Mar 252015
 

angry-godIt seems like the most popular current complaint about God is that at times He’s not always acted “lovingly” in the redemptive history.

How could a “God of love ” (fill in the blank with some OT atrocity)?

The answer is simple but wildly unpopular.

Love isn’t the only attribute of God.

It’s debatable if it’s even the primary attribute as a God who is complete in all virtues cannot be said to be primarily any one thing.

The attribute He most often self identifies with Himself is “holy”.

“When Scripture calls God, or individual persons of the Godhead, “holy” (as it often does: Lev. 11:44- 45; Josh. 24:19; Isa. 2:2; Ps. 99:9; Isa. 1:4; 6:3; 41:14, 16, 20; 57:15; Ezek. 39:7; Amos 4:2; John 17:11; Acts 5:3-4, 32; Rev. 15:4), the word signifies everything about God that sets him apart from us and makes him an object of awe, adoration, and dread to us. It covers all aspects of his transcendent greatness and moral perfection and thus is an attribute of all his attributes, pointing to the “Godness” of God at every point. Every facet of God’s nature and every aspect of his character may properly be spoken of as holy, just because it is his. The core of the concept, however, is God’s purity, which cannot tolerate any form of sin (Hab. 1:13) and thus calls sinners to constant self-abasement in his presence (Isa. 6:5).”

Packer, J. I. (2001-02-01). Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (p. 43). Tyndale House Pub. Kindle Edition.

Holiness has no current cultural traction and a God who is holy and demands holiness can’t get any good press.

We want to recreate God in our own image…just nicer.

The problem is that God hates sin and we are sinners and sinners for the most part enjoy sin.

God is set apart…completely pure and utterly holy.

Therefore, all these anthropomorphic idols collapse and burn at the place of holiness.

The problem is that unless you understand the holiness of God and His utter hatred of sin, you simply cannot understand why only Jesus could atone for our sins and the incredible sacrifice and grace He has given.

Why did He wipe out the Canaanites?

“Justice, which means doing in all circumstances things that are right, is one expression of God’s holiness. God displays his justice as legislator and judge, and also as promise-keeper and pardoner of sin. His moral law, requiring behavior that matches his own, is “holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). He judges justly, according to actual desert (Gen. 18:25; Pss. 7:11; 96:13; Acts 17:31). His “wrath,” that is, his active judicial hostility to sin, is wholly just in its manifestations (Rom. 2:5-16), and his particular “judgments” (retributive punishments) are glorious and praiseworthy (Rev. 16:5, 7; 19:1-4). Whenever God fulfills his covenant commitment by acting to save his people, it is a gesture of “righteousness,” that is, justice (Isa. 51:5-6; 56:1; 63:1; 1 John 1:9). When God justifies sinners through faith in Christ, he does so on the basis of justice done, that is, the punishment of our sins in the person of Christ our substitute; thus the form taken by his justifying mercy shows him to be utterly and totally just (Rom. 3:25-26), and our justification itself is shown to be judicially justified.” Packer, J. I.

They deserved it, that’s why.

So do we…so thank God for Jesus.

 

 

  185 Responses to “Love Ain’t All God Is”

  1. Good job Michael. I have always told people that God (even though He does) doesn’t need to give us an explanation, and if He did, they might not accept the answer.

    I have raised 8 children, and they had problems with my reasoning many times. My son used to tell me all the time “There’s no good reason!”. So I stopped giving him one. 😉

  2. OH! FIRST!

  3. Bob,

    Thanks.

    We forget that God is God and we’re not… 🙂

  4. “They deserved it, that’s why.”

    Can’t argue with that.

  5. I like the Judas Priest album cover!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_It_Down

  6. OK, I just witnessed a FIRST! MLD can’t argue with something that was said. 🙂 Turn in your stick.

  7. Bob, think of my amazement 😉

  8. Yep, I agree with this, too.

  9. so many things that we can’t really get our mind around: sin (we like to think they are lapses of will power or mistakes, not a condition), holy (every time i declare “hallowed be Thy Name” i confess to not grasping the full meaning of that term, holy), i don’t even understand God’s hate… i know it’s not like my ‘hate’ – mine is an emotion that mostly ebbs and flows…
    good ponders, Michael – thank you

  10. This well written. I agree. One thing, though, I have difficulty wrapping my mind around is that all of us are guilty. Six billion out of six billion are guilty. So doesn’t that indict the Creator as much as His creation? None of us signed up for this. We were born into this. So we plead for mercy and grace (which I am profoundly grateful for and receive through Christ). Yet we plead from a guilt we were and are destined for through no fault of our own. Thanks for letting me think out loud.

  11. Neo, that is almost like a variation on the question of brining a child into the world when you think that it is a rotten no good place to live in. My first daughter was just born a few weeks ago, and there are a multitude of things about this world that we live in that scare the heck out of me, it is not the world that I would have chosen to bring her into, but my only other choice would have been to not bring her into being.

    Especially now that I am caring for her and getting to know her… I could never make that decision.

    That is also oe of the powerful things about Job cursing the day of his birth. We see a man that had been so richly blessed by God come under such suffering that he would undo his own existence.

    No answers there, I don’t think, but thanks for pointing me down the rabbit trail.

  12. neo,

    Wrong.
    We sin both by nature and by choice.
    The “no fault of our own” clause don’t cut it.

    The Creator created perfection…we chose our fate as represented in Adam.

  13. Sobering reminder. At the same time, what amazing grace through Jesus. Wow.

  14. Yeah. Okay. Forget that part about my saying thank you for allowing me to think out loud. I am sorry I did….

  15. If you expect to think out loud without a response then you’ll probably always be sorry you posted here.

    Conversation in the real world involves more than one person thinking out loud.

  16. Unless all you want is an audience……

  17. Neo,
    We have to remember that “in Adam we all sinned”. We would have sinned just like Adam if we were given the chance (and do)- he was just the first.

