Monday, May 19, 2014

A Touch of Humor - To Impose or Not to Impose

Is there a distinction between advocating a position and imposing it? What are the boundaries?


  1. Seems like the difference depends on whether a person is in a position of power. Anyone can advocate a position but needs to have some sort of authority/power to impose it.

    1. This is true though there seem to be those who are ambitious to get into a position of power so they can impose things on others.

  2. Reminds me of that old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely. Better we work hard to influence rather than impose. For who knows, perhaps our position is incorrect to begin with?

    1. Also any values that are imposed are normally superficial. If we want people to genuinely share our values we need to persuade rather than impose.

  3. Hard to argue with that. Love persuades. Wrath imposes. :)

  4. If you want to open that whole question again we can. I will only say that I agree it is God's love that persuades us and changes us. His wrath only shows us that we need His love.

  5. Again, without examples of "His wrath" I really cannot relate to what you are saying. In my view salvation is all about the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience. The goodness or kindness of God leads to repentance - not wrath.

    1. I agree it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. But it is kindness exhibited to those who deserve wrath.

      Has for examples I am not clear exactly what you mean or what you are getting at. The final judgment is I my mind the clearest example and the most unmixed one. Jesus' turning over tables or rebuking the Pharisees seems to me to be good pictures from the human perspective.

      Are you looking for a specific historical event like the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira? We can discuss these if you want to, but I do not ultimately base my understanding on such events because they are complicated and open to interpretation. I would rather interpret the events from general Scriptural teaching than draw my teaching from such events. I am sure I would want to put any event up as this God's wrath looks like unmixed with mercy except the final judgment.

  6. My question basically concerns what the wrath of God looks like (to you) in every day life. Do you see all or some of the bad things that happen in this world as an expression of God's wrath? Do you think that such expressions scare people into salvation? Or perhaps images of biblical wrath scare people into the kingdom? Those are the things that I struggle to understand when you say: "His wrath only shows us that we need His love."

    1. My point here is that we deserve His wrath. It is not that He is unreasonably ticked off at us, but that we are sinners that deserve punishment. Therefore we are driven to take refuge in His love and forgiveness. I am not saying there is no fear involved, but it is the fear of the defendant of a just judge, not the fear of a tornado that appears from nowhere for no reason.

      Interpreting the experiences of a persons life is sometimes difficult and as I have I have said before I do not believe that the bad things that happen to us necessarily mean that they have sinned. I could see a particular person seeing a particular event in their lives as an indication that they are a sinner and in need of God's forgiveness, but that would be for them to interpret. It is not something that ever happened to me in that way.

    2. My own experience of understanding God's standard and my sinfulness and need of forgiveness came from reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). I did not know the OT stories well enough for them to have much impact one way or the other. (I do not even remember which of them I knew about. I believe I knew about the Flood, but had not yet gone far enough beyond the "Arky-arky" stage to realize what it really meant.) For me the last judgment and the second coming had much more impact that any OT story. But I cannot speak for their effects in the life of others.

  7. In reading your comments it seems that God's wrath is something that you believe is reserved mainly for the afterlife. I can understand that. Many Evangelicals hold similar positions. So I think that you may have originally meant to say:

    His promise of wrath only shows us that we need His love to escape the wrath to come.

    But I may have misunderstood. Again.

    Hope you are enjoying the long weekend!

    1. I do not disagree with what you said, though I am not sure what it clarifies, so I am also not sure I am understanding. I am not saying that no historic event in any extent reflects God's wrath though it is always mixed with mercy. But I understand the event by my understanding of the larger view of God's future judgment not the other way round. And I am reluctant to be dogmatic about any event without a clear Scriptural statement on it. But I do not know if this is clarifying anything or adding to the confusion.

      Hope you are having a good weekend too.

  8. Maybe this will help? I think that the clearest image of our relationship with God, taught by Jesus, is the prodigal son parable. A few revolutionary ideas from it:

    The Prodigal Son:
    -- strayed and went his own way;
    -- returned to the Father as a last resort;
    -- did not feel worthy of love but of wrath.

