Saturday, July 24, 2010


How we view God is terribly significant. That we view God a certain way is the result of many things is a factual statement but, basically, all of our experiences of life, good and bad, lead us AWAY from a biblical view of God which I believe is the correct one.

But, unfortunately, we can even come away from scriptures with a twisted view of God if we allow human philosophies and human reason to give impetus as to how we view the God of the scriptures rather than just what the scriptures themselves say.

Take the idea of God being "Judge." [Hence, the post title made famous by comedian Flip Wilson.] God is the judge you know. The bible says so. In Psalm 9:8 the Psalmist says this.. "He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice." In Acts 17:31 it says He has appointed a day in which Jesus will judge the world in righteousness. Notice both verses speak of God being judge and connects it to His Righteousness and His desire for justice.

But when we say the word "judge" what do we usually mean? We generally mean someone who impartially views all evidence and pronounces us guilty so we can be punished or innocent so we can be set free. The key word here in our thinking is "impartially."

The reason we think this is because our Western Civilization is built on a view of law and order that is based on a legal standard that measures us and clinically [think scales] assesses our guilt or innocence to be adjudicated by that Judge who had better remain detached if he is to be fair. Our entire system of justice depends on that viewpoint of an impartial and objective judge with no stake in our case.

But the God of the bible, who is our Judge, is far from "detached" or "impartial." He doesn't think objectively with no stake in the case before Him. He's on our side and love is His character even His very nature and mercy is in His heart toward us.

It is true that you may not be fully cognizant of this as you read the Old Testament. But you will when you see the Old Testament as preparing for the New Testament and see Jesus as the full picture of who our God__ who judges__ really is. In scripture God as Judge brings justice and don't forget that biblical justice is not basically "punishment" but "SETTING THINGS RIGHT."

This is clearly seen in Isaiah 1:17 where it says... "Learn to do right! SEEK JUSTICE, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow". Notice the context of setting things as they OUGHT to be rather than the idea of punishment.

I'm not saying that punishment isn't part of the process, just that it isn't the MAJOR part as most modern Christians seem to think. Which, by the way, leads invariably to a concept that God the Father is cold, calculating, angry and, while detached from us, gleefully punishes us for our sin because He's our JUDGE. But that's our western mind at work, as I've said earlier, and NOT the declaration of the bible.

In scripture the justice that God desires is one that brings healing and restoration to broken relationships. It is His__ The God of the Old and New Testament__ seeking to relieve the pain and suffering our sin has created that is what the Cross is all about. So biblical justice is to be seen in the work of the Cross as much as biblical Love is. GOD is at work in Christ bringing justice and love together in a fashion that denies Him EVER being impartial or detached from those who have to suffer the consequences of our choices that started with Adam in the garden and continues to our own day and our own choices.

So we see that love and justice are not mutually exclusive. You don't find the God of the Old Testament as a Judge angry and wanting nothing to do with mankind and the God of the New Testament appeased. Justice and love are both the very nature of God demonstrated on the Cross. Jesus died BECAUSE He loves and desires justice. The Father planned BECAUSE He loves and desires justice. The Spirit gives life BECAUSE He loves and desire justice.

What this means is the Cross is the expression of the very heart of GOD in both justice AND love. So the Cross deals with our sin [Our missing the mark] and it's consequences which are death. [Separation in more ways than one.] Now in justice AND mercy the God who loves can lavish that love on us because the wrong has been righted to all who turn to that Cross. It is truly a work of GRACE from the heart of a GRACIOUS and LOVING God who is our judge AND Redeemer.

The Cross is to be seen as a RELATIONAL move on God's part as much as it is a judicial move. His heart for us is never removed from us even because of sin. He loves. He made a way for us to be back in a personal relationship with Him. He is just. [Makes things right.] He is God. We can trust Him and learn to love Him back all because of that Cross.

"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice".( Isaiah 30:18)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting Life."

WOW. When I read back what has just been written I recognize the implications to me personally. Not just in a personal redemptive way but as way of life. In other words, if I truly reflect and reveal the God of the bible I will do so in love AND justice. Racial, gender, class, social, along with every other kind of injustice, will have my full attention.