    No problem with thinkin’ out loud…

  18. I don’t struggle anymore with the concept of His Holiness vs. our wickedness. Where I struggle is how in light of His Holiness and my wickedness that He would send His Son to atone for my sins. Expiation, Propiation & total forgiveness are things that I can’t wrap my head around.

    Packer nails it.

  19. oops, propitiation not Propiation 🙂

  20. Yep. All I want is an audience. I’m dying for one.

  21. Papias. Thanks. I have some further responses to that.

  22. I’ve posted these lyrics before, but since we are on the subject of the Justice of God:

    “I’ve taken my look around
    And all I’ve seen leads me to believe
    That if I was God,
    Heaven would be nearly empty
    And Hell would be overflowing.

    So thank God that I’m not God,
    And praise Him for being nothing like me.
    I would have forsaken man.
    So praise Him for being nothing like me,
    ‘Cause I would have let this world burn.

    If I was God, I would do unto you things unthinkable,
    Far beyond cruel and unusual.

    So thank God that I’m not God,
    And praise Him for being nothing like me.
    I would have forsaken man.
    So praise Him for being nothing like me.

    For those who ask,
    He gives His grace kindly.
    His forgiveness is beyond me.
    I would have let this world burn.
    And even to the most perverted man,
    And even to the most wretched man,
    His glory and mercy is given.”

    Sinai Beach – “The God I Would Be”

  23. I have never been squeamish about the judgments of God… but your article is spot on in that it has become more necessary to defend God in the eyes of man than to find a defense for man from God.

    The justification of God has become a larger subject than the justification of man… It is a time that will pass but never has there been more christian universalism than there is just now and never has there been more sloppy theology given with cocksure arrogance… so it seems.

    The holy love of God was the endless mantra of P T Forsyth who is difficult for most people to read … as it was for me until I just kept reading and the rewards are worthwhile

    Here is his Justification of God

    https://cruciality.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/justification-of-god-nc.pdf

    All of Forsyth’s books are downloadable and WORTH IT.

  24. No, there is a big philosophical dilemma with that premise.

    God cannot be both Love and Wrath/Justice.

    God is Love. –the bible.

    Everything that Love is…is in direct contradiction to everything Wrath and Justice are.

    But, as a human being, I understand the need for Justice and Wrath…b/c I am human and I don’t want to be abused and for the abuser to get away with it. That is a normal human reaction…but not something a deity would have, unless the deity has human characteristics…or human characteristics are the deity.

  25. I am actually ok without the whole born in sin thing… one thing is sure we all found our way into sin without much provocation … 7 billion plus out of 7 billion plus…

  26. It is much more likely that “God” is Spirit…and that he is described by different Groups in different ways…depending on what that particular Group’s reflection of their own spirit portrays.

    In OT times the spirit (little s) of that age was very barbaric. It was “eye for an eye” and women, children and slaves were second class citizens and considered property etc. Men were the ones in total power and abuses abounded and were justified by the “god” of the OT and the god concepts of the other cultures of that time. Very barbaric, not “loving” at all.

    In the NT things progress a little culturally…and then Jesus comes on the scene and turns everything upside down. While some say he affirmed the OT, we don’t really know that for sure…we know that some ancient manuscripts that have been copied and recopied and recopied and revised etc say that.

    We know that Jesus likely existed…thanks to the gospel accounts and to extant sources like Josephus and Tacitus etc.

    We probably have some Jesus’s words. We have some idea of what he did and what he said and we have some of the words from some who spent time with him.

    But, God is Spirit. God is not the text on the pages of books. God never intended the bible to be such an idol.

    Jesus is Love….or Jesus is Wrath and Justice. The bible does present a competing narrative at times.

    That Jesus died for the sins of “all” and not just for some who did some quid pro quo to avoid the wrath and justice…tells me Jesus is Love.

  27. Real love demands righteousness and justice (the two are biblically inseparable).
    Holiness requires purity in all things.

    Man was made in the image of God…so we share certain traits with God.

  28. Alex,

    One has a choice.
    They let God define Himself or they define a God they wish to serve.

    God defines Himself in scripture as holy, righteous, just loving, long suffering, merciful, wrathful, and a host of other attributes.

    That’s the God I worship…making one up means I’m only worshipping myself.

  29. But, if God is more a reflection of us humans…then God is Wrath/Justice.

    I am not God and I want wrath/justice when I am wronged or abused or someone doesn’t believe in me etc…..though I would never torture them perpetually in a fiery hell forever with no end.

  30. “They let God define Himself or they define a God they wish to serve.”

    Every Group of the 9,000 to 30,000 denominations and mainlines defines their particular version of God for themselves….with a little bit of agreement on some key doctrines…but even that agreement often breaks down when scrutinized.

  31. Again, how do you know you are saved? How do you know for sure? What must you do to be saved?

    Those questions when answered and then scrutinized reveals the many nuances between each and every Group ….and their particular version of “God”

  32. The End Game is always “well, it’s a mystery, I don’t know”

    …and that is the truth.

  33. Nakedly encountering Jesus … that is where the matter lies… move the discussion in a Christological framework and it always sharpens, clarifies

  34. Alex,
    “God cannot be both Love and Wrath/Justice.”

    Why not? I think you are using your own insufficient definitions.

    I can love and cause pain and disability to the same object at the same time – why can’t God?

  35. Alex,
    “The End Game is always “well, it’s a mystery, I don’t know”

    Why is it a mystery to you? Jesus made a promise to save you. Accept his promise and move on. This is not rocket science –

  36. BD,

    Very good point on the Christology.

    It strikes me as very odd that people don’t see the cross for what it was…a very, violent horrific, death.

    God required this of Himself…and because of that, wrath is no longer an issue.
    It must have been a hell of a problem beforehand.

  37. #24 – love is an attribute – it produces action…
    wrath is not an attribute, it is an action… in the interest of clear thinking here today

  38. God is Love.

    But as someone famously said, “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is….”

  39. God is love…is an incomplete sentence.

  40. “God is love…is an incomplete sentence.”

    Fulfillment of the law? The greatest command?