    The Father
    -- did not show wrath in any way;
    -- unconditionally welcomed the son home;
    -- showed us what God is really like.

    The Older Son:
    -- believed that his brother deserved wrath;
    -- thought he was better than his brother;
    -- did not understand what his Father was like at all.

    The Jews had an incorrect idea about God. They believed that He was wrathful. Jesus taught that they were wrong. Even though Christians have the examples and teachings of Jesus many still are attracted to a Jewish image of God.

    1. I agree with much of your interpretation but would have the following disagreements.

      The father never spoke of wrath to the younger son, because he already knew he had done wrong and therefore was ready to be forgiven. He knew he deserved wrath but the father gave him love instead.

      The problem with the older son was that he thought the younger son deserved wrath and it should be given to him. He was unwilling to show love and forgiveness as the father did.

      Deeper than this the old son thought he did not deserve wrath or require forgiveness. This was the error of the Jews of Jesus' day and many today. They think they are good enough to stand before God on their own merits and do not need to be forgiven. Their error is not believing in wrath but believing they could be good enough to avoid God's wrath rather then humbling themselves and trusting in He for love and forgiveness.

    2. So why did the Father not show His wrath to the unrepentant unforgiving son?

    3. Because he was hoping for the older son's repentance. I am convinced Jesus was trying bring even the Pharisee's to realize their need to repent. It is only by stubbornly and persistently God's kindness that someone faces God's wrath.

  9. Absolutely. The elder son could have seen the Father's love and kindness to the prodigal but chose not to. Even so, the story does not paint the Father as wrathful but as one who unconditionally loves in the face of a stubborn unrepentant son.

    For sure the Jews believed that God was wrathful. The Jewish scriptures can be read that way. Yet the Christian scriptures paint an different image. The Word became flesh. In the Incarnate Word we see the true image of God. Jesus gave us a new and revolutionary revelation of God.

    1. Certainly the point of the parable is the father's graciousness toward both sons as God is gracious toward all. Though the father does rebuke the older son it is a gracious rebuke. It does seem to me clear rebuke designed to bring him to repentance. I am not totally sure that what you mean by wrath in this context is the same as what I mean by wrath. But I do not feel I can build me whole theology based on the interpretation of one statement in one passage.

      There are many places in the NT that teach God's wrath (Romans 1:18; John 3:36; Ephesians 2:3) and many in the OT that speak of God's love and mercy (Psalms 32:1,2; 23:1-6; Isaiah 40:10,11). I do not know I am willing to simply dismiss one or the other.

  10. I agree that the Pharisees may have interpreted to OT to see God only as a God of wrath. But I would maintain this is an error on their part and not the correct interpretation.

  11. Regarding the New Testament verses:

    Romans 1:18 | God's wrath or anger is manifested (v24) in His abandonment of sinners and leaving them in the willful rebellion.

    John 3:36 | Does not show what wrath looks like until you look at verse 18 (anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son). In that sense wrath looks like it does in Romans 1:18 where wrath appears to be allowing people to experience the consequences of their actions or inactions.

    Ephesians 2:3 | Seems like God's wrath looks like obeying the devil and experiencing the consequences of that.

    So I think that the idea of wrath appears more as something divinely passive rather than something active. I resonate with that perspective. God passionately wants everyone to come to Him (i.e. repent) but will not force his will on those who reject the wooing of the Spirit. That to me seems to be the NT perspective on wrath.

  12. I have a considerable sympathy, if I understand it, with the idea of passive wrath, that sin has in it its own consequences. But even in this I see God's action. His constructed the universe in such a way that this comes about.

    Be I cannot get away from the idea of God bringing people to judgment (Matthew 13:19; 25:41-46; Revelation 20:11-15). And if God is wholly passive that implies something above God that brings judgment about.

  13. I have no argument with the idea of future judgment or wrath. It is a view embraced by many. My issue is with those who see God actively pouring out His wrath in the here and now. I simply do not see theological evidence of that.

    1. I am not totally sure I see where you are coming from here but the only place I see God's wrath clearly poured out other then the last judgment is the cross, which opens up another issue.

