I experienced the same dilemma when confronted with the nature of the world. Is the world essentially evil, fallen, and sinful? Or is it essentially good, redeemed, and sinless? The same holds true for immanence and transcendence. Is God inside or outside the world? As I pondered these questions, I once again found myself favoring the existence of both, but favoring both seems paradoxical and contradictory – a massive example of having your cake and eating it, too. Nevertheless, I have always felt intuitively comfortable within this inherent paradox, so much so that I very much doubt I could survive without it.
Nikolai Berdyaev also found comfort in the paradox I described above. In his book The Meaning of the Creative Act he explicitly states that the two contradictory sides are necessary for it is within them and the paradox they create that the final mystery of Christianity is to be found. The following selection of excerpts from The Meaning of the Creative Act present Berdyaev's views this seeming paradox. (Bold added by me.)
I know that I may be accused of a basic contradiction which tears apart all my sense of the world, all my world outlook. I shall be accused of the contradiction of combining an extreme religious dualism with an extreme religious monism. I accept such attacks in advance. I confess an almost Manichean dualism. So be it. The world is evil, it is without God and not created by Him. We must go out of the world, overcome it completely: the world must be consumed, it is of the nature of Ahriman. Freedom from the world is the pathos of this book. There is an objective source of evil, against which we must wage heroic war. The necessity of the given world and the given world are of Ahriman.
Over and against this stands freedom in the spirit, life in divine love, life in the Pleroma. And I also confess an almost pantheistic monism. The world is divine in its very nature. Man is, by his nature, divine. The world process is self-revelation of Divinity, it is taking place within Divinity. God is immanent in the world and in Man. The world and Man are immanent in God. There is no dualism of divine and extra-divine nature, of God’s absolute transcendence of the world and man.
I am entirely conscious of this antinomy of dualism and monism, and I accept it as insurmountable in consciousness and inevitable in religious life. Religious consciousness is essentially antinomic. In our consciousness, there is no escape from the eternal antinomy of transcendent and immanent, of monism and dualism. This antinomy cannot be abolished, neither in conscience nor in reason, but in religious life, in the depth of the religious experience itself. Religious consciousness experiences the world to the fullest extent, both as completely apart from God and as fully divine, experience evil both as falling away from divine reason, and as having an immanent meaning in the process of the world’s development.
A transcendent attitude towards God and towards evil are inevitable in religious experience. But equally inevitable in religious life is the attainment of the immanent truth and the immanent experience of God and the world. And in the final depths, every mystic experience passes beyond all the opposition between the transcendent and the immanent.
This kind of radical, revolutionary, implacable dualism leads to the final monism of divine life, to the divinity of man. This is the whole mystery of Christianity. Through the heroic dualism, through the contrast of the divine and “the world” man enters into the monism of Divine Life. Everything in the world must be lifted on the Cross. Thus, the divine development is realized, the divine creativity. Everything external becomes something inward. And the whole world is my way.
This antinomy is given in religious experience. Only childishly-immature, simple, frightened consciousness is afraid of this antinomy: it is always dreaming of some idealization and justification of evil in the immanent-monistic thesis of antinomy.
The final human mystery is the birth of God in man. The last mystery of God is the birth of man in God. And this mystery is the one and only mystery: for not only has man need of God, but God has need of man. In this lies the mystery of Christ, the mystery of the God-man.