    Love.

    Again, the canonized bible presents a dual narrative.

    In one breath “God is Love…Greatest Commandment and Fulfillment of the Law is Love”

    In another breath…God is the opposite of what the bible also describes as what Love and what Love is not.

  41. Alex,

    Stop talking for a moment about your philosophical/theological objections to so many things. Stop for a moment talking about your critical capacities to deconstruct. Talk us about the reality of Jesus in your personal experience. In all that you have deconstructed what remains of Jesus for you personally? Serious question and deferring is optional.

  42. “what love is and what love is not” above.

    You have to do a lot of dancing around to resolve the clear description of what Love is and is not…and then you have to dance around the greatest commandments and fulfillment of the law and the part that states rather explicitly that “God is Love”

    It’s irreconcilable which is why there is such broad divergence doctrinally/theologically when pointing to the text on the pages (depending on which version you choose) as “God”…instead of relying on your Conscience and Reason in synergy with God as Spirit to learn who God really is….and what he is…and what he is not.

  43. someone observed, i think rightly, that it seems inconsistent with justice that we have no say in our creation and yet are held responsible for what we are as a result of it…

    i would love to share my thots on that observation as it is – IMV – resolvable, but to do so puts me in the category of a “Mary Baker Eddy” theologian… suffice it to say that we are not automatons – each of us is very important – beware, however, of self-justification

  44. I don’t believe the Spirit of God is like us humans. I think Jesus was very different than the rest of us. He was willing to defrauded, willing to be abused, willing to be unjustly treated…and instead of demanding justice and wrath…he doubled down and gave up his life for those who abused him.

    Something I couldn’t do…and none of you could do either.

    The Justice and Wrath stuff? Very human.

  45. Alex, I think somewhere along the line you got stuck with a definition of God being some kind of puppy love / infatuation (mushy gooey like when you were in high school) and not a real love.

    Not the kind of love that would allow you to pull the plug on your terminally ill and suffering wife.

  46. MLD, bad analogy once again.

    Pulling the plug on your terminally ill wife is not akin to burning someone in hell forever with no end…or stoning a rebellious child to death…or utterly destroying your enemy including their infants and animals.

    Not even in the same universe….

  47. #44, different than the rest of us?

    yes, but it’s not that simple, Alex, Jesus was a man also and tempted to disobey God.. that the prayer he is quoted as saying, “…..nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done” was a momentary show of strength – or weakness – on his part…

    but that is not a new thought to you, i know

  48. #47 was NOT a momentary….

  49. I’ve had trouble reconciling God’s Wrath and His Love. This talk from Derek Thomas helped me understand a bit better.

    http://michaelnewnham.com/?p=14755

  50. The only thing that might make a bit of logical sense is that God is ‘not’ Wrath and Justice…but God allows Wrath and Justice as a part of the existence of this universe and realm and ultimately in the other realms.

    It very well could be that God “is” Love…Jesus was the personification and example of what true Love looks like including his ultimate sacrifice…but that there is Wrath and Justice as a yin and yang of the Universe both physical and spiritual.

  51. Alex – why not if it is going to prevent a greater evil? – like putting down your beloved dog who has rabies and is attacking your baby. Do you love the dog any less?

    Look, you have the wrath / justice down just fine. You have a non existent definition of what is God’s love. You have no idea outside of a word you listen to in your Jesus is my boyfriend songs.

  52. The other logical position is the Determinist/Fatalistic God who creates some as his children who he “loves” and the vast majority of the rest for his Wrath and Justice and judgment.

    If that’s the case, then OK….but not “love” and not “good” by any universal standard that humans are held to.

  53. Imagine yourself breeding animals.

    You ‘create’ a few that you love and nourish and take care of and protect…and that you “save” from trouble etc.

    Then you ‘create’ a ton more so that you can take out your wrath on them and then torture them forever.

    Good? Love?

    Hard to sell that concept of “God”

  54. The reason God can justly command us to turn the other cheek is that He promises that all injustice done against us will be reckoned with in the age to come.
    There will be no evil act left unjudged.
    A God uninterested in justice would be as evil as one uninterested in mercy.

  55. JoelG,

    I liked that lecture as well…it didnt go over real well here… 🙂

  56. “The only thing that might make a bit of logical sense is that God is ‘not’ Wrath and Justice…but God allows Wrath and Justice …..”
    not bad logic 🙂

    but what if God is the ultimate? the One by whom all things exist? a package best distilled down to one word which we humans can’t fully get our minds around: holy

    the universe is a little further out than my mind goes, but it seems logical to me that everything and everybody is going to get with the plan or get consumed eventually

  57. “A God uninterested in justice would be as evil as one uninterested in mercy.”

    Then how do you explain the Gospel? How do explain the Calvinist position of Determinism?

  58. That is where the Calvinist argument breaks down. If Man does not have true Free Will and is not truly a Moral Free Agent…then God’s Justice and Wrath are not just and not holy.

  59. The Gospel is the good news that God has reconciled us to Him through Christ by grace through faith.

    I don’t try to explain election…I’m sure that God makes good choices for good resons.
    There are things I cannot know…and those lead me to worship, not unending ruminations about things God keeps secret.

  60. “not unending ruminations about things God keeps secret.”

    But that is what all sects do…and what this blog does and pretty much every christian or religious blog does…”unending ruminations about things”…that we really can’t be certain about…yet people build their iron-clad arguments around their iron-clad doctrines and iron-clad theologies which become their God.

  61. #58 is nonsense.
    You would have to know the mind of God to indict Him…and we don’t.
    We do not know the “why” of election.

