There is no doubt that God demands justice. But exactly what is “justice”? What does it look like?
The 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”
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”
In John’s gospel Jesus categorically states that he would not be left alone by the Father.
There is one oft overlooked problem with claiming that the Father abandoned Jesus, and that is that the Gospel narratives do not bear it out. Let’s examine them.
- Was Jesus abandoned by his Father?
John’s Gospel provides us with two very specific statements from Jesus about his coming death – and the shock is that Jesus categorically states says that he would not be left alone by the Father. Continue reading “The Gospel Narrative: Never Alone”
In this excellent article, Nick demonstrates why we need to understand Jesus’ cry of abandonment as a prayer, and that the entire Psalm was clearly in mind. He also addresses some of the issues with trying to use the ‘cry’ from the Gospel narrative as the basis for forming doctrine.
For anyone who has been told that God cannot tolerate sinners and that God’s justice demands He must punish them, then this is a great antidote.
Brad takes a few liberties (e.g. technically Adam and Eve were banished from the garden so that they would not eat of the tree of life) but the white hot asbestos suit comment is, sadly, true. We think his presentation provides a necessary corrective to the dominant western view of the Gospel, and gives a more Christ-like picture of God. It is a breath of fresh air!
Brad Jersak – the gospel in chairs: