According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Are God's Ways Like?


by Alise
Friday, July 1, 2011

Since the release of Rob Bell's latest book, there has been a lot of talk about hell. Francis Chan is in on it. The Southern Baptist Convention is in on it. Some guy I don't know is in on it.

Honestly, it's not a topic I've spent a lot of time studying. I have no idea who is right in this case. I'm only on the very beginning of reading through some of these things. But even in my very brief study, I do have some questions that won't go away. Not exactly questions about hell, but questions about hell speaks about the nature of God.

Whenever this discussion comes up it's hard for me to understand how we talk about it without putting it in human terms. Most of us are appalled when we hear about stories of torture of any kind, particularly prolonged torture. It cuts at the very nature of us to think that someone is experiencing agony. Even if they are bad by every metric we have available, torture is almost universally met with disgust and loathing.

And yet when it comes to God, we seem to have no problem assuming that this is how he operates....

He condemns people that we work with, that we go to little league games with, who ring up our groceries, who may even attend our church to an [eternity of hellish] torture. And we are to believe that this is good and just. Despite nearly all of us agreeing that torture in this life is reprehensible, we are to believe that eternal torture is just.

And how do we know that it is just? We simply say that his ways are not like our ways (Isaiah 55:8).

Here is where it gets tricky for me. Why is it that when it comes to eternity, his ways are significantly [more awful] than our ways?

As a parent, I get that just does not always mean fun or happy. I get that we might not see the full picture. But I also know that my kids have a pretty good head on them and they know when a punishment is just and when it's just me acting out in an angry, mean way. They may not always like justice, but they know what justice is.

I feel like part of being made in the image of God is that we have an ability to see that which is good. The Scripture tells us that even in our evil ways, we still know how to give our children good gifts. We have the capacity for creation, for generosity, for love. Folks frequently point to our inherent ability to know right from wrong as a proof of God. And yet we all too often simply abandon our gut instinct about the goodness or justice of Anne Frank, a Jew, sharing the same eternity of torture [of hell] with Adolf Hitler.

Over at Rachel Held Evans's blog last week, KatR commented, "I hope when I get to the end of my life I will find that God is not [as gruesome as] so many Christians insist that he is."

I hope the same thing.

+++++++

[So then], how do you reconcile the idea of justice with the idea of [hell's] eternal torture for a [person's] temporal wrong-doing? Do we have any way of understanding God's ways?

 
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