Monday, January 4, 2010

working for it

Many Christians advance the idea that Jesus' death was a way by which God satisfied God's own need for a punishment that could atone for the sins of the world and perpetuate the idea that God's willingness to sacrifice Jesus on our behalf is what reveal's God's love to us. The problem with this is that it leads to an overemphasis on putting faith in a God who loves us so much he is willing to sacrifice his son, and it can reinforce the caricature of a God who is angry, bloodthirsty, and judgmental...
Burke and Taylor, A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, p. 131

This is only part of the paragraph, I intend to get to the other part of in a moment. For now, see what things these two are attacking, and trying to discredit.

In my responses to B&T, I am using the book "What the Bible Teaches" by R.A. Torrey to help, and want to acknowledge that here.

First, we have to deal with the these emergents' attack on the idea that God is angry with us.

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation
Exodus 34:6-7

This would, I suppose, be a hard passage for some to accept. It seems good at first, God saying He's merciful and forgiving and all that, but then He also says He's not one to just let the guilty get off, but will punish them and even their future generations.

On point, I think, is this--we cannot have the nice aspects of God without the harsher ones. To simply say that we will take the mercy and forgiveness, but will explain away the punishment and anger, is to create a God who is in essence a grandpa in the sky.

And were by nature children of wrath, even as others.
Ephesians 2:3

I suppose that couldn't be more plain, and it's even a New Testament passage, so dismissing the Exodus passage as being OT will not suffice here.

Responding to the statement attacking the idea that "God's willingness to sacrifice Jesus on our behalf is what reveal's God's love to us" is almost too easy, as they are in actuality attacking the plain statement of Scripture.

For God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
Romans 5:8

Because the truth is, Christ's sacrificial death does show God's love for us.

Even more outrageous is this statement of theirs, "The problem with this is that it leads to an overemphasis on putting faith in a God who loves us so much he is willing to sacrifice his son", in light of one of the Bible most well-known verses.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, and whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life
John 3:16

There is no 'problem' in 'overemphasizing' having faith in a God who loves us so much that his sacrificed His Son for us. The only problem is in underemphasizing it, or attacking it as being not something people want to hear.

The remainder of the paragraph gives a glimpse of what they think instead.

To balance this view, we need to act out in faith, living the way Jesus lived and standing up for the things he stood for. What counts is not a belief system but a holistic approach to following what you feel, experience, discover, and believe; it is a willingness to join Jesus in his vision for a transformed humanity.

Salvation by works.

When I read through this book, I tried to do so with a pencil, to mark and make some notes. Here, I underlined the last part of this paragraph, and made a note of one word, the word being "dominionsim".

I have for a few years known of one form of christian dominionism, the Reconstructionists. Given what I have seen of Emergent's views of Christ's return, I think it safe to say that some among them have their own version of it. If Reconstructionists lean somewhat to the right politically, Emergent and Progressive Deconstructionists are decidedly more to the left.

But don't think it is any less virulent; if anything, it's more so.

For now, though, it is enough to focus on their dismissals of the Scriptural concept of Christ's sacrificial death, and their replacing of it with works. And that they claim that their works are "the things he stood for" is rather funny, seeing as I see nowhere in the Gospels where Jesus stood for the things these Emergents stand for.

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