I will NOT be overcome with a desire to punish people for wrongs done, though wrongs do have consequences even legally, but I WILL be overcome with a driving desire to make right those wrongs.

On top of that, I will be more concerned with my relationship with people and loving them than I will be their correctness in understanding any system of belief. To those people I will present the One who even used the Cross personally to gain a relationship with them and I won't forget that. Ever.

Paul B.


Christiane said...

" . . the Sun of Righteousness
shall rise
with healing in His Wings "

from Malachi 4

Paul Burleson said...


" I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations… A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory" (Matthew 12:18-21

Christiane said...


to me, the most complete revelation of God's perfect justice united with God's perfect mercy IS the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.

It is a great mystery to us, that God IS perfect justice, God IS perfect mercy; and in Him, the two are not in opposition one to the other at all.
By coming to know Lord Christ, we can enter into that great mystery, as we see the reality of that mystery played out in Him, as He was with people, when He was among us.

Paul Burleson said...


I think you've said it as well as it can be said. I'll just add..."AMEN."

traveller said...

Paul, this is a very important posting. You are absolutely correct about how many of us have misinterpreted the idea of the justice of God. It is mostly about healing, restoration and redemption, not about punishment.

Again, you are absolutely correct when you say this changes how we relate to others. N.T Wright in his book "After You Believe" makes the point that in Galatians when Paul speaks of there being neither Jew or Greek, slave or free, nor male or female, this is not, as many say, only about soteriology, or only "spiritual". To the contrary, Paul is speaking how within the community of Jesus followers all these distinctions completely disappear. So, this is not about some "spiritual" dimension which is separate from our physical lives but being a Jesus follower actually makes a difference. So, race/ethnic barriers, socio-economic barriers and gender barriers are all eliminated among Jesus followers.

Sadly, in much of the church today we have allowed the Greek/pagan/Gnostic idea that spiritual and physical are separated to influence our thinking so that we fail to actually see our "spiritual" influence the "physical". Not surprisingly then the rest of the world looks at the church and says, rightly, your beliefs make no difference in who you are and how you relate to others. Which leads to another sad conclusion: It is no wonder they do not wish to join us in this misguided view of what it means to follow Jesus. We are guilty as charged.

Paul Burleson said...


Wow..a tremendous assessment of where we are today and where we could be if we correctly read and understood scripture. Thanks you.

Aussie John said...


You said, "......I will be more concerned with my relationship with people and loving them than I will be their correctness in understanding any system of belief."

As another Paul once said,"So be imitators of God, as his dear children.Live in love as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice, a fragrant aroma to God"

What a joy to read someone who doesn't have a sheriff's badge on the cover of his Bible, and whose messages are as overflowing with God's great grace in Jesus Christ, as this word of yours is.

Yes, "the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law" and He is both " just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus".

As Traveller said, "It is mostly about healing, restoration and redemption, not about punishment."

It's more about The Loving Father, than The Prodigal Son!!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Good words indeed.

I've come to see that the Cross really does show us who God has always been. Like the father of the prodigal was always the father. But the wayward son saw him differently after his journey.

Our Father has always been longing for us, merciful toward us, and moving heaven and earth on our behalf.

Thus when I see Jesus calling the castoffs, healing the broken, loving the unlovely and finally dying on that Cross, I know all the time He was simply showing the FATHER as He's always been. That is Grace in action moving toward you and me. That is God. That is to be our life message and lip message.

Christiane said...

"Thus when I see Jesus calling the castoffs, healing the broken, loving the unlovely and finally dying on that Cross, I know all the time He was simply showing the FATHER as He's always been."


Chris Ryan said...


I've said more than once that it is hard for me to pray that others "get what they deserve" when I am so thankful that I do not. It is not that this is a plea to let unjustice go unnoticed. It is a plea that mercy be applied to all involved: that the victim may have their legitimate needs met (revenge does not count as legitimate) and that the perpetrator may be brought to repentance and forgiveness (not punishment).

