Tuesday, April 15, 2008

God hates you. Get over it.

"You have been told that God is a loving, gracious, merciful, kind, compassionate, wonderful, and good sky fairy who runs a day care in the sky and has a bucket of suckers for everyone because we're all good people. That is a lie... God looks down and says 'I hate you, you are my enemy, and I will crush you,' and we say that is deserved, right and just, and then God says 'Because of Jesus I will love you and forgive you.' This is a miracle. "

Mark Driscoll, in one of his sermons on November 6, 2006.

The sermon was in audio format, and I'm pulling this quote from Wikipedia. So I admit I could missing a few things, especially due to the ellipses.

But if this were the case, then shouldn't the verse read, "For God so loves His son that He loves and forgives the world for the sake of Jesus?" Instead, it says that God loved the world, that He gave His son.

Or, rather than "Everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God, but the unloving know nothing of God. For God is love; and his love was disclosed to us in this, that He sent His only son into the world to bring us life." 1 John 4: 9-10.

Jesus changes God's hate to love, according to quote.

I'd have a really hard time trusting this sort of God who hates me. Or loving this sort of God. I'd keep relying on Jesus to keep me safe from this God, and why would I even want to be with this God? This God doesn't love me, He loves Jesus and only Jesus.

Not only that, but I don't get this sense of God hating us all from the Tanakh, and only loving us due to intervention. We could bring up the sacrificial system, but how many Psalms are so grateful for animal blood because it makes God love them? Or changes God's hate to love?

Why would God even create what He hates?

I also don't believe that God is a giant sky fairy with a bucket of suckers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Define God.

1) A central aspect to Christianity theology is that the word of God became flesh. The lamb of God takes away the sins of the world, and through the Incarnation, God became man.

2) "Be generous to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. In a word, as God's dear children, try to be like him, and live in love as Christ loved you, and gave himself up on your behalf as an offering and sacrifice whose fragrance is pleasing to God." Ephesians 4: 32, 5: 1-2

3) "You are on a spiritual level, if only God's Spirit dwells within you; and if a man does not possess the Spirit of Christ, he is no Christian. But if Christ is dwelling within you, then although the body is a dead thing because you sinned, yet the spirit is life itself because you have been justified. Moreover, if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells within you, then the God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give new life to your mortal bodies through his indwelling Spirit ... For all who are moved by the spirit of God are the sons of God. The Spirit you have received is not a spirit of slavery leading you back into a life of fear, but a Spirit that makes us sons, enabling us to cry "Abba! Father!" In that cry the Spirit of God joins with our spirit in testifying that we are God's children; and if children, then heirs. We are God's heirs and Christ's fellow-heirs ..." Romans 8: 9-11, 14-18

4) "He is the image of the invisible God ... He is its origin, the first to return from the dead, to be in all things alone supreme. For in him the complete being of God, by God's own choice, came to dwell. Through him God chose to reconcile the whole universe to himself, making peace through the shedding of his blood upon the cross -- to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through him alone." Colossians 1: 15, 18-20

5) "For God is love; and his love was disclosed to us in this, that he sent his only Son into the world to bring us life. The love I speak of is not our love for God, but the love he showed to us in sending his Son as the remedy for the defilement of our sins. If God thus loved us, dear friends, we in turn are bound to love one another. Though God has never been seen by any man, God himself dwells in us if we love one another; his love is brought to perfection within us." 1 John 4: 7-12

6) "But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am now ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God."/ Thomas said, "My Lord and my God!" John 20: 17, 28.

I get rather frustrated when discussing the Trinity, or the concept of Jesus as God, and I think I'm starting to understand why. I see no consistent method in defining the word 'God' in orthodox Christianity. As it stands, God can either stand for the Triune God, God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. When the term 'God' is thus used, our understanding of the type of God who is referred to is not dependent upon a definition, but rather upon the context of the discussion itself.

For instance, take #1. The definition of God does not remain consistent. We are told that it is pivotal to Christian theology that the word of God has become flesh. The term 'God' here cannot refer to the Triune, or to the Son. It has to be the Father, for it's the word of the Father. Same with the "lamb of God." God there must also mean the Father. Then we get into God becoming flesh. The 'God' there can no longer mean 'the Father.' It now means 'the Son.' In this very paragraph, we have two different usages of the word 'God.'

In #2, the definition of 'God' there can only be the Father. God forgives us in Christ. We are God's (the Father's) dear children, we should love as Christ loved, and then offered himself as a sacrifice pleasing to God.

