Archive for the ‘God’ Category

No Satisfaction Needed

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

At the cost of repeating myself, I want to note that in all these psalms there is no need for anyone to die. When a person turns to God from a wrongful path, divine forgiveness of sin is a gift generously given, pressed down and overflowing, because of the goodness of the God who loves them: “as far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us” (Ps 103:12). No satisfaction is needed.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 60

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

The Subversive Heart of Revelation

Friday, March 27th, 2020

But Revelation pulls an amazing surprise. In place of the lion that we expect, comes a Lamb: “Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered” (Rev 5:6). It is a complete reversal. Actually the Greek word John uses is not just “lamb,” but the diminutive form, a word like “lambkin,” “lamby,” or “little lamb” (arnion in Greek) — “Fluffy,” as Pastor Daniel Erlander calls it. The only other place this word arnion is used in the New Testament is where Jesus says he is sending his disciples out into the world “as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). No other apocalypse ever pictures the divine hero as a Lamb — Revelation is unique among apocalyptic writings in this image. The depiction of Jesus as a Lamb shows him in the most vulnerable way possible, as a victim who is slaughtered but standing — that is, crucified, but risen to life.

Reminiscent of the servant-lamb of Isaiah 53, who “is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep to the shearers is silent,” the Lamb of Revelation became the victor not by militaristic power and slaughter but rather by being slaughtered. From beginning to end, Revelation’s vision of the Lamb teaches a “theology of the cross,” of God’s power made manifest in weakness, similar to Paul’s theology of the cross in First Corinthians. Lamb theology is the whole message of Revelation. Evil is defeated not by overwhelming force or violence but by the Lamb’s suffering love on the cross. The victim becomes the victor.

Lamb theology is what true victory or true nike is. For we, too, are “victors” or followers of the Lamb on whom the term nike or conquering is bestowed. This is one of the amazing features of the book. Much of Revelation can sound so violent, but we have to look at the subversive heart of the book — the redefinition of victory and “conquering” — to understand how Revelation subverts violence itself. Just like the Lamb, God’s people are called to conquer not by fighting but by remaining faithful, by testifying to God’s victory in self-giving love.

— Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed, p. 110-111

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 27, 2020

It Comes Down to Love

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

In the end, it comes down to love, and God’s love never fails for the weak or broken of heart and spirit.

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 89

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Walls of Division Have Fallen

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

For Paul in particular, the marvel of Christ’s lordship is that all walls of division between persons and peoples, and finally between all creatures, have fallen, and that ultimately, when creation is restored by Christ, God will be all in all.

— David Bentley Hart, That All Shall Be Saved, p. 89

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 17, 2020

One of Us

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

By His life and example, Jesus shows that there is no human mediator between God and man, and that God has not separated Himself from mankind because of our sin, but has instead become one of us, sharing in our pain and releasing us from our shame. This teaching got Jesus in a lot of trouble with the religious leaders of His day, because they (rightly) understood that what He was saying was undermining the entire sacrificial system that supported the temple and the priestly class. Strangely, many religious leaders today side with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day in saying that the religious buildings, clergy, and sacrifices are all required by God. Of course, the religious leaders who argue this today believe that they are following the teachings of Jesus, but they twist the words and actions of Jesus to make it sound like they are in agreement with Him.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 149-150

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 14, 2020

Hope Amid the Horror

Friday, March 6th, 2020

More than five hundred years before Jesus’ death on the cross, Second Isaiah proclaimed that the God who created heaven and earth was redeeming and saving Israel and forgiving their sin out of the infinite depths of divine compassion. This God is forever faithful and does not need anyone to die in order to be merciful. It is strange to contemplate how Christian preaching in the tradition of the satisfaction theory seems to assume that some seismic shift suddenly changed the divine character, so that Jesus’ death was necessary to win favor for sinners. One hears that he came to die, and without the cross we would not be saved, as if at some point the flow of divine mercy were shut down, needing Jesus’ death to start it up again. As we will discover, however, rather than making a necessary gift to placate divine honor, Jesus’ brutal death enacts the solidarity of the gracious and merciful God with all who die and especially with victims of injustice, opening hope for resurrection amid the horror.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 50

Photo: March 6, 2015, South Riding, Virginia

Kinship

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

No daylight to separate us.

Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away. The prophet Habakkuk writes, “The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and it will not disappoint . . . and if it delays, wait for it.”

Kinship is what God presses us on to, always hopeful that its time has come.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 190

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 22, 2015

Never Giving Up

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Is it not the same with our own children, each their own yet fully out of us? When I think of the bond earthly parents have with our children, I know it is utterly impossible that God would ever ask us to lose a part of ourselves forever, any more than He would ever intend to give up a part of Himself. His answer is not damnation, but regeneration of all His children into purified sparks!

Jesus always esteemed children because He came to show the heart of the Father toward His children. A true father’s love cannot be earned, and it cannot be done away with. Just as we would never give up on our children, God will never give up on His children; His love will not fail them.

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 82

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 24, 2015

Lavishing a Lavish Love

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

When we lavish love, we offer it freely and generously, the same way that God loves us and offers us grace and forgiveness when we ask for it. When we offer a lavish love, we offer love in abundance. Jesus asks us to lavish a lavish love. The more we love others, the more love changes our actions, our words, our character, and our lives. Before we knew Jesus, we really didn’t have that much motivation to love others “lavishly.” We were not beings void of love. We loved, but we exchanged units of love with those who repaid us in kind, as though it could be stored in a love bank account and withdrawn at will. We did not consider love to be a full-time job, a “constant” call on our lives. Our love was more like a side hustle. Some days we didn’t even show up to work. It was catch as catch can.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 60

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 14, 2017

Freedom

Friday, February 7th, 2020

The most civilized apologists from the “infernalist” orthodoxies these days, as I have noted elsewhere in these pages, tend to prefer to defend their position by an appeal to creaturely freedom and to God’s respect for its dignity. And, as I have also noted, there could scarcely be a poorer argument; whether made crudely or elegantly, it invariably fails, because it depends upon an incoherent model of freedom. If one could plausibly explain how an absolutely libertarian act, obedient to no prior rationale whatsoever, would be distinguishable from sheer chance, or a mindless organic or mechanical impulse, and so any more “free” than an earthquake or embolism, then the argument might carry some weight. But to me it seems impossible to speak of freedom in any meaningful sense at all unless one begins from the assumption that, for a rational spirit, to see the good and know it truly is to desire it insatiably and to obey it unconditionally, while not to desire it is not to have known it truly, and so never to have been free to choose it…. Here I can at least point out that scripture seems to support my view. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32): for freedom and truth are one, and not to know the truth is to be enslaved. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34): not seeing the Good, says God to God, they did not freely choose evil, and must be pardoned. “Everyone committing sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34): and a slave, needless to say, is not free. Moreover, it is simply obvious that, under normal conditions, we recognize any self-destructive impulse in any person as a form of madness. It makes no more sense, then, to say that God allows creatures to damn themselves out of his love for them or out of his respect for their freedom than to say a father might reasonably allow his deranged child to thrust her face into a fire out of a tender regard for her moral autonomy.

— David Bentley Hart, That All Shall Be Saved, p. 79-80

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 6, 2015