    God is above all these machinations of logic and philosophy…

  62. Just my opinions. And I’ll clear out so others can have their say.

  63. Michael said…
    “The reason God can justly command us to turn the other cheek is that He promises that all injustice done against us will be reckoned with in the age to come.
    There will be no evil act left unjudged.
    A God uninterested in justice would be as evil as one uninterested in mercy.”
    ————-
    let’s see if THIS gets thru the Moderators eraser…
    I’m interested in whether you still believe God’s Mysterious Decree of whatever happens (for some perfect purpose unknown to us now…)?
    Is God going to punish/judge evil acts that originate from His own decree? If so, who will He ultimately punish when ‘no evilact’ is left unpunished?
    I know… Calvinist Conundrum…
    enjoy the day.
    -mike

  64. I only ask Alex questions so he can put his thoughts together better – but he does an awful job.

    A Lutheran really can’t enter a conversation of theodicy. Even if you were to prevail you have still participated putting God on trial.

  65. It could be just me, but I have never expected God to love me, even like me. I always figured if I got a mild very distant toleration that is better than nothing. The two attributes I really get from God is first, He is really angry at us I mean white hot angry at all of us. I figure some of that say about .0001% of that anger is remediated a bit by the cross, but not much. Of course that view is not what the bible says so my view is extremely skewed but it still affects me, as is made clear with they type of posts I write.

  66. mike,

    It’s not a conundrum at all when you understand that no one has ever been forced to do anything against their will.
    God uses the evil intent of people already present within them to accomplish his will…and yes, he will punish them for doing the evil they chose to do.

  67. MLD,

    No need for insults…this has been a decent conversation.

  68. MLD, you are hilarious. You are a decent guy but you are pretty sloppy most of the time with your arguments and several rungs down the ladder when it comes to hashing out a philosophical issue. You know the basics of your particular Christian sect (or at least the conservative sect) but logic and reason? Not so much. You express everything through an illogical lens and then claim “logic!”…then when pressed you cry “it’s not supposed to be logical!”

  69. Free Willers like Alex and mike mistakenly think that the will is the path to conversion and totally miss that the will is actually the object of conversion.

    Your will does not change your standing with God – but God converts your will to change your standing with God.

  70. Michael – where was my insult?

  71. MLD,

    Well said @69….
    What cracks me up is Mike thinks no one has ever raised these ojections before and I’ll be terrified by his 500 year old revelation …

  72. Alex, “You express everything through an illogical lens and then claim “logic!”…then when pressed you cry “it’s not supposed to be logical!”

    I never claim logic – I claim only truth and truth is not without logic. Logic (in your style), while refusing truth has led to madness in people over the generations.

  73. “free willers” I saw that movie 🙂

  74. “but God converts your will to change your standing with God.”

    If God is “Good” and God is “Love”…then why doesn’t he convert everyone’s will?

  75. …God “can’t” change everyone’s will?

    Human power trumps God’s power to convert the will?

    Still a Free Will position…Human will trumps…

  76. Got sucked back into the convo 🙂

    I’m a little gun-shy to participate too much, I don’t want to get nuked for too many comments/opinions 🙂

  77. yes, there are no new arguments that question the Faith that i’ve ever heard -i wonder if all those who search diligently for them ever wonder if the folk who live by the Faith might not be as close minded and reality denying as they think we are…
    i admit it is hard to concentrate on other “possibilities” and only go there when someone raises one, but that isn’t from a denial of them … the more time i spend examining God as He reveals Himself to the Church, the more i like Him in spite of this life on planet earth -even the phenomenal progress being made by scientific endeavors today are a result of using the gifts God has given man and not a reason to doubt that He is …

  78. #73 – is there a ‘groan’ thing? … oh well, 😆

  79. Cur alii, alii non – Why some and not others?
    The Bible does not address this. We know only what has been revealed to us … and that is something that has not been revealed. I can live with that.

    Alex, you look at God as if you can or should know everything about him. When your dog looks at you, does he know everything about you or does he only know what he can grasp or you reveal?

    Same between you and God … btw, you are the dog in the scenario if you didn’t figure it out? 🙂

  80. dogs make a good analogy… they come in all degrees of cooperation and rebellion and i do agree that to them we are ‘god’ … makes me worry about cats who have no god

  81. “Alex, you look at God as if you can or should know everything about him. When your dog looks at you, does he know everything about you or does he only know what he can grasp or you reveal?”

    Exactly…which is why I embrace “mystery” and state the bible is illogical and doesn’t make sense to a reasonable person….then you state that it is logical and makes sense…then later on (as I noted above) you make this statement and agree that we can’t know God in a certain manner with all our t’s crossed an i’s dotted.

    Thanks for demonstrating exactly what I stated further up the thread 🙂

  82. one thing that i wish every member of the human race knew (they don’t) is that each and every person is an important player in this drama that is unfolding – that we call history – ever single human being from the poor abandoned babies in ditches and dumpsters on up the line to those who think they are in control of nations

    God keep all close, bring you closer tonight than you were last night

  83. Alex, people who make up stuff about other people are called liars.

    I maintain, mystery in the things hidden from us and I maintain clarity in the things revealed to us. That my friend is truth.

    I also have no problem dealing with contradictions in the Bible – but your problem is that you do need all of your Ts crossed and your Is dotted. I am sure there is a religion out there that can accommodate you – Christianity is not it.

  84. “I maintain clarity in the things revealed to us.”

    What has been revealed to you.

    Be more specific. You made the claim, back it up with specificity.

    You will end up doing exactly what I stated above…you will profess all sorts of certainty in many things…things that you really can’t be certain of.

    This is your typical Circular Reasoning in action…

  85. MLD, let’s demonstrate (again):

    How can I be saved? Then, how can I be sure I’m really saved from the wrath to come?

    I need specifics. What must I do or believe?

  86. I know, something about “prosthetic arms” that God gives you to grab a hold of the gift that is free to you.

  87. Ya, THAT is “clarity”…clarity that you are full of $^*&! LOL

  88. Michael,
    You were pretty harsh with Neo but gentle with Alex. I think you hurt Neo’s feelings. I personally believe that annihilationism is correct. Anyone want to bash me over the head for not being Calvinist?

  89. “What has been revealed to you.”

    Whatever is in the Bible – whatever we can see in nature. General and Revealed revelation.

