Archive for the ‘Redemption’ Category

Carried

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

He will carry us in his arms till we are able to walk; he will carry us in his arms when we are weary with walking; he will not carry us if we will not walk.

Very different are the good news Jesus brings us from certain prevalent representations of the gospel, founded on the pagan notion that suffering is an offset for sin, and culminating in the vile assertion that the suffering of an innocent man, just because he is innocent, yea perfect, is a satisfaction to the holy Father for the evil deeds of his children. . . . The good news of Jesus was just the news of the thoughts and ways of the Father in the midst of his family.

— George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, p. 81-82

[Photo: Burg Dahn, Germany, July 1997]

God’s Covenant Plan

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

The point about the Messiah’s death [in Romans 3], then, is that it demonstrates in action the faithfulness of God to his covenant plan — the plan to rescue the world through Israel, to renew the whole world by giving Abraham a vast, uncountable sin-forgiven family. It was not a matter of Jesus’s persuading God to do something he might not otherwise have done. The Messiah’s death accomplishes what God himself planned to do and said he would do. Somehow, the Messiah’s faithful death constitutes the fulfillment of the Israel-shaped plan. Or, to put it another way (since Paul, like all the early Christians, had thought everyhing through again in the light of the resurrection), when God called Abraham, he had the Messiah’s cross in mind all along.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 320-321

[Photo: Altenbaumburg, Germany, Mother’s Day 1999]

The Larger Hope from Scripture

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

A crowd of witnesses, from almost every quarter to which the gospel had reached, assure us of their belief that Christ liberated from Hades every soul, without exception. And we have heard teachings that openly assert, or, by fair inference, involve the larger hope, from both East and West, from Gaul as well as from Alexandria; from Rome; from Milan; from Arabia; from Palestine; from Antioch; from Cappadocia; from Cilicia; from Constantinople; from the distant Euphrates. And this teaching, be it noted, is strongest where the language of the New Testament was a living tongue, i.e., in the great Greek Fathers: it is strongest in the church’s greatest era, and declines as knowledge and purity decline. On the other hand, endless penalty is most strongly taught precisely in those quarters where the New Testament was less read in the original, and also in the most corrupt ages of the church.

Note carefully — the point is significant — that this universalism was essentially and first of all based on Scripture; on those promises of a “restitution of all things,” taught by “all God’s holy prophets,” repeated so often by the psalmists; and echoed clearly and distinctly in the New Testament.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 165-166

[Photo: Skerries beach, Ireland, July 2001]

The Wideness of the Tent

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

This desire to learn what the faith is from those who have lived it in the face of being told they are not welcome or worthy is far more than “inclusion.” Actually, inclusion isn’t the right word at all, because it sounds like in our niceness and virtue we are allowing “them” to join “us” — like we are judging another group of people to be worthy of inclusion in a tent that we don’t own. I realized in that coffee shop that I need the equivalent of the Ethiopian eunuch to show me the faith. I continually need the stranger, the foreigner, the “other” to show me water in the desert. I need to hear, “here is water in the desert, so what is to keep me, the eunuch, from being baptized?” Or me the queer or me the intersex or me the illiterate or me the neurotic or me the overeducated or me the founder of Focus on the Family.

Until I face the difficulty of that question and come up, as Philip did, with no good answer . . . until then, I can only look at the seemingly limited space under the tent and think either it’s my job to change people so they fit or it’s my job to extend the roof so that they fit. Either way, it’s misguided because it’s not my tent. It’s God’s tent. The wideness of the tent of the Lord is my concern only insofar as it points to the gracious nature of a loving God who became flesh and entered into our humanity. The wideness of the tent is my concern only insofar as it points to the great mercy and love of a God who welcomes us all as friends.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 94

[Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012]

God as Savior

Friday, May 4th, 2018

The cross is many things, but it is not a quid pro quo to mollify an angry God. Above all things, the cross, as the definitive moment in Jesus’s life, is the supreme revelation of the very nature of God. At the cross Jesus does not save us from God; at the cross Jesus reveals God as savior! When we look at the cross we don’t see what God does; we see who God is!

