Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Faith Among the Shambles

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

In arguing with Job, their understandable concern is that in the depths of this man’s despair his thoughts seem to be irreverently taken up with the collapse of God’s good favor towards him, rather than with the collapse of his own faith. The supreme irony of this judgment is that really it is they who, by clinging to their theology of successful living or else, show themselves to be lacking faith in God, while Job, by honestly and passionately facing the shambles that his life has become, proves that in the pit of his heart he trusts his Lord.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 82

Healing Repentance

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Sin and suffering are not natural opposites. The opposite of evil is good, not suffering. The opposition of sin is not suffering, but righteousness. The path across the gulf that divides right from wrong is not the fire, but repentance.

If my friend has wronged me, will it console me to see him punished? Will that be a rendering to me of my due? What kind of friendship would I be ft for if that were possible, even with regard to my enemy? But would not the shadow of repentant grief, the light of reviving love on his face, heal it at once, however deep the hurt had been?

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, compiled by Michael Phillips, p. 259.

Very Different

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

The novel we sit down to write and the one we end up writing may be very different, just as the Jesus we grasp and the Jesus who grasps us may also differ.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 14

God Gets the Last Word.

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

I believe hell is very real, yet I also believe that a God who is love is also real, and that this God gets the last word.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 1

Destroying Sin

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Punishment, I repeat, is not the thing required of God, but the absolute destruction of sin. What better is the world, what better is the sinner, what better is God, what better is the truth, that the sinner should suffer — continue suffering to all eternity? Would there be less sin in the universe? Would there be any making-up for sin? Would it show God justified in doing what he knew would bring sin into the world, justified in making creatures he knew would sin? What setting-right would come of the sinner’s suffering? If justice demanded it, if suffering be the equivalent for sin, then the sinner must suffer, and God is bound to exact his suffering, and not pardon; and so the making of man was a tyrannical deed, a creative cruelty. But grant that the sinner has deserved to suffer, no amount of suffering is any atonement for his sin. To suffer to all eternity could not make up for one unjust word.

An unjust word is an eternally evil thing; nothing but God in my heart can cleanse me from the evil that uttered it. But it does not follow that I saw the evil of what I did so perfectly that eternal punishment for it would be just. Sorrow and confession and self-abasing love will make up for the evil word; suffering will not. For evil in the abstract, nothing can be done. It is eternally evil. But I may be saved from it by learning to loathe it, to hate it, to shrink from it with an eternal avoidance. The only vengeance worth having on sin is to make the sinner himself its executioner.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, p. 259

Easter Is the Answer

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

A graduate student wrote to ask if my Christianity affects my novels, and I replied that it is the other way around. My writing affects my Christianity. In a way one might say that my stories keep converting me back to Christianity, from which I am constantly tempted to stray because the circle of blessing seems frayed and close to breaking, and my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times when I feel that he has withdrawn from me, and I have often given him cause; but Easter is always the answer to My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season, p. 99, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase

You Are Lovable.

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

If you believe, as I do, that God is love, and not an old man in the sky hurling lightning bolts at unsuspecting innocents, and that this love is the creative force of the universe — and these are big ifs, I understand that — then you are, by the fact that you are created, loved. You are lovable because God loved you first.

But some people — maybe even most people — don’t see themselves that way. Far too often, we’ve been taught not to see God that way. We’ve been taught the vindictive-old-man version of God, and not the creative-force-of-love version, and so we may never have known that we are lovable. Or perhaps, through the little dramas and big traumas of life, we’ve forgotten it.

When you don’t know that you’re lovable as you are, you need someone to show you.

— Kerry Egan, On Living, p. 150-151.

Punishment of Sin

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Punishment is nowise an offset to sin. Punishment, deserved suffering, is no equipoise to sin. Suffering weighs nothing at all against sin. If sin sits on one scale, it will move it not a hairsbreadth to lay punishment and suffering on the other. They are not of the same kind, not under the same laws, any more than mind and matter. To attempt to equate them would be like placing a cubic inch of lead on the one scale, and attempting to balance it by placing a cubic yard of air on the other. The sin is unmoved. It remains where it is though an eternity of punishment and suffering be brought to bear against it.

If it were an offset to wrong, then God would be bound to punish for the sake of punishment. But he cannot be, for he forgives. Then it is not for the sake of punishment, as a thing that in itself ought to be done, but for the sake of something else, as a means to an end, that God punishes.

Primarily, God is not bound to punish sin; he is bound to destroy sin. If he were not the Maker, he might not be bound to destroy sin — I do not know. But seeing he has created creatures who have sinned, and therefore sin has, by the creating act of God, come into the world, God is, in his own righteousness, bound to destroy sin.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, compiled by Michael Phillips, p. 258

Always Merciful

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Every attribute of God must be infinite as himself. He cannot be sometimes merciful, but not always merciful. He cannot be just, but not always just. Mercy belongs to him, and needs no contrivance of theologic chicanery to justify it.

“Then do you mean it is wrong to punish sin, and therefore God does not punish sin?”

By no means.

God does punish sin, but there is no opposition between punishment and forgiveness. The one may be essential to the possibility of the other. We are back to my question: Why does God punish sin?

“Because in itself sin deserves punishment,” do you answer?

Then how can God tell us to forgive it?

“He punishes, and having punished he forgives.”

That will hardly do. For if sin demands punishment, if the making right for sin is punishment, and righteous punishment is given, then the man is out from under sin’s claim upon him; he is free. Why should he now be forgiven?

“He needs forgiveness, because no amount of punishment can make up for the sin that is in his nature. Nothing will fully give him all he deserves.”

Then why not forgive him at once, if the punishment is not essential, if it does not adequately remedy the whole of the problem of sin? And this points out the fault in the whole idea.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, compiled by Michael Phillips, p. 257-258

God Will Overcome.

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Evil is a hard thing, even for God to overcome. Yet thoroughly and altogether and triumphantly will he overcome it.

But not by crushing it underfoot — any god of man’s idea could do that — but by conquest of heart over heart, of life over life, of life over death, of love over all. Nothing shall be too hard for the God who fears not pain, but will deliver and make true and blessed at his own severest cost.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 247.