can call these white swans.

The revelation of the mystery was a black swan in the course of Bible history filled with white swans.

It only takes one black swan to show that not all swans are white.

Nevertheless, in response to mid-Acts right division, lists of similarities are given as if to show that the difference does not exist.

Paul and Peter taught the same thing here… and here…and here.
Paul and the prophets taught the same thing here… and here… and here.
This swan is white, and this swan is white, and this swan is white…

What about the black swan standing over there?

To observers of white swans it is irrelevant because they see so many white swans, and have always seen white swans. Black swans must not exist.

The Mystery: A Black Swan Event?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a book describing unexpected events that change history. He called them black swan events.

These events have three criteria:

  1. They are unanticipated or unexpected events
  2. The event results in a major change, likely to the course of history
  3. In hindsight the event is explained away as just another white swan that could have been foreseen.

In a sense, the Lord’s revelation of the mystery to Paul was such an event.

It was entirely unexpected (nor could it have been by men), because it was kept secret, hid in God, since the world began (Eph 3:9, Rom 16:25).

It changed the course of history for the next two thousand years as God changed his intervention from being with Israel to a new creature called the church.

In hindsight, theologians and observers of white swans say that the mystery information in Paul’s epistles was just another part of prophecy that could have been foreseen.

They say it was not really a black swan, because every other swan seen since the world began had been white. What God was doing before was predictable by prophetic revelation.

Who could account for God’s revealing hidden wisdom from before the world that would change the world forever? Certainly not the princes of the world (1 Cor 2:7-10).

It only takes one black swan to show that not all swans are white.

When these differences are exposed by mid-Acts dispensational truth, they are rejected by listing similarities in the Bible as if the similarities make the black swan go away.

“All swans are white. See! Here are hundreds of them!”

There are many things that are the same throughout the Bible, but it is the things that are different that matter most in understanding God’s will.

Mid-Acts dispensational right division points to the black swan of the mystery of Christ revealed first to Paul. It exists no matter how many white swans are counted.

It only takes one difference to show that not all things are the same.

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Published: August 2, 2014
Last Modified: April 14, 2018
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