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 82

[Photo: Glenveagh, Ireland, July 2001]

The Good News

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Atonement theories are not the gospel. Across the New Testament, while metaphors do appear to hint at the “how” of atonement, the emphasis is not on these symbolic explanations, but on the story itself. Preaching the gospel never meant theorizing how atonement happens but, rather, proclaiming good news: the events and impacts of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 230

[Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012]

Higher Mercy

Monday, April 30th, 2018

When Isaiah throws out the higher-ways-of-God argument [in Isaiah 55:6-9], it isn’t to defend the vengeful punishment of God, it is to defend the abundant mercy of God! To take this text and use it to defend a conception of divine justice and goodness that certainly seems much worse than any human understanding of justice and goodness is to use this text for the opposite purpose than it was originally intended. If we take the context seriously, and we should, the higher-ways-of-God argument can be more appropriately used to defend the universalist position than the traditionalist one. God’s ability and desire to pardon is beyond our understanding!

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 22

[Photo: Riverbend Park, Virginia, April 20, 2018]

One True Purpose

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

The one true end of all speech concerning holy things is — the persuading of the individual man to cease to do evil, to set himself to do well, to look to the lord of his life to be on his side in the new struggle. Supposing the suggestions I have made correct, I do not care that my reader should understand them, except it be to turn against the evil in him, and begin to cast it out. If this be not the result, it is of no smallest consequence whether he agree with my interpretation or not. If he do thus repent, it is of equally little consequence; for, setting himself to do the truth, he is on the way to know all things. Real knowledge has begun to grow possible for him.

— George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, p. 37-38

[Photo: Burg Rheinfels, Germany, April 4, 1997]

Self-Giving Love

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Jesus was innocent, yet he died the death of the guilty. But notice what overall narrative frames this statement (in 2 Corinthians 5:21). It is not the quasi-pagan narrative of an angry or capricious divinity and an accidental victim. It is the story of love, covenant love, faithful love, reconciling love. Messianic love. It is the story of the victory of that love, because that self-giving love turns out to have a power of a totally different sort from any other power known in the world (which is why Paul is happy to say that he is strong when he is weak).

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 253

[Photo: Riverbend Park, Virginia, April 20, 2018]

Changeless Love

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

“God so loved the world” — dwell on these words. The world, then, must have been in some real sense worthy of love. He cannot love — he may pity — the unlovely. Has he ceased to love it? If so, when? I challenge a reply. “Love is not love that alters, where it alteration finds”; even human love, if true, never changes. Yet this love is but a faint, far-off, reflection of our Father’s love. God is not love and justice, or love and anger. He is love, i.e., love essential [I John 4:8]. Therefore his wrath and vengeance, while very real, are the ministers of his love. To say that God cannot change is to say that his love cannot change. Hence his love, being changeless, pursues the sinner to the outer darkness, and, being almighty, draws him hence. An earthly parent, who, being able to help, should sit unmoved, month after month, year after year, watching, but never helping, the agonies of his own offspring is a picture more hideous than any the records of crime can furnish. What shall we say to those who heighten enormously, infinitely, all that is shocking in such a picture, until its blackest details become light itself; and then tell us that the parent in this ghastly scene is one who is love, love infinite, almighty, and our Father?

And this brings us face to face with a blunder of our traditional creed, which is radical. It talks of God’s love as though that stood merely on a par with his justice, [as] though it were something belonging to him which he puts on or off. It is hardly possible to open a religious book in which this fatal error is not found; fatal, because it virtually strikes out of the gospel its fundamental truth — that GOD IS LOVE. The terms are equivalent. They can be interchanged. God is not anger, though he can be angry; God is not vengeauce, though he does avenge. These are attributes; love is essence. Therefore, God is unchangeably love. Therefore, in judgment he is love, in wrath he is love, in vengeance he is love — “love first, and last, and midst, and without end.”

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 76-77

[Photo: Giant’s Causeway, Ireland, July 2001]