Saturday, August 28, 2010

Careful that love for love does not turn into murderous intent

Here is an excerpt from a discussion in which I’ve participated, part of which I blogged about here. Read that post first. I’m also discussing these issues at a depth afforded by a written forum. Again, I emphasize that in a normal conversation, one might need to stay a bit closer to the surface. Note that I have removed any names from the discussion, though the discussion is public.

I personally cannot think of a better reason not to seek the love and beauty of Christianity than by reading your responses here. You preach as though you're understanding is absolute. You rant on without have the slightest clue who you're preaching to.

The God I love is love itself. She is compassion, beauty, hope and most of all, love. He does not condemn me, sentence me, punish me, but instead, eternally loves me and holds me close in my time of need. The God I know is not in a bible where only one absolute truth can be gleaned.

I know of no braver and stronger individual than my friend... She is a reflection of God in action and her place in God's love is secure.

I wish you the best... The scripture from Matthew is beautiful.

My interlocutor wrote:

"I personally cannot think of a better reason not to seek the love and beauty of Christianity than by reading your responses here."

Which merely demonstrates that you just do not like God as He has revealed Himself. You like a god on your terms - a god of your own making. And this is turn confirms that my understanding of who I am speaking to is quite accurate: You don't like God, like everyone apart from God's sovereign saving work. Like me before someone told me the life-saving and pride-obliterating truth which I'm retelling to you, which I only accepted because for some reason God decided to open my cold, wicked heart to the truth.

Moreover, I surely wouldn't agree with your understanding of the 'love and beauty of Christianity', which apparently has little to do with the Christianity that Christ established. So I don't think it's a bad thing that MY responses cause people not to seek YOUR version of 'Christianity'. If they did, God help me.
"The God I know is not in a bible where only one absolute truth can be gleaned."
Then we agree that you just don't like Jesus. Which is what Christians expect of people apart from the grace of God.

As for speaking in absolutes, that's the thing about revelation. It provides an epistemological foundation upon which one can know the truth about reality.
Here are the absolute statements that you made in your reply alone.

"The God I love is love itself.”

"You rant on without have the slightest clue who you're preaching to."

"her place in God's love is secure."

I could go on. You preach as though your understanding is absolute.
The problem is that by denying God's self-revelation in the Scriptures, which you do here - "The God I know is not in a bible where only one absolute truth can be gleaned" - means that you reject any foundation upon which you could consistently make such absolute statements. I make absolute statements because they are grounded in God's self-revelation. You are simply saying things that you have made up. Why should I believe them? And why would you presume to challenge me for making an absolute statement when your condemnation of me is piled with absolutes? That seems a bit hypocritical. On what ground do you suppose that what you have said is more than just your opinion? My intuition tells me that you're wrong. Why do you claim that your intuition is absolute truth and mine isn't? And if you don't intend to make this claim, then you admit that what you say isn't binding on me, or anyone else. So why did you say it?

Another observation:

"I personally cannot think of a better reason not to seek the love and beauty of Christianity than by reading your responses here. You preach as though you're understanding is absolute."

This is an interesting statement. Apparently the goal is to get people to seek the 'love and beauty of Christianity'. Yet, speaking with absolutes doesn't do this. But making an absolute claim is really the only way to communicate the 'love and beauty of Christianity'. Otherwise, you're can't say it's true at all. So the only way to communicate the love and beauty of Christianity is to say that the love and beauty of Christianity may not really exist - 'I don't really know, it just feels good!'.

Unless, of course, the thought is that you should only say those things about Christianity which are nice to hear. But that's hardly credible, for Christianity, from both a redemptive historical and a systematic point of view cannot be carved into hermetically sealed chunks.

Not to mention such a perspective puts one into the category of those who tried to throw Jesus over a cliff in Luke 4. 'Love for love' can quickly turn into murderous intent.

Luke 4:21-29
21 And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" 23 And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself.' What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well." 24 And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.

Notice that others want me to speak nice, kind, gracious words, according to their terms. That's what those in Jesus' hometown wanted. "22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth." That's a tempting thing, the applause of men. But Jesus goes on to say some things that they just don't like to hear, such as God's refusal to assist starving widows in Israel, while he fed a Sidonian! So what do they do to Jesus? They quickly become enraged. The 'love and beauty of Christianity' does not come on their terms, so, "When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff."

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