      Beyond that I have no sympathy with those who want to see every calamity as a act of God's wrath. I believe that suffering is complicated and can have a variety of often causes. I certainly do not think that God is waiting just to zap us if we get out of line. I would hold rather that He is gracious and longsuffering and forgiving. I am convinced the problem with those who think God is just waiting to zap us is that they do not recognize they are sinners and deserve to be zapped along with the rest of us.

      But I do see God as actively responding to sin (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:29,30; Revelation 2:22,23). Whether is to regarded as an act of wrath or love or to protect others from a corrupting influence or some mixture of things, I make not claim to be able to be dogmatic on. Much less do I want to be dogmatic on current events. But I do believe such things can occur and would fit the OT events into the same pattern.

      But I think people who want to turn God's wrath into a club to hit people:

      Are being dogmatic about things they do not know enough to be dogmatic about.

      Have forgotten that they themselves deserve to be hit with the same club and are protected from it only by God's grace.

  14. " I have no sympathy with those who want to see every calamity as a act of God's wrath"

    I apply that same principle when I read the OT. Many of the OT writers interpreted calamities as an expression of divine wrath. Good to understand such paradigms when reading the OT. But not necessary to carry such OT notions to modern day events.

    I believe that it is possible that Luke (or the one who conveyed the story to him) interpreted the death of Ananias and Sapphira from that false OT paradigm.

    I think that it is possible that Paul applied that similar paradigm when speaking of people being sick because of the way that they took communion. Unless one believes that people today are weak, sick and die because of taking communion in the wrong manner. Perhaps you interpret 1 Corinthians 11:29,30 that way as you brought it up. If you do then I would like you to offer modern examples of such things.

    Lastly, I think that it is ill advised to use verses in Revelation to speak of wrath as most (maybe all) of it is metaphor and not meant to be taken literally.

    I agree with you when you say:

    "Beyond that I have no sympathy with those who want to see every calamity as a act of God's wrath."

    From my experience many Calvinists have that view of God's sovereign involvement in earthquakes and other natural disasters. It may not be all Calvinists but many hold that view of sovereignty.

    1. I would take the opposite approach and say the OT and NT authors were able to interpret these events only because they had special insight from God into what was happening in particular cases. It is one thing to say that someone by the revelation from God can explain the reason for an event and another to claim that we can by our own reasoning consistently judge the reason for every bad thing that happens. I do not see any basis OT or NT for believing every bad thing that happens is a punishment for sin and I believe it is wrong for me without clear insight from God to jump to the conclusion any particular one is without very clear evidence..

      My problem is, what basis do I have throw out a clear paradigm found throughout the OT and NT. And does that not leave me with a meaningless book which I only listen to when I happen to already agree with it.

      I cannot speak for all Calvinists, but while I believe God is sovereign over all calamities, I do not believe all calamities are an expression of God's wrath or even His discipline. I believe that God uses bad things in our lives for many purposes, to teach us to trust Him, to teach us humility, to help others see God's work in us as He brings us through them. To conclude every bad thing that happens is an act of God's wrath is presumption and contrary to Scripture from beginning to end.

  15. I should add that I do not claim to know the reason for every calamity. I suspect many are and will remain a mystery to us until God chooses to reveal them.

  16. "My problem is, what basis do I have throw out a clear paradigm found throughout the OT and NT."

    You bring up a great point. I feel like it points us to the heart of the issue and why our discussion has gone on so long.

    Do we come to the OT scriptures with a blank slate and allow it to describe and define God to us as the Jewish leaders did in the gospels?

    Or do we allow ourselves, and our paradigms of God, to be confronted by Jesus, God in the flesh? The Jewish leaders totally resisted that change in paradigm. I do not want to be like them. I do not want to hold on to the OT writings of fallible men and superimpose their understandings of God and reject the clear image of God that we find in Jesus.

    "And does that not leave me with a meaningless book which I only listen to when I happen to already agree with it."

