Mad at Mercy

It is revealing to observe just how much God’s mercy narks us.

Early in the Bible, and thus in God’s revelation about himself, God supplies his name to Moses. He calls himself “I Am” or “I Am that I Am” (Ex 3: 14). What we miss, however, is that in Hebrew the name is not limited to the present tense. It could just as easily (or perhaps more accurately) be translated “I will be who I will be”. It should be taken as a statement of absolute intent. God will be himself, period. We are being given a heads-up: man does not get to define God, nor contain him.

Continue reading “Mad at Mercy”

Even death on a cross?

Could God’s Anointed be hung on a tree to die?

Paul writes: “… he (Jesus) humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8)

Why was death on a cross such a big deal? Because of Deuteronomy 21:23:

“…his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury it in that day; for every one that is hanged on a tree is cursed of God”.

The Jews believed that if anyone was hung on a tree to die then they were under God’s curse. It was a slam dunk.

Continue reading “Even death on a cross?”

Where we are at…

This Q&A with Brad Jersak gives a great illustration of where our own theology now sits. The Q&A starts with an intro and history of Brad’s early ministry, so if you want to cut to the ‘and how has my theology changed’ piece, that starts at about 20 mins in.

Hope you enjoy it (Oh, and be warned: there are a few “making s**t up” comments which are part of a shared joke, as becomes clear later in the chat).

Handwritten Ordinances or Record of Debt?

In the New Testament there are various words used when referencing the Old Testament (e.g. nomos, graphe and gramma)*. On just two occasions (Eph 2:15 and Col 2:14) Paul uses another word: dogma (literally “ordinances”). Paul must have had a particular idea in mind, common to both Ephesians and Colossians, in selecting this very particular word.

Continue reading “Handwritten Ordinances or Record of Debt?”

Lies we believe #4: Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath

It is often authoritatively claimed that the cup that Jesus drank was the cup of God’s wrath. In support, verses are quoted from the OT which refer to the cup of God’s wrath (e.g. Jer 25:15). Whilst it is true that the OT often refers to a cup of wrath, this is not the only kind of cup. We cannot ignore the broader definition of cup and its multiple use. Continue reading “Lies we believe #4: Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath”

Lies we believe #3: God’s justice demands that sin be punished

There is no doubt that God demands justice. But exactly what is “justice”? What does it look like?

justice1The understanding that springs immediately to our minds is derived from Criminal Law. When a crime has been committed against an individual,  the injured party “demands” justice: the perpetrator must be punished and the punishment must fit the crime (e.g. an eye for an eye). If the perpetrator is let off we would be quick to declare that justice has not been served. Yet even if the injured party were to choose to forgive, the law of the land would still require a sentence to be administered in order to satisfy justice. There must be punishment. Justice, then, operates under the “law of retribution” and as such has little room for mercy. Indeed, to show leniency would be to thwart justice. Justice and mercy stand directly opposed. Continue reading “Lies we believe #3: God’s justice demands that sin be punished”

Is the Bible without error?

Examining (honestly) the problem with multiple texts

Firstly, before we can answer the question, we must distinguish between the Bible as written in its original language and its translation into another tongue.

Firstly, is there a perfect English translation?

Given the plethora of English translations over the years, with constant revisions and updates, no single particular version (not even the King James’ Bible) can be declared to be the “authentic, error-free” translation. In many ways this is because Hebrew and Greek thought is so different to the Anglo-Saxon world of English. Extensive judgement calls have to be made by the translators, and these tend to be made within an existing theological framework. Where no direct English equivalent exists, a substitute word has to be found, which will never have exactly the same scope nor subtleties of the original. By definition, since it is flawed human beings making the judgement call, there can be no wholly accurate translation. Which version would that be anyway?! Continue reading “Is the Bible without error?”

Is God the Father Mad, Bad or Good?

How can a merciful God command genocide?

“..in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them… as the LORD your God has commanded you” (Deut 20:16-17)

“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'” (1 Samuel 15:3)

There can be no disputing that this violent portrayal of God is incompatible with the merciful God revealed in Christ who commands us to love our enemies: Continue reading “Is God the Father Mad, Bad or Good?”

Lies we believe #2: There is a gulf between God and Man

Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is ‘at hand’ i.e. that it is close to us. The Apostle Paul declares that God is not far from any of us (Acts 17:27). Psalm 139 attests that there is nowhere we can go to that God is not (Psalm 139:7-8), that he hems us in (Psalm 139:5).

Why then do we think that God is far off, that there is a gulf between us? This idea has come from the erroneous idea that because God is “holy” he cannot allow himself to be in the company of sin (and therefore sinners). There are two passages which are often called upon in support of this notion:

1) Isaiah declares that our sins have made a separation between us and God. Therefore, it is said, there must be a real physical separation.

2) Habakkuk, in wrestling with God, argues that God is “too holy to look on sin”. Since we are sinners it thus follows that God cannot even look on us, and therefore must have separated himself from us.

But let us read these texts carefully. Continue reading “Lies we believe #2: There is a gulf between God and Man”