Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lent Day 36: All of God

Yesterday, I sat in on a discussion of a book on heaven and hell. The author contends that everyone will eventually come to realize that God is worth following, and accept Jesus as God's provision. Some interesting questions were raised by the writer. Does God really want us to talk to others about the yucky consequences of displeasing him? Or is he "unconditional love who accepts us?" as an attendee yesterday said. That's a nice idea, and one we might wish was true, but it's not found in scripture.

Leaning back in my comfy chair, watching the well-dressed and well-fed students and others in the room, I agreed with the professor who admitted: "This discussion could only take place in the US or Europe. The rest of the world isn't buying it." Elsewhere, justice can be swift and capricious, and people understand that going against authority has consequences.

Fragmenting God into love and ignoring his justice and righteousness, or vice versa -- stressing only his justice and righteousness and ignoring his love -- creates warps and imbalances that keep popping up in the Church. Eventually, following either extreme with human logic leads to heresy. God is LOVE, but he is also GOOD, which gives us a plumbline for living with integrity.

God was kind enough to make a provision for our sins and failures that is sufficient to satisfy his righteousness and bring him and humankind into a loving relationship. What more could we ask for? In our wildest dreams, would we expect this generosity and agony on our behalf?

Apparently, most people (including theologians) think Jesus is "not enough" ...so we need to figure out loopholes and "kinder, more inclusive" solutions to the human dilemma of brokenness and wrongdoing. It upsets me when ministers question publicly what God says about himself, teaching the blind to follow them into the ditch of apostasy. Forums of study, scholarship, and accountability groups are better places to air doubts and think through challenges, rather than confusing the untrained and the spiritually immature.

Scripture warns that teachers will be more severely judged because of their influence over others, and because a relationship with God must be the core of their teaching. Rob Bell and others take note!

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