    I guess that depends on what a person needs from the scriptures to make it meaningful. If one needs the bible to be literal or inerrant (as I once did) then perhaps they will be left with a "meaningless book". But if one reads it and allows the Word of God to interpret the words of scripture then I believe that person will find great meaning in the bible.

    My life changed when I began to read the bible with the idea that God is good and he loves us unconditionally. It helped me when I read of Samuel demanding genocide - I understood that God could not be good or unconditionally loving and demand that innocent infants and children be murdered. So I began to understand that my problem was not the character of God but in how I read the bible.

    The scriptures are meaningful because they teach us about the character of God and the character of man. They teach us that humans have always blamed God for the awful things that they do - be it the Jews who murdered infants and children, Herod who ordered the killing of babies or terrorists who kill innocents today in the name of divine jihad.

    I do not think that the bible is meant to be a rule book. I mean really, even the strictest literalists do not stone people who carry wood on the Sabbath - and they probably eat bacon too. So even they pick and choose parts of the bible that they "already agree with".

    I see the bible more as a revelation of God in Christ and a treatise on the nature of man. I do not see the cross as an outlet for divine wrath but as a demonstration of the brutality of humankind and the unconditional love of God. The bible has much to teach us if we have ears to really hear what Jesus has to say.

    Sorry for the length of the comment. Here endeth the rant. :)

    1. One of the reasons I have not made a point of inerrancy is because I do not see that it in itself as the main issue. I cannot really expect someone to ignore a major theological issue merely by waving the flag of inerrancy. As I have said before my basic understanding of the judgment of God does not come from the OT but the Sermon on the Mount. I do not see the kind of contradiction you see here between Jesus and the OT. The problem with the Pharisees was that they misunderstood the OT and that is what Jesus repeatedly rebuked them for. I do not ever see Him telling them throw that old book out and follow something else. That is why I wrote of the Bible becoming a meaningless book, because I do not do not how I can solve the problem by simply by sticking to the NT or sticking to the words of Jesus.

      I do very much agree about the greatness of God's love, but I consider the measure of that greatness is that He loves those who deserve His wrath. If we have done nothing deserving of wrath, His love becomes a vague benevolence.

  17. "If we have done nothing deserving of wrath, His love becomes a vague benevolence."

    I think that the love that you speak of is conditional because it requires us to first sin for God to love us. It is like saying the divine love that Adam experienced in the Garden was "a vague benevolence" until he disobeyed and ate of the forbidden tree.

    God is love. He has eternally been love. His nature is love. He does not need wrath or anything else as a condition of expressing his love. But if one chooses to see him as full of wrath as the religious leaders in the gospels did - that is their choice.

    1. I do not think we need to sin for God to love us, but it clearly shows how great God's love is. Nor do I think that God's love for Adam was a vague benevolence, but if He had not cared if Adam ate the fruit it would have been.

    2. You leave me confused Mike. In one comment you indicate that "His love becomes a vague benevolence" when "we have done nothing deserving of wrath". Then you seem to agree with me that love is independent of wrath and really has nothing to do with wrath.

    3. I may not have been very clear, but what I was trying to is that God's love is shown by the fact that He loved those who were disobedient and hostile to Him and deserved judgment. If no one had sinned God would not have loved less, but we would not be able to see the full depth and greatness of that love.

      But further if God did not care how we lived. If He did not have wrath not because we did not sin, but because He did not care if we we sinned, than His love would be nothing but a vague benevolence. It would show He was concerned for our good only in a very loose general sort of way. I am not saying this is the position you hold, merely that it is one I wish to avoid.

      But my original point was not that God had to have wrath to love, but the fact of His wrath shows His love more clearly rather then denying it. Love that is never required to make a great sacrifice may not love less, but it is less observable.

  18. The more I think about this the more I understand how hard it is for so many to see God as our Father. When I consider the fact that He is my father, I am totally committed to the idea that I am not an enemy of God deserving of wrath. Even earthly fathers are not filled with wrath for their children because they see them as children and not as enemies.

    So the issue is whether one believes that Adam became an enemy of God when he ate of the tree. Or if Adam remained as a child of God that suffered the consequences of his disobedience? If he became an enemy then it is plausible that he deserved the wrath of God. But if he remained a child then the relationship with the Father did not become wrathful but remained loving.