    This is all we have. Deut 29:29 is a pretty key verse that you may wish to commit to memory.

    Time to hit the freeway

  90. I haven’t read through the whole thread yet, but Alex, stop linking wrath and justice together. That might help.

    They are not two sides to the same coin.

    you’re writing them as if they are.

    Justice and Righteousness, not wrath

  91. Wrath-and-Justice-linked-together.

  92. Just b/c you told me not to 🙂

  93. …now comes the WRAAATH! of London 🙂

  94. Alexander,

    First of all. I don’t live on the blog.
    Been very busty this afternoon.
    I don’t think I was harsh with Neo at all.
    As there are only two self professed Calvinists on this forum, Jim and myself, I don’t see anyone beating non Calvinists up.
    Therefore, that was an inane statement.
    That probably hurt your feelers too…

  95. London is correct…wrath and justice are not always inextricably linked.

  96. MLD, enough with the Alex is so stupid vibe. It’s off putting.

  97. Em, your comment about cats having no god was hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

  98. Nobody believes Alex is stupid.

    It is pointless to argue with him or critics from the same school however.
    MLD and myself both believe that the Bible in its entirety is true.
    Alex believes some parts are true and others aren’t, thus the playing field is not level, nor are the objectives for wrestling with the text.
    We also place a heavy value on mystery and faith, which doesn’t play well with logitians.
    That’s why I don’t spend much time arguing with him…we’re really not discussing the same things from the same vantage point.
    It doesn’t offend me, I’ve just got lots of yard work to finish.

  99. Michael, no it didn’t furt my feelers but how would this thread look to unbelievers?

  100. Alexander,

    Who cares?
    That is the lamest Christianize false dilemma there is.

    If said unbeliever had the intelligence of your average rodent they would see a diverse group struggling with common questions about the faith and might actually learn something.

    This “how does it look to unbelievers” crap is simply a way top avoid uncomfortable conversations.

    I believe salvation is a unilateral act of a sovereign God and His will is not effected by bad blogging.

  101. And you shall know them by their love.

  102. Alexander,

    That was the second worst false dilemma.

    How do you show love on a blog?

    Alex knows I love him.
    If MLD and I ever got into a bottle together we’d probably get sloppy about our fondness for each other.

    There are a great many people here that care deeply for each other and still are mature enough to have rousing, contentious debate.

    You have every cliche down pat…

  103. One can disagree without being insulting. I guess that’s the beauty of the internet. One doesn’t have to be afraid of being mean spirited or rude. I promise to say a prayer for you tonight.

  104. Alexander,

    You began your interactions with snark about being beat up for being a non Calvinist.
    Pray for yourself, holy one.

  105. London had a awesome comment about not automatically linking wrath and justice.

  106. Michael, did I hurt your feelers? I apologize if I did.

  107. Nyah Alex, now comes the apathy of London.

    Carry on….

  108. “Alex knows I love him.”

    Yes, I actually do. Michael has shown himself to be a really good friend and pastor. He is one of the few who makes a statement like that…that I actually believe him. He is very forgiving and a good man IMO. In actions, not just in preaching about it.

  109. Thank you Michael.

  110. Alex,

    Thank you…

  111. I want to clarify one thought about Alex’s position. Some may think it is no big deal for Alex to say that parts of the Bible are untrue / false / laden with error however you term it.

    But Alex’s position is that God is wrong, God is unjust, evil and an unjust killer of many – and that if Alex had a vote, he would vote God off the universe … of which he thinks is only one of many multiverse entities.

    If Alex were like Neo and suggesting that he is thinking out loud I could accept that – but Alex is making assertions about the evil nature of God, and I find that troubling.

    Now, that being said, most of the people I know and hang out with hold the exact same view of God as Alex and we can still be friends, go to ballgames, go on pub crawls down at the beach etc … but none of them keep one foot in and claim to be Christian.

  112. “But Alex’s position is that God is wrong, God is unjust, evil and an unjust killer of many”

    No, incorrect, that is a Straw Man of your making.

    My Position is that God is truly Love and that God is Good.

  113. My disagreement is when you describe God as all of those things…saying that God commanded evil and that God justified evil things and called evil things righteous.

    I think those things were man-concocted and not from God.

  114. Divine command theory might answer the desire to let God off the hook for both the evil He himself does in the bible but also the evil others do that michael claims He ‘uses’ for His purposes without being guilty of the acts.
    Last time I checked there were more than a couple of people in prison for hiring people with certain skill sets to kill people for them.
    And Hitler didn’t get a pass because he ordered or allowed others to do his killing for him.
    Michael’s argument to defend Calvin ist Divine Decree doesn’t do any better than Divine Command theory. What ever God does is good and right.
    “Whatever the president does is legal” didn’t help Nixon either
    -mike

  115. mlk “I want to clarify one thought about Alex’s position. Some may think it is no big deal for Alex to say that parts of the Bible are untrue / false / laden with error however you term it.”

    I cant speak for Alex but I can tell you I deeply struggle with some things the Bible says that I am fairly sure are inaccurate, either in our general understanding or in the text itself. Say, the mechanisms and mitigations in how pathogens are spread. The Text seems to offer an explanation for illness be it the fall, sin, testing, punishment, correction, the Glory of God say when the blind man was healed, a testament or validation of the Work and Words of Jesus etc. The mitigations offered in scripture are such prayer, wine, repentance, sacrifice, confession, the prayers of the elders, faith, etc. The Bible says nothing at all about germ theory, vaccines, antibiotics etc. So in a way it is in error or at least the scriptures seem to withhold a key element for the betterment of the human condition.

    I am still trying to figure out how the canon of scripture was infallibly arrived at.

  116. My Position is that God is truly Love and that God is Good.<<<

    Actually, this *is* what Alex has been saying.

    He is of the belief that all the lovable descriptions of God in the Bible are probably true and all the wrathful descriptions of God in the Bible are probably not true. He does not believe all the Bible is true so he is consistent.