In #3: we start out with God's Spirit, and then there is a reference to the Spirit of Christ. Does the 'God' there then refer to Jesus? Triune? The Father? It can't be the Holy Spirit, since the paragraph is referring to the Spirit. When we keep going, it mentions that if you have the spirit of Him who raised Jesus, then that God will give your mortal bodies new life. The 'God' there must refer to the 'Father.' Can we then say that the original use of 'God' at the beginning also means the Father? I tend to lean towards that, since this holds to a definite hierarchy. Christ is referred to as God's heir, and then humanity is described as Christ's fellow-heirs (leading me to wonder if Christ is God, does that makes us fellow-heirs with God?)

#4: I believe this one is used as support verse for Jesus is God. However, the verse itself doesn't just say, "Jesus is God." It says that Christ is the image of the invisible God. The contexts makes me think this is God the Father. And then a few sentences down, in Christ, the complete being of God, by God's own choice, came to dwell. The 'God' there also seems to refer to the Father, especially since it goes on to say that God chose to reconcile the whole universe through Christ, by choice. By this same choice, the complete being of the Father came to dwell. But why mention the word 'choice' at all if this complete being is something that Jesus always possessed?

In #5: the God in use here has to be God the Father. This is the same God who sent His son, and thus proved His love for humanity. I've seen references elsewhere about how the best way God proved His love for people was by becoming a man, and dying for us. But then wouldn't it be logical to include that in a paragraph like this? To say that God is love, and thus came and died for us? Incarnated Himself for us? Instead, the emphasis is on God sending His son.

In #6: Thomas calls Jesus 'My Lord and my God.' But how was Thomas understanding the 'my God' portion? As we see, Jesus earlier tells Mary that he is now ascending to his God and her God. Wouldn't this also be the same God of Thomas? But this 'God' that Jesus describes cannot include himself, for he's not ascending to himself. And when Thomas refers to Jesus as 'my God,' it cannot be that God whom Jesus ascending to. I also wonder if Thomas really meant Jesus as God Himself. I know there are parts in the Tanakh where regular people are referred to as God ... and the idea/concept of 'God' there ironically depends on context.

I could keep going, with New Testament verse after New Testament verse. When I'm told about a crucial aspect of Christian theology, in terms of Jesus being God, and how it's obvious in the Bible ... is it really? Take any New Testament verse that gets into explaining God and Christ. How easy it is to find a clear-cut definition? More so, it seems that the idea of Christ as God relies more on inference, and the theological underpinnings for the last 1,700 years.

Jesus as God is presented as a simple fact. Defining 'God' in Christian orthodoxy is not a simple process. Too often, it gets answered by saying that the Trinity is a mystery, that we simply can't comprehend. That's fine. But how well can one "know" a mystery? If you say that you know Jesus is God, that God died for you, that God loved you that much, and yet can't explain the process past the fact that Jesus is God, then how well do you really know it at all?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Sower.

"A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the footpath, where it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some seed fell on rock and, after coming up, withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell in among thistles, and the thistles grew up with it and choked it. And some of the seed fell into good soil, and grew, and yielded a hundred-fold ...

...The seed is the word of God. Those along the footpath are the men who hear it, and then the devil comes and carries off the word from their hearts for fear they should believe and be saved. The seed sown on rock stands for those who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but have no root; they are believers for a while, but in the time of testing they desert. That which fell among the thistles represents those who hear, but their further growth is choked by cares and wealth and the pleasures of life, and they bring nothing to maturity. But the seed in good soil represents those who bring a good and honest heart to the hearing of the word, hold it fast, and by their perseverance yield a harvest."

Luke 8: 5-8, 11-16.

Some things of interest I noticed about this parable.

The first group of people seem to lack a choice as to whether they get to keep the word or not. They hear it, but then the devil removes it, so that they can't believe. Do they want the devil to remove it? And why is the devil associated with birds, in terms of the parable?

The latter group, prior to believing, apparently already have a good and honest heart, and because they have that good and honest heart, they hear the word, hold to it, and then produce some great fruit. How would this be reconciled with the idea that we're all bad people? Or that we can't have a good heart prior to the intercession of Jesus?

It's also rather work-based. The last group holds fast to the word, and because they persevere, they produce a harvest. Wouldn't holding to the word entail effort on their part? Though it might depend on what the 'word' is that Jesus is referring to. 'Hold to it fast' could also refer to faith, but then why not simply say faith?

The word is also connected with growth. It originally starts as a seed, and then must grow. There has to be some sort of end result. It's not just a matter of believing, it's a matter of what is produced.