Hawaii 2010

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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Deliverance of God continued

It is a bit embarrassing to have to argue with Christians that God is love. It makes them uncomfortable. They need to add asterisks to the statement less anyone take advantage of that declaration. They are sure that God loves them…for they have led largely sober and upright lives, and therefore…what’s not to love.

Campbell makes the point that once Jesus is proclaimed in the New Covenant, then the God who demands absolute perfection and threatens wrathful retribution is gone. The truly earthshaking and radical proclamation that God loves sinners, before they repent is so blunted by our insistence on justice triumphing over mercy, that we end up rebuilding the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile and replace the names with Christian and non Christian. Campbell believes our methods of evangelism have been affected deeply by importing bad theology into Paul’s introduction of the transformational gospel.

I am so impressed by the job that Richard Beck at Experimental Theology is doing in reviewing the book that I can’t stop reading even though I want to continue working through the book. I am about to read his attack of the citadel of the Lutheran reading of Romans. I really appreciated the historical retelling of how Augustine, Calvin, and Luther were not so consistent in supporting the frame of penal substitutionary atonement and justification theory. He even suggests that a more mature Calvin would have accused justification theory of conversion as semi-palagianism. For my readers unfamiliar with the lingo let me restate. Calvin would have believed that there was too much free will and human ability in the two step move from conviction to repentance.

I heard a song by Kristyn Getty where she reminded us that the gospel seeks to set the captives free while we rail against the evil one. The church today too often rails against the captives and dreams about how good it will be to see them rolling around in the lake of fire. If I am overreacting, understand that most of my experiences with Christians loving sinners is good, but those who stake their orthodoxy on an angry God are not nice when you cross their theology. I am not whistling dixie on that thought.


Andrew said...

"It is a bit embarrassing to have to argue with Christians that God is love."

Heh! Ain't it the truth!? My theology has always been a little too liberal for many in my circles, but I have found nothing is more offensive than proclaiming the unconditional love of God. :)

I am curious about the professional level of Campbell's book. Do you think it is something a layman could pick up? or is it pretty technical?

Don said...

Andrew, a bunch of folks are asking me that, and my answer is that I rarely part with 42 bucks for a book. And the 1000 pages are for scholars, he is building so strong a case that he wants no one to say, I disagree, without arguing against his points. I really think you get enough from Becks reviews to make your own decision.

Redlefty said...

My experience is the same as both of you, in that God's love can become a very explosive issue for Christians.

If something like universalsim even gets hinted at, accusations of unfairness, jealousy and futilism of righteousness get quickly slung about. It all smacks of 11th hour worker to me! And I admit that I felt the exact same way several years ago when exposed to systems other than penal substitution.