  117. Alex does not believe God is an unjust killer of many. He does not believe God (his version of God, anyway) is “guilty” of any of those things. He believes the so-called atrocities of the OT were things the primitive Israelites did on their own and does not blame God for them.

    I don’t agree w/ Alex, but we should state his position correctly.

  118. brian,

    The Bible is a narrative about salvation, not medicine.

  119. Granted but in its application the Bible crosses many lines, medicine happens to be one of those lines.

  120. My doctor has never consulted the Bible to make a diagnoses, nor do I expect him to.
    I do not consult the Bible to learn of anything but Christ.

    To criticize it because it doesn’t mention antibiotics or draft beer or ice hockey seems to be the equivalent of criticizing Apple because it doesn’t sell pears.

  121. Alex denies that God is Good. Earlier when I said that God converts out will, the Alex response was AND I QUOTE;
    “If God is “Good” and God is “Love”…then why doesn’t he convert everyone’s will?”

    Well we know and Alex knows that not everyone’s will is converted – so, as Alex tried to point out “God is NOT Good and God is NOT Love.

    I don’t make this stuff up – these are Alex’s very own accusations against God.

    I will state again, I am not trouble that Alex hold’s this position – I am troubled that he calls himself Christian and that no one else wants call him on it.

  122. It is not a criticism it is an observation, for example mental illness, in some circles in the faith it is seen as a moral or spiritual problem and has been by the church for much of history to some degree. People viewed text in scripture say the gospels where someone acted a certain way and those behaviors were attributed to demons or Satan. When another person manifested similar behaviors but due to another mechanism say seizures or schizophrenia some have said it was the Devil. It was not the text it was the application of the text to a similar situation.

    Your doctor may not, but for most of Church history many did consult the Bible concerning physical miladies and they applied the scriptural remedies to those illnesses. We have discussed these issues on this same blog, especially concerning mental illness. Where the Bible does seem to cross swords with “science” it would be in biology, cosmology, geology, etc. The bible does not mention antibiotics or many other modern mediation but if my understanding is correct to inerrancy, where the bible speaks clear on a subject science or not, our knowledge needs to bow the knee to the clear word of Scripture.

  123. brian,

    I think you’re overstating your case and using the worst abuses of the Scriptures as if we all did likewise.

  124. Not all of us and sometimes one states extremes to try to get at a point, let me go think on how to word it better and I will try to rephrase. Thanks for the dialog.

  125. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to be a self-proclaimed Calvinist. I’m mostly NCT and believe in TULIP

    Good OP, Michael.

  126. And don’t get me started how Alex denies the NT and takes on Jesus’ credibility

  127. Thank you to Xenia for being intellectually honest:

    “Alex does not believe God is an unjust killer of many. He does not believe God (his version of God, anyway) is “guilty” of any of those things. He believes the so-called atrocities of the OT were things the primitive Israelites did on their own and does not blame God for them.

    I don’t agree w/ Alex, but we should state his position correctly.”

    MLD is just playing games as usual.

  128. “It very well could be that God “is” Love.”

    Yes. St. John said so.

    That is where talk of “attributes” gets tricky. It’s doing philosophical theology. It’s good to actively engage in that sometimes, like it’s good to actively engage in speculation, to discover that you’ve been doing both unconsciously. One idea that is popular among theologians is that God is simple. This means something like his attributes, though they can be distinguished, are not in reality separate from each other. When God is displaying one attribute, another is not really left unexpressed. But that is a challenge to prove. We can only guess how that might work. But it’s probably better than the guess that has the attributes acting separate from each other.

  129. I think that meditating on the attributes of God, particularly the incommunicable, can be one of the deepest forms of worship.

  130. I just pointed out that you did question God’s goodness and love in your #74 – and since your defenders seemed to limit the scope to the God o the OT I just pointed out your denial of NT texts and the authority of Jesus.

    Hey, Bill O’Reilly does the same thing – denies all the miracles of Jesus and proclaims him as only a man sent by God as a rebel who never claimed to be God and he too still self identifies as a Christian – so I guess you are in good company.

    As I said, I am not troubled by your position, only that no one else here calls you out.

    Most here have no problem calling out John Shelby Spong or John Dominic Crossan and the rest of the Jesus Seminar as apostates and don’t see it here as anything else but interesting conversation.

  131. “This means something like his attributes, though they can be distinguished, are not in reality separate from each other. When God is displaying one attribute, another is not really left unexpressed.”

    i never heard that – wrong theologians, i guess…

    it isn’t necessary for an attribute to be “expressed” or displayed to be a part of God’s character… attributes of a character which is immutable – God’s attributes don’t come and go

  132. MLD, you are continuing to be intellectually dishonest and not stating my position correctly…it is called Straw Man fallacy. It is commonly employed in politics and religious/philosophical debates but isn’t intellectually honest.

    That’s fine, do your normal thing, it just won’t engender any good constructive discussion.

  133. Personally, I don’t call Alex out because I know he is going through a rough time right now and I’m figuring he doesn’t need any extra grief. (Anyway, he and MLD are a lot smarter than I am and I’d be pummeled if I tried to “argue” with them) 😀

    I know I’m the type that needs to “talk through” issues that I grapple with, and what I start out saying, sometimes, i completely disagree with, by the end of the conversation. For me, it’s a process.

    MLD you are a good wall to bounce things off of and keep the conversation going and I think if you and Alex ever met, face to face, you two would have a great conversation.

    Alex, I’m guessing a lot of people here are continuing to pray for you and wishing you the very best. Just wanted to say that.

  134. I don’t see the straw man – Jesus confirms hell – you deny hell. That my friend is not called a straw man, that is called “a line in the sand.” 😉

  135. I don’t deny hell, I cannot know for sure what hell is and it I cannot be sure that it is perpetual and forever with no end and I cannot be sure it is not a metaphor.

    Do you believe hell is in the center of the earth?

  136. I know that hell gets tossed into the Lake of Fire.

    This is what ‘logic’ does when confronted with truth. It always leads to denial of truth – 100% of the time.

