Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Not flirting anymore...

It is always interesting to me that many Christians get uncomfortable if you emphasize the love of God too much. They always want to toss in a "but".

Yes, God loves you but there is justice. Yes, God loves you but have you repented? Yes, God loves you but what about your sin?

Yes, but... Yes, but... Yes, but...

My boss always bristles in a staff meeting when someone says "Yes, but". She says the but nullifies the Yes. It is an oxymoron.

I have been flirting with Universalism over the past few years. Universalism believes in the complete reconciliation of God and man. As Julian of Norwich said in the 14th century “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well…” Somewhere along the way Universalism ceased to be a flirtation. It became a truth I see throughout scripture.

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Notice the two events here? Reconciliation and Salvation. I always saw them as the same thing, so why is Paul separating the two? I believe it is because we are reconciled. Period. So what is Salvation? I believe it is the process of becoming like Him.

Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full".

Peter said that we are to work out our salvation. That verse never made sense to me earlier in my faith. Why did I need to work out a gift? I see now that I do not have to. The gift is reconciliation! AND God wants to gift us again by re-making us into the likeness of his Son.

God's love for me does not depend on me. His acceptance truly is unconditional. Now I am invited to move on in Him.

This makes sense to every parent. You want your child to become all they can. You want them to love and be loved. What could they do to make you turn away?

Not a thing.......

That doesn't mean we will not discipline or be disappointed with our children.... but turn away?


The Father of the prodigal eagerly awaits the return of the son.

Bart Campolo reminds us that 1 Cor. 13 is not a passage about romantic love. It is a passage about GOD! According to 1st John, God IS love! So let's read 1 Cor. 13 as it describes God.
  • God is patient
  • God is kind
  • God does not envy
  • God does not boast
  • God is not proud
  • God is not rude
  • God is not self-seeking
  • God is not easily angered
  • God keeps no record of wrongs
  • God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
  • God always protects
  • God always trusts
  • God always hopes
  • God always perseveres
  • God NEVER fails

Nope, the but just doesn't fit.


Redlefty said...

Beautiful, brother.

It changes everything. Redemption is not in question, but your salvation journey has some wonderful steps ahead, I think.

To me, Paul defined salvation as the "renewing of the mind", or as "living up to the calling". The perspective that the battle is over, redemption is complete... and now we get to share in creation by making and spreading our own little pieces of perfect, divine love in the world.

bunabear said...

This post is brilliant.

Last month at church we attended a class on the subject; Atonement Theology.

The Canon Pastor conducting the class said that people of faith reflect on life for meaning and why. We are not satisfied with; just because.

What about the idea of salvation as in salve? (I could just visualize God spreading God's love and mercy on me like a soothing ointment on a very painful wound. Healing and delivering me and human kind.

Excerpt Nicene Creed:
For us and for our salvation (substitute word: healing) He came down from heaven.

Andrew, the way you reflect on meaning is one reason why I find many of your posts so uplifting.

I might write about this too. Another point she made was Atonement Theology versus Participation Theology. this was an interesting look at the idea of a "fast vs slow God."

The class was only 1 hr. so it was just an overview but it was great.

1st Cor. 13 about God (instead of romance) is such a beautiful meditation. Thanks for posting that.

OneSmallStep said...

**Yes, God loves you but there is justice. **

One thing I really like about universalism is that it doesn't put love at odds with justice. Rather, it focuses on both. God's justice demands the elimination of evil, and the reconiliation of all His creation. If one person remains lost/in hell, then justice has failed.

I think we see this in the Tanakh a lot -- many of the writers looked forward to the type of justice where the helpless were rescued.

Andrew said...

Red - I agree with your comment on Paul's definition. I think this is why in many circumstances, we are failing to see repentance (turning around) amongst many believers. We have turned Christianity into an acceptance of certain belief points rather than "a way" as most early Christians believed. Marcus Borg says:

"Moreover, when you think about it, faith as belief is relatively impotent, relatively powerless. You can believe all the right things and still be in bondage. You can believe all the right things and still be miserable. Believing a set of claims to be true has little transforming power."

BB - Healing is right. :) I think I started to shift years ago when I began to view people as broken rather than rebellious. Rebellion implies understanding. Jesus spoke truth and his voice was heard when he asked the Father to "forgive them... for they know not what they do". I think Paul also gets into this in Romans 7 where he laments the sin nature that he is "bound" to. He also seems to imply that it is separate from him and one day he "will be saved from this body of death".

OSS - I like that. So often, the view of Universalism is that it denies justice... but in reality, true justice is things being made right.

Brook said...

"Moreover, when you think about it, faith as belief is relatively impotent, relatively powerless."

You need to watch that Karen Armstrong video I put up on my blog a few months ago. She talks about this directly, and that point in history when belief became synonymous with mentally accepting certain things to be true...prior to this, the way we use the word "belief" wouldn't have made sense to anyone.

Mystical Seeker said...

Great post, and I agree. There is no "but" to love. Love just is, without conditions and without exceptions.

Logan said...

Atonement theology makes me want to vomit.

Great post!!

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