    If we believe that God is eternally the same and does not change then we have to come to grips with His nature. Do we believe that He was wrathful before Adam ate of the the tree? Or do we believe that God changed and became wrathful when Adam ate of it? I think that it is an important question because it deals with the very nature of God and whether He had wrath before the creation of the earth. If so then heaven will be a place governed by a God who is wrathful.

    In my view God never had wrath but man superimposed wrath on Him because humans experienced wrath. It is why loving our enemies is such a foreign concept to us and why our history is filled with wars that humans believed were/are ordained by God himself. Our Father has always loved humans. He created humans with the ability to be like Him and love. Yet love by nature involves choice. And humans often do not choose to love. For me love is the issue. Will we be like God and love? Or will we reject His love and suffer the consequences of that choice?

    1. I am hesitant to involve myself in a discussion of parenting. I have never been a father. My wife suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and we had no children because she was unable to care for them. I therefore am reluctant to ask what a perfect father looks like. But is it the part of an ideal father to be indifferent to how his children behave and not even to become angry if they behave in flagrantly inappropriate ways. If they decide become a mafia hit-man or a serial rapist should he not act to correct them. Should he not even turn them into the police. I do not think God sees or that we should see the rebellion of human beings against God as mere childish irresponsibility, but as blatant acts of wrongdoing. Also God is not just a Father but also Ruler of the Universe. He cannot just turn someone over to the police. He is the highest court of appeal and if He does not deal with it who will. Again I do not see God as being an unreasonable ogre, who simply gets ticked off for no reason. I see it that genuinely deserve His wrath and He chooses to love us instead.

  19. Interesting response Mike. A few responses Mike. Perhaps you can address each:

    1) The Image of God: As a Christian, I believe that Jesus changed the image of God from the OT "Ruler of the Universe" image to one of a Heavenly Father. I do not believe that one needs to have children to understand that image of God. After all, we all have/had parents and have witnessed examples of great parenting. The question is whether we see God as our Father or as our Ruler.

    2) Sin and Wrath on a personal level: Your examples do seem to indicate a belief that God shows wrath towards people who sin. You have previously indicated that you do not see God in that light saying (I may have misunderstood) that the examples of wrath are in the final judgment. So the question is whether the expulsion of Adam from the garden (and pain in childbirth for women) was an expression of God's wrath or a consequence of disobedience? Is Adam's expulsion from the Garden an example/teaching of the direct involvement of how God expresses wrath when we sin? Many believe that (the link between sin and bad things) about sickness (i.e. Job's boils) and calamity (i.e. Job's children) but I do not think that you do. Right?

    3) The Nature of God: I do not think that your response dealt with the idea of whether you believe that God is eternally wrathful or if he changed and became wrathful after Adam ate of the tree. If he is eternally wrathful then perhaps heaven will be filled with the presence of both wrath and love. And where was God's wrath before the Creation? Did the Father and the Son argue amongst themselves? It seems reasonable if one believes that the nature of the Godhead includes wrath. What do you think?

    4) Prayer: When we pray for God's kingdom to come and His will to be done, are we asking for wrath to come down or are we asking for love to come down? The question strikes at the heart of what we believe God's will to be. Do we want His wrath or His love to be manifested on the earth.

    Finally, thanks for sharing about chronic fatigue syndrome. I do not know much about it but do know that such things can present a big challenge for a husband. My wife's disability challenges me every day and presents me with opportunities to lean into God's grace and strength.

    Peace and Grace, Bob

    1. I really wonder if we have an entirely different definition of the word "wrath". I do not see anger as totally contrary to but the appropriate response of love in certain circumstances. Can a loving God look down on the atrocious things human beings inflict on each other and not be angry with the perpetrators. I am not saying He does not love and forgive in spite of this. But I do not think the anger is unwarranted.

      1. My father was not perfect, but if he had found me involved in some kind of blatant criminal enterprise I believe he would have been angry with me. I would not blamed him for it. I would have lost respect for him if he was not.

