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”
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?”
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?”
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?”
Was Jesus’ self-sacrifice a payment?
The concept of price has many connotations, but it is not always related to a payment.
For example, when a soldier pays “the ultimate price” we do not make the illogical leap that somehow his life was a payment to someone. Actions have consequences, and we often refer to a negative consequence as “the price that has to be paid” e.g. if you decide to have offspring, then you will need to nurture and care for them for at least 18 years. That is the “price you pay” for having children. But there is no transaction, no payment to anyone.
So when something (freedom, peace etc) has been “bought at a price” it does not mean literally that some type of exchange or transaction took place. Continue reading “Price, Payment and the Transactional Trap”
An article exploring the inherent problems in fusing an Aristotelian doctrine of God with the teaching of the Bible about the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For those who are interested in exploring how Calvinism moved away from Calvin’s warm-hearted God this is a fascinating article. In it James B Torrance illustrates how using Aristotelian distinctions plus confusion over the nature of covenants, and wrongfully applying these to God lead to contra-Biblical conclusions e.g. that justice is the essential attribute of God, but the love of God is arbitrary.
“The doctrine of the Incarnation is not that an impassible God came in Jesus Christ. It is that God came as man in Christ and ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate’. Continue reading “Aristotelian influence on Calvinism”
One thing must surely be plain–that the punishment of the wrongdoer makes no atonement for the wrong done.
This unspoken sermon of George MacDonald is an excellent example of how much truth we miss (and even deny) when we interpret God’s justice in accordance with our own weak and fundamentally flawed human understanding of the concept.
The following are a few quotes, but you really need to read the whole sermon (link at the bottom) to benefit from the arguments presented.
“There is no opposition, no strife whatever, between mercy and justice. Those who say justice means the punishing of sin, and mercy the not punishing of sin, and attribute both to God, would make a schism in the very idea of God”. Continue reading “George MacDonald on “Justice””
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a traditional old English Carol, reputed to date back to the 15th/16th century. It is one of the oldest carols we still sing today.
One cannot help but wonder whether, had it been written more recently, the lyrics might run more like this…
God rest ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day
To save us from the Father’s wrath whom we had disobeyed
O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.
The correct lyrics are, of course… “To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray”. In other words – Christus victor!
What a wonderful source of encouragement and connection to ‘the faith as handed down by the apostles’ the old carols can be.
We recently came across this article by Derek Vreeland. It is a thoughtful piece and makes a helpful contribution to the debate. You’ll need to read it through to the end, though, or you’ll entirely miss the point he’s making:
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.