In my interactions with more fundamentalist friends, I’ve noticed a trend. These friends insist on the existence of absolute truth. They also insist that this absolute truth is knowable and that it’s accessible through the Bible. The more they insist on speaking about absolute truth, the more they seem closed off to what others have to say about what they regard as truth.
As we go forward in these turbulent times, we need to keep some things in mind. I think ALL sides need to keep open minds. I believe that those of us who are ‘heretics’ are just as likely to close our selves off from others’ input as we claim that our opponents are doing towards us.
Thomas Kuhn (1962) noted that in historical retrospect, science is done paradigmatically. It goes through seasons of ‘revolutionary’ science, punctuated by stable periods of equilibrium or ‘normal’ science.
Hans Küng (1988) asserted how paradigm change in theology (see diagram to right) has produced four constellations of macro-theology within Christianity (Ancient, Medieval, Reformation, Modern) in distinction from its founding Kingdom paradigm in the first-century. Küng argues that a ‘contemporary’ paradigm in Christianity beyond these prevailing thought systems is forming in our time.
… We must lead the church from the future, not just the past.
More and more I am hearing of the tension between the different paradigms that plague Christendom. No where is this more evedent than within the reviews of Brian McLaren‘s new book A New Kind of Christianity. I hope to be picking up my copy in the next day or two, so look forward to my version of a review. The very fact that this book is raising up such a whirl wind of discussion/ debate [attack?] leaves me to think that this is a much read book for any one who is in a position of influence.
that we haven’t really taken seriously enough what it means to call Jesus the Word of God. We’ve made the revelation of God in Jesus less formative than Deuteronomy 7, a bad reading of Rev 19, etc.
Is much of evangelicalism guilty of Bibliolatry? I say we tend to interpret Jesus through our image of the scriptures, rather than let our image of God through the revelation Jesus interpret the scriptures.
In relation to redemption, who do you say that God is?
There are three different conclusions that are equally biblical:
- God’s redemptive love extends to all. It is His will that all come into a redemptive relationship.
- Because of who he is God will accomplish his will. All that He desires to be redeemed will be.
- Some will never be redeemed. They will be separated from God, they will perish, or they will suffer conscious eternal torment.
Each of these statements can be backed up in the scriptures. But at any time, only two will ever be true.
Calvinism: God wills that only some will be redeemed. All of these will be redeemed while the rest of humanity will suffer whatever awaits them after this life – they will perish, become totally separated from God or they will suffer eternally in a tormented state. God is God and He will accomplish this! (2 & 3) God’s redemptive love does not extend to all.
Arminianism: God loves and wills for all to be redeemed; however, many will not be in the end. (1 & 3) God’s will that all be redeemed will not be realized.
Most of today’s believers would have no problem picking a side in this historical debate between Calvinists and Arminians. Most would also generously call the other view sufficiently orthodox. But who is the God of these options? If these are my only choices, I am left with a choice between an unjust and unloving God, on the one hand, and a defeated God, on the other.
No matter how you spin it, the Calvinist’s God is a cruel monster who creates many to be cast aside at the end of times. Don’t get me wrong, this may be who God is. But if this is God, I will take the high road and rise up in rebellion against him even though I spend eternity in hell. As Richard Beck say’s, “God is not worthy of my praise just because He is God; He is only worthy of my praise if He is Good.” And to be completely honest, much of the imagery of God in the Bible is not worthy to be praised. A God that calls for human sacrifice(Genesis 22:1-18; Joshua 7:15; 1 Kings 13:1-2; ), the slaughter of innocent babies(Hosea 13:16; Psalms 137:9) and the genocide(Joshua 1:18; 6:21; 10:40-41) is not a God that I will follow.
On the other hand, the Arminian’s God is a) unloving or b) impotent. If God has the power to give eternal life to all but chooses to let unknowledgeable men to choose death, He is like a parent that lets her infant child to run into the midst of a busy freeway in order to not override that child’s free will. I know of no one who would say that such a parent was not guilty of horrendous evil. That leaves us with a God who would save all if he could, but he can’t. He does not have the power to challenge man’s freewill. This is the closest God in the Calvin and Arminian camps that I could follow. The only thing that would keep me from this is if this God created the universe. Because if he created the universe, he did it in a way that condemns many, if not most, of humanity that ever lived.
Am I left with any other option?
How about a God who desires all to be saved and will accomplish His desires! (1 & 2) This is a God worthy of my praise. The sad thing is that though Christian Universalism/ Ultimate Reconciliation is a) no less biblical and b) the most Good image of God, it is the one that the majority of Christians reject as a damnable heresy.
That being said, I am completely satisfied to be called a heretic!
[to be continued]