      I do not see Father and Ruler of the Universe as contraries. I only mentioned the latter to show God cannot appeal to someone higher to produce ultimate justice.

      2. I do not see why I cannot seem to make myself clear on this one. I believe God is angry at all sin, but in love and grace He restrains the full expression of His anger until the Last Judgment. I will not say that no earlier event is never the expression of God's anger but is always mixed with mercy and more complicated then that. I am particularly opposed to assuming based on our own human reason the any particular event must be an expression of God's anger.

      I see sin has having consequences because God is opposed to sin. Otherwise there appears to be some principle higher then God which causes sin to have consequences.

      3. You seem to see God's anger as some sort of an attribute rather then a response of God to given situation. Even here I suspect anger may be something of an anthropopathism to explain God's reaction to sin in terms we can understand.

      I do not see anger and love being contraries that God changes into but expressions of the nature of the same God who is always that way.

      4. Again I do not see the love and anger involved as contraries. I see the fundamental offer of God's kingdom being love and forgiveness. And in praying for it to come we are praying for that love and forgiveness to be more clearly manifested. But there will who reject it and that will result in their experiencing God's anger in the Last Judgment.

      I do not know if you are seeing God's kingdom as present or future (I believe it can be legitimately used in both senses), but either way I see the same principles as applying.

      Thank you for your express of concern for my wife's chronic fatigue syndrome. I has I indeed been a challenge and while it is not nearly as serious as your wife's disability, it has presented me with many opportunities to trust God.

      Peace and Grace to you too, Mike

  20. I really wonder if we have an entirely different definition of the word "wrath".

    Maybe. I think that you may see (what I call) natural consequences of sin as expressions of God's wrath. Adam's expulsion from the Garden was the first of those kinds of consequences. In my view such things are a result of God giving us the choice to love and not a result of God's wrath.

    I think that "Ruler" or "King" or "Higher Power" is a term that describes a view of God that does not include relationship. I will go with Jesus on this one and stick with "Father". ツ

    The picture of God as "angry at all sin" presents me with the idea that God is schizophrenic. His angry side wants to do something but he does not act on that anger because his loves constrains Him. This view is why many are afraid of God and do not to fully experience Him. My view is that there is no dark anger, no fear in love and no reason for his children to fear Him.

    In my thinking God always acts with love. It is what we saw in the life and ministry of Jesus. It is how He commands us to act. He requires us to love our enemies. Certainly He does not give himself a pass with regard to love?

    Finally, I wonder if my version of the wrath you believe in may more resemble grief. I do think that the Lord is grieved when we stray. His heart mourns for his children when they do bad things. Yet I do not see active expressions of God's wrath in the world. You say that you do but have not offered any present day examples.

    1. We seem to have reached an impasse here and I do not know what farther to say. I do not believe real love can simply look on evil and oppression and injustice and not be angry and not act. I have not problem with the word grieved, but I do not see it as purely passive. Nor can I see how to separate consequences of sin for God's cause it to be that way. I do not see how in is schizophrenic to be angry with sin and choose not to express such angry. I believe perfect love casts all fear, but I believe that is a process you go through not an assumption you begin with.

      I do not see what to point is of asking for expressions of God's anger today. I am not a prophet and do not claim have the insight to make such judgments dogmatically. For instance I might guess that Adolf Hitler losing the war and dieing in a bunker in Germany was at least partly an expression of God's anger. But that would be just an opinion and this is case that looks reasonably clear. To go out and and make dogmatic statements without clear prophetic insight would be wrong. But as I have said I do not see any event as purely an expression of God's anger before the last judgment.

      But the bottom line is I believe human behavior deserves God's anger. I do not believe God is unreasonable and touchy and flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. I believe we are unreasonable and obstinate in rebelling against Him and He is gracious and long-suffering under the circumstances.

  21. Impasse? Maybe? A few thoughts about your comment.

    "I do not believe real love can simply look on evil and oppression and injustice and not be angry and not act."

    I agree. In my view, love (not wrath) motivates us to act in loving ways to help others. I think that Jesus loved the sellers at the temple. Turning over their tables was a loving act not one of wrath.