    Jesus said, “this is my body” – logic says, well it can’t be his body because his body (1) was right in front of the disciple and (2) today is locked up in heaven never to leave.
    Therefore, ‘logic’ would propose – Jesus meant this represents or this symbolizes my body (even though the language provides excellent words to say that). So ‘logic’ has determined when Jesus says “this is my body” what he actually is saying is “this is not my body”

    Logic vs The Truth never makes sense.

  137. “I know that hell gets tossed into the Lake of Fire.”

    God picks hell up with his hands and tosses it into some sort of literal fiery lake?

    I wonder if it has handles. That would make it easier for God to pick it up and toss it in.

    …or maybe it’s a metaphor.

  138. RE: “this is my body”

    I know you believe the juice and cracker is the literal flesh and blood of Jesus…and no, that is not logical or reasonable and was most likely metaphor similar to Jesus riding on a white horse and a sword comes out of his mouth and slaughters the enemy until the blood is bridle high.

    Do you believe Jesus has a mouth-sword?

  139. How does God pick up a metaphor?

    Perhaps all the “love” passages are just a metaphor and not to be taken literally – seriously, like you would really have to go out and love somebody?

  140. MLD, if I made the claim that God gave me some golden tablets with a new revelation on them…would you want to see the proof?

  141. what kind of rat trap church would serve the juice and cracker. I see no scriptural instruction to serve juice and crackers. Again I see bread and wine as truth and logic says juice and crackers.

  142. Well, then you are a gnostic at heart.

  143. It’s really ironic….those who rail against gnostics actually hold a rather gnostic position if you really think about it.

  144. In the Book of Revelation after Rev 1:11 I don’t take anything as literal.

  145. Do you believe when Jesus turned the water into wine, that the water literally turned into wine?

  146. …or is it like the juice and cracker…Jesus said it was water and now wine…but it still tested scientifically as water?

    Why would the water/wine miracle be evident…but the juice and cracker be hidden if it was to be a literal miracle and not a metaphor?

  147. 2 things Alex –
    1.) you never address the questions or claims presented to you. Note how you moved off to Mormonism
    2.) Your Master’s College education is showing it’s shortcomings. You heard the word gnostic but never learned it’s definition.

  148. yes – just as I believe a literal 5 loaves and 2 fishes turned into enough food to feed multitudes of hungry people with great quantities left over.

    John Shelby Spong denies that Jesus actually fed the 5,000.

  149. Alex – which passages does your logic allow you to affirm? So far ‘your’ logic makes you question and deny passages.
    I posted elsewhere that yesterday on the church calender was the observation of Jesus’ conception. Whether the date is correct or not, does ‘your’ logic allow this to be truth – and actual happening or metaphor?

  150. MLD, all I know is what the various versions of the bible state.

    Then I know the myriad of interpretations of “thus sayeth the Lord” that the 9,000 to 30,000 denominations and mainlines say the bible states (and there is disagreement on all sorts of issues, very little agreement when you really dive into doctrinal issues).

    The bible states that Jesus turned the water into wine…and it also states that there was empirical evidence here on earth in this realm that the water had in fact turned into wine….ergo a miracle.

    The bible also states that Jesus said the bread was his body and the wine was his blood…but it did not turn to literal flesh and blood…ergo a metaphor.

  151. …had the disciples started gagging on the bread turned to flesh and the wine turned to blood…then I’m with you…literal earthly miracle.

    That is not what the bible states happened.

    Any “miracle” did not happen in this earthly realm, it was something spiritual and unseen…akin to a gnosis or something mystical that we cannot see with our senses here in our realm.

  152. …or it was a metaphor.

    Those are the only logical choices you have.

  153. Alex – can I ask where in the scriptures it says that the bread and wine turned into body and flesh? Stick with me here and just answer that … which passage? No dodging.

  154. To recap so my position is crystal clear to you:

    We can know and define a literal earthly miracle.

    Example: Jesus turned the water into wine. The party-goers drank the wine Jesus miracled and the bible says they liked it and acknowledged it as good literal wine…no longer water.

    We can know and define gnosis or something mystical that is not seen or experienced with the senses in this earthly realm. It is something you impart a truth and reality to…that you can demonstrate no physical earthly evidence for.

    In your case, you believe the cracker and juice turn to Jesus’s literal flesh and literal blood…though there is no physical earthly evidence of such a transformation…ergo you believe it is a gnosis or mystical manifestation that is unseen and not experienced with the senses in this earthly realm. Very gnostic position re: the sacraments.

    The third option…which I believe is likely…Jesus was speaking in metaphor and using the ritual as a mnemonic device “do this ritual in remembrance of me”…ergo metaphor.

  155. Jesus’ body and blood are in the bread and wine pretty much in the same way he was in the burning bush on Sinai.

  156. “Example: Jesus turned the water into wine. The party-goers drank the wine Jesus miracled and the bible says they liked it and acknowledged it as good literal wine…no longer water.”

    or it’s just made up like you claim much is in the OT.

  157. “Jesus’ body and blood are in the bread and wine pretty much in the same way he was in the burning bush on Sinai.”

    No, not according to the bible.

    There was physical evidence of the miracle of the burning bush…it describes it visibly burning but cool to the touch. A literal earthly realm miracle. Not a gnosis.

  158. “Those are the only logical choices you have.”

    Again you are locked in by logic and locked out of The Truth.

    You know what they say Alex, “when you find yourself in a hole – stop digging.

  159. MLD, you are clearly describing two things: A literal miracle viewable and experienced by the human senses…Moses was able to see with his human sight the burning bush and the bush was not consumed by the fire which violates the laws of physics.

    That is a literal earthly miracle, akin to water being turned into wine that was also verified (at least according to the bible account) by party guests who drank it and said it was wine and not water.

    Your gnosis/mystical position regarding the cracker and juice is just that…mystical…the biblical account does not describe a literal miracle experienced by the disciples or they would have gagged on human flesh and human blood, the taste would have been awful I’m sure…and today, you cannot produce evidence that the cracker and juice is transformed in a non-gnostic non-mystical sense.

