Archive for the ‘God’ Category

All or Some?

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Is God in earnest in telling us that he reconciles the world? Does he mean what he says, or does he only mean that he will try to reconcile it, but will be baffled? This question often rises unbidden, as we read these statements of the Bible, and compare them with the popular creed, which turns “all” into “some,” when salvation is promised to “all,” and turns the “world,” when that is said to be saved, into a larger or smaller fraction of men.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 260

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 15, 2015

Beyond Fear

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Yes, I understand the Bible commends the fear of God, and I do too, but only as a preliminary beginning. God desires us to grow beyond the rudimentary beginning of fear. The apostle John said it this way:

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. . . . There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

In what is called the fear of God, what I fear is not God but the suffering my sin can inflict on myself and those around me. What God calls me to fear is the destructive results of sin — and I take God seriously. The shorthand term for this is the fear of God. The malevolent consequences of sin are all too real. But I’m not afraid of God. I used to be, but I am no longer. I am no longer afraid of God because I have come to know God as he is revealed in Christ. I have come to know that God’s single disposition toward me is one of unconditional, unwavering love. The knowledge of God’s love has made it impossible for me to be afraid of God.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 96-97

Photo: Chateau de Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland, November 2000

Divine Possibility

Friday, October 12th, 2018

At the end of the day, I believe that God’s love for us will be more relentless than our rejection of him, and that is why I am a universalist. I do not at all underestimate how deeply rooted self-centered and sinful patterns of living can be, but at the same time I do not think we should underestimate the power of God’s just and holy love to pull the roots of sin out of our hearts.

If I am proven to be wrong about this, if some will forever hold out against God, then I think God will not be offended if I put too much confidence in the power of divine love. Even if one doesn’t go all the way in affirming that God will ultimately heal every human heart and transform every evil will through destroying all sin with the fire of his holy love, it seems to me that every Christian should at least have hope in the possibility of this happening. Jesus, after all, told us that, “with God, all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). We should take careful note of the fact that when Jesus said this he was explicitly referring to the power of God to save even those who seem impossible to save from a merely human perspective (Matt 19:23-26). When it comes to who can be saved, our hope is in divine possibility, not in human probabilities.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 101-102

Photo: Sunset from Waterside Inn, Chincoteague, October 22, 2016

All Means All

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

One thing only I ask, which common fairness and honesty require, that our Lord and his evangelists and apostles may be understood to mean what they say.

Thus, we shall look at a few instances out of many. When they speak of all men, I assume them to mean all men, and not some men. When they speak of all things, I assume them to mean all things. When they speak of life and salvation as given to the world, I assume them to mean given, and not merely offered. When they speak of the destruction of death, of the devil, and of the works of the devil, I assume them to mean that these shall be destroyed and not preserved for ever in hell. When they tell us that the whole of creation suffers, but that it shall be delivered, I assume that they mean an actual deliverance of all created things. When they tell us that redemption is wider, broader, and stronger than the fall, I assume that they mean to tell us at least this, that all the evil caused by the fall shall be swept away. When they describe Christ’s empire as extending over all things and all creatures, and tell us that every tongue must join in homage to him, I assume them to mean what these words convey in their ordinary sense. If I did not, should I not be making God a liar?

–Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 241-242

Photo: From Ferry to the Isle of Mull, Scotland, July 12, 2003

God’s Joy

Friday, October 5th, 2018

God, I guess, is more expansive than every image we think rhymes with God. How much greater is the God we have than the one we think we have. More than anything else, the truth of God seems to be about a joy that is a foreigner to disappointment and disapproval. This joy just doesn’t know what we’re talking about when we focus on the restriction of not measuring up. This joy, God’s joy, is like a bunch of women lined up in the parish hall on your birthday, wanting only to dance with you — cheek to cheek. “First things, recognizably first,” as Daniel Berrigan says. The God, who is greater than God, has only one thing on Her mind, and that is to drop, endlessly, rose petals on our heads. Behold the One who can’t take His eyes off of you.

Marinate in the vastness of that.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 38-39.

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 4, 2016.

God Is Like Jesus

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Jesus’s entire life was a demonstration of the true nature of God. As Jesus heals the sick, forgives the sinner, receives the outcast, restores the fallen, and supremely as he dies on a cross forgiving his killers, he reveals what God is like. To see Jesus is to see the Father. At last we know that God is not like the thunderbolt-hurling Zeus or any of the other angry gods in the pantheon of terrorized religious imagination. God is like Jesus, nailed to a tree, offering forgiveness. God is not a monster. God is like Jesus!

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 93-94

Photo: Staffa Island, Scotland, July 13, 2003

Changed Hearts

Monday, September 24th, 2018

When we think about how God could bring it about that all would ultimately choose to repent and be reconciled to God, we are not limited to thinking that God will have to twist people’s arms behind their backs or beat them into submission. A foundational Christian belief is that God has the power to break into people’s hearts and lives and change them from the inside out and make them new people. God has the power to dispel our illusions and set us free from the bubbles of self-deception in which we often live. In the age to come, when we are immersed in the divine presence, surrounded by the unmediated and pure holiness and love of God, the light will shine on the ugliness of our sin and on the beauty of God’s love for us. God will not externally force anyone to do something they do not want to do. Rather, we can trust that God has the power to internally compel all people to see the truth about themselves and the truth about God in such a way that will leave them without any motivation to cling to their sin, and every motivation to throw themselves onto the mercy of God.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 99-100

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 25, 2013

Christ-life Inside Us

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

The Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or — if they think there is not — at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.

— C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in C. S. Lewis’ Book of Wisdom: Meditations on Faith, Life, Love, and Literature, compiled by Andrea Kirk Assaf & Kelly Anne Leahy, page 56.

More thoughts about this quote found on Sonderjourneys.

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 23, 2015

Join the Revolution!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

The message for us, then, is plain. Forget the “works contract,” with its angry, legalistic divinity. Forget the false either/or that plays different “theories of atonement” against one another. Embrace the “covenant of vocation” or, rather, be embraced by it as the Creator calls you to a genuine humanness at last, calls and equips you to bear and reflect his image. Celebrate the revolution that happened once for all when the power of love overcame the love of power. And, in the power of that same love, join in the revolution here and now.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 416

[Photo: Donnersbergkreis, Germany, November 8, 2003]

Anger of Limited Duration

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Let us pause here for a moment to dwell on the significance of this fact of the limited duration of the divine anger, so clearly taught in the Old Testament. Take a few instances, “I am merciful, says the Lord, I will not keep anger for ever” (Jer 3:12). “His anger endures but a moment” (Ps 30:5), “while his mercy endures for ever” (Ps 136) — a statement repeated no less than twenty-six times in this one psalm. “He will not always chide, neither keeps he his anger for ever” (Ps 103:9). “He retains not his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy” (Mic 7:18).

But if this be true, what becomes of the popular creed? If God’s anger is temporary, how can it be endless? If it endure but a moment, how can it last for ever in even a solitary instance? I would invite our opponents fairly to face these plain and reiterated assertions: and to explain why they feel justified in teaching that God’s anger will in many cases last for ever, and that his mercy will not endure for ever.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 238

Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003