    "angry with sin and choose not to express such angry"

    I have asked many times about how you see God expressing wrath or anger and you have only alluded to future judgment. That seems to paint God as one who is not angry enough to prevent sin or consistently mete out consequences.

    "I do not see what to point is of asking for expressions of God's anger today."

    I ask because you believe that God responds with wrath towards sin. I can offer you many ways that God responds to me and others with love. He fills me with compassion when I see people who are hurting. He brings members of his body to comfort me when I am hurting. When I pray to be more like Jesus I do not asked to be filled with wrath towards sin but with unconditional love towards others.

    "I am not a prophet and do not claim have the insight to make such judgments dogmatically."

    Neither am I. Yet it seems reasonable to read the bible and discern clear teachings about things like wrath and how such wrath is expressed. Surely God, who does not change, responds towards sin in a consistent way throughout history? Do you disagree?

    "But the bottom line is I believe human behavior deserves God's anger."

    I do not see that wrath or anger in Christ but understand that many do.

    1. Sometimes I feel we are arguing over words. You seem to see love and anger as total contraries and I do not. I am convinced that anger is the proper expression of love in a given circumstance. I agree that Jesus' act of turning over the tables in the temple was an act of love. He wanted them to recognize that what they were doing was wrong and repent. But that does not mean He was not genuinely angry at their deeds.

      I despair of making clear what I have been trying to say about the final judgment. I have said God does not does not act in unmixed anger before the final judgment. There is always with it an offer of mercy and option to repent. If God were to mete out punishment on sin now, it would be the final judgment. But that time has not come yet He is still offering us an opportunity to repent.

      Also at the present time there are bad things that happen to those who are following God, to help them grow and to make them stronger. That is why I am unwilling to make dogmatic judgments without prophetic insight, I may not know the true nature of the situation.

      I there is a point where we are called to stand up against injustice, whether William Wilberforce against the slave trade or Martin Luther King against racial discrimination or Nelson Mandela against apartheid. I believe that as Christians we must do it in a loving, gracious way, but there is a point when Christians should reflect God's anger with wrongdoing.

      If by unconditional love means that God reaches out to people however far lost in sin to forgive and restore them, despite the act they have done nothing to deserve it, I agree. If you mean God does not care how we behave, I do not.

      Yes I believe God behaves consistently throughout Scripture. That is my point. You seem to be asking me to throw out most of the OT, much of the NT, and much of the words of Jesus to fit your concept of who God should be. And I do not see any adequate basis for it.

  22. Hard to believe that it has been over a month since I first commented here. In retrospect I think that we simply read the scriptures with a different image of God. You see Him eternally mixed with love and wrath. I see Him eternally mixed with love and goodness. And yes I know those descriptions are lacking but it is the best I can come up with at this moment. As a result of these different views of the eternal God we debate the minutiae when our issues are really how we see and understand God.

    The love of God has freed me from the fear of a wrathful God that I once imagined. The goodness of God has helped me understand that he is not one who orders biblical genocide. I see only purity in God. I do not see one who orders wood-carriers or gays to be stoned. When I suffer and hurt I find him to be a loving father and not a wrathful ruler. This view has changed my life and has drawn me closer to the Father.

    All that said, I must say that I really appreciate your patience in our discussion. I respect your views. Years ago I held very similar ones that I learned in bible college. So I do understand where you are coming from. But I do not think that it is fruitful to debate wrath or genocide or such things any more. We have both expressed our views on such things in detail and I believe that we understand each other fairly well.

    I appreciate you Mike. Perhaps one day we will discuss such things over a cup of coffee. :)

    Blessings, Bob

    1. I agree that we have probably reached the point where we have thoroughly expressed our views. We do both agree that God is not a harsh taskmaster just waiting to zap anyone who is slightly out of line. I do not know about your bible school, but there are definitely those out there that seem to take that attitude. I just do not feel I need to throw out large portions of the OT to avoid that conclusion.

      Perhaps someday we will get the opportunity to discuss it over coffee.

      Blessings, Mike