  160. Alex, was Jesus the bush? Was Jesus the fire. Just what was Jesus?
    Was the bush special? was the fire special?
    Just as in the supper, Jesus is in there sacramentally.

    The bush was always on the mountain – there was never anything special about that bush, dogs could walk up to it and hike their leg … until Jesus entered it, then it had a sacramental use and you had to take your shoes off.

    The same way, Jesus enters the elements – real, but unexplainable. “your logic” says impossible.

  161. It’s OK to have a mystical position regarding the juice and cracker…it’s just not intellectually honest to call it something else.

  162. “the biblical account does not describe a literal miracle experienced by the disciples”

    Why do you look for a miracle? It was a proclamation made by Jesus that made it so. Again, believe me, I understand – because you put logic over truth you can’t see.

    When Jesus proclaims ‘your sins are forgiven’ – truth or miracle – or something else. I say it just is as stated … because Jesus said it. Is salvation a metaphor for something?

  163. RE: your 160, wow, that is sloppy beyond repair.

    Incorrect. My logic allows me to classify a group of manifestations as literal supernatural earthly miracles…though I have never directly seen evidence of any such phenomena, I do acknowledge that those phenomena are described in the bible and anecdotally by many humans.

    My logic does not allow me to classify something as a literal earthly miracle experienced by human senses that violates the laws of physics in this realm where the bible says no literal transformation occurred (as evidenced by the disciples not gagging on the stuff) and as evidence today by the juice and cracker I partake of and it tastes like juice and like a cracker.

    My logic informs me that the sacraments are therefore a gnosis/mystical thing not a literal earthly miracle…or that Jesus was using a metaphor as a mnemonic device “do this in remembrance”

  164. again, there is no juice and cracker in scripture – so that must be a metaphor you use to deny truth.

  165. Can you list any literal earthly miracles that Jesus did where there was no earthly evidence of the miracle according to the bible?

  166. The laws of physics do not allow for the ascension of Jesus into heaven either – so what are you saying, he is hiding out in Buffalo NY somewhere?

    Let’s just end this way with each of us in our corner – I will stick with truth and you stick with logic. 😉

  167. I don’t say that the proclamation of “this is my body” was a miracle – you make that claim so you need to defend it. I state simple Jesus proclaimed it. I also asked you to show me where in scripture it states that the bread and wine changed.

    But again, you don’t answer direct questions.

  168. “The laws of physics do not allow for the ascension of Jesus into heaven either”

    No, that is why it would be classified as a literal earthly miracle, something supernatural that violated the laws of physics…that was witnessed and experienced by human senses.

    In your gnosis/mystical approach to the juice and crackers…it would go something like this:

    “And Jesus said to the disciples…I am ascending into heaven! But, Jesus was still standing there on the ground next to them and didn’t ascend literally”

  169. Another example of your gnosis/mystical approach to the juice and crackers:

    “And Jesus told the disciples, I am walking on water…and Jesus jumped out of the boat and swam”

  170. And another example:

    “And Jesus said ‘this water is now wine!” and the guests drank the water and said, ‘um, this is still water”

  171. Another:

    “‘In three days I will rise from the dead!’…and three days passed and Jesus was still stinking up the tomb”

  172. For something to be a literal miracle it would have to be experienced in the earthly realm by physical human senses.

    Your juice/cracker “miracle” is simply not like any other miracle described in the bible…other than a gnosis or mystical sort of miracle like say someone’s heart being transformed…something spiritual and not literally manifested and observable by human senses.

  173. John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches.”–Jesus.

    I think I’ll “leave” on that note 😉 🙂

  174. You are still arguing, like 10 comments in a row about miracles and I have not made a claim for a miracle.

    Must be a blind spot for you.

  175. Jesus did not say he was A vine – he said he was THE vine – (you even quoted the very words). If you had any education in the OT you would know that he was making a literal claim.

  176. Jesus is the literal vine? If that’s not a metaphor I don’t know what is.

  177. Correction: If it’s not a metaphor that Jesus is the vine, I don’t know what is.

  178. Jesus is not A vine – but yes his claim is to be the literal vine spoken of in the OT – search it out.

    When Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd – what claim is he making? Does he heard sheep, no, but he is laying claim to be THAT Good Shepherd spoken of in the OT.

    Here is the upshot of any claim to metaphor. When Jesus claims to be THE Door- your claim to metaphor would be “well Jesus is not a plank of wood and metal hinges – followed by giggles. But that would be the fact if Jesus said “I am a door.”

    But id you try to make a metaphor out of I Am and make it say I represent or I symbolize, the you make Jesus say I represent the door – but i am not the door. I symbolize the door, but I am not the door. I am just a representative or a symbol for the REAL door.

    So, is Jesus claiming to be something real or just a representative sent by the real door, the real vine, the real shepherd. Is Jesus just a 2nd class guy.

  179. I would say that you are mixing Jesus claim to be unique with what we call metaphors. Jesus says I am the door, the vine, the way, the truth, the life etc. because we are to look for no other doors, vines, ways, truth or lives. These are all basic metaphors. When we get to heaven, will we see Jesus as the physicality of the objects He describes Himself as?

  180. Well, we just have a different way of looking at scriptures.

    I read it as Jesus saying I Am and you read I AM (well not really).

  181. MLD,
    I didn’t know Hinn has his place off the 73. Is it his personal residence or HQ office? I live literally not metaphorically right next to the 73. 😉

  182. I never paid attention real close, but I think it is right above Aliso Viejo Pkwy. If you are going north on the 73 it is on the right.

  183. It is his California media headquarters – I looked it up – although you see it right there on the 73 it is actually on Columbia Court

    I am sure that his personal residence is in Newport Beach.

  184. Yeah, I had heard he lived in Dana Point. I have a little bit of curiousity about the level of wealth of the guy seeing as he and a lot of other religious leaders don’t want to be transparent about salaries etc.

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