Like you, I wish that we could set aside our notions that God is an impartial judge. What's more I wish that we could set aside the notion that God is partial. I know a great many people who believe that God has a preferential ruling for the poor - perhaps that is the effect of attending a seminary that has a great many moderate and liberal students. But if God is on the side of anyone, then God is on the side of everyone. Far from that making Him impartial, that makes Him the most biased judge around.

traveller said...

Chris, you make an interesting point about God's loving/caring for everyone, not just the poor. There is no doubt that this is true. It is even likely that those who speak of the disposed, poor, etc. misunderstand scripture in this regard.

However, I would suggest the reason the Bible makes its references to God's love for the poor and dispossessed is because in the current fallen situation there are inequities that in God's coming Kingdom will not exist. In other words, God does care for all in such a way that each will be equally loved and cared for in the coming Kingdom. In my view, it is appropriate to recognize that in the current fallen situation there are those who take advantage of others and deny them what God intended for them. God is only "partial" in the sense that he wishes to correct the failures of the fallen world's systems and people to reflect his equal caring for all.

Chris Ryan said...


But as you point out, such a partiality is to favor equity, not to favor one demographic over another. There are many with much to gain by God's Kingdom coming in its fullness, and many with much to lose, because of the inequities of the current state. But to presuppose that eschatological gain constitutes preferential treatment - or, worse, that it warrants one a higher place in the Kingdom for having so lacked (and I've heard that I don't know how many times) - is to misunderstand the nature of the Kingdom entirely. For there will be no want, but neither will there be excess. There will be no hunger, but neither will their be gluttony. What we see in scripture is a leveling out of resources that have heretofore created economic imbalance and injustice.

I get the feeling that is what you are saying as well, but I hear it so often misrepresented that I cannot help but spell it out.

traveller said...

Chris, I agree with you exactly. You just said it better than I did.

Paul Burleson said...

Chris, Traveller,

I have to confess to you that I'm as lacking in the concept of the Kingdom yet to come as I am any single thing in scripture.

I believe it is coming but having moved to an understanding of the real New Covenant and, thus, having my former ideas of the Dispensationalist view of scripture change so much, the replacing of them is slow in coming.

I would be interested in what you guys have to say on the subject of the Kingdom. I've read George Ladd, who hasn't, and Russell Moore to name a couple but, frankly, am not sure what either is REALLY saying.

The Kingdom now/yet to come concept is clear but what that Kingdom to come will look like is totally unclear to me except, obviously, the rule/reign of Christ is understood.

Give us some clear, concise, statements, if you would, about it's relation to the Church, a new heaven and earth, etc,

Rex Ray said...

I believe your post is about ‘wisdom’ from the standpoint of knowing how God is a ‘righteous judge’.

Many good statements have been said about God’s love and justice, but there seems to be lacking “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord” which is recorded in Proverbs 14 times. Also Job said, “He [God] said to mankind, “Look! The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom.” (Job 28:28)

Fear is also being afraid we will hurt God.

You said, “It [justice of God] is mostly about healing, restoration and redemption, not about punishment.”

What do you do with Jesus saying?
1. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet…I assure you: It will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (Matthew 10:15)

2. “”And you Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until today. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you.” (Matthew 23-24)

Traveler, you said, “the rest of the world looks at the church and says, rightly, your beliefs make no difference in who you are and how you relate to others. Which leads to another sad conclusion: It is no wonder they do not wish to join us in this misguided view of what it means to follow Jesus. We are guilty as charged.”

Without listing years of events (that’s bragging of course), I’ll tell of two that refutes what you said.
1. “Why are you helping me?”
“I’m a Christian.”
“Say no more – I understand.”

2. “We came to this church because a SS teacher chose to be late rather than pass us up when we were broke down on the highway.”

So Traveler, get that mouse out of your pocket. :)

Paul Burleson said...


I will neither presume to nor attempt to speak for Traveller__but__for me__ the antecedent word "mostly" in this.."It is mostly about healing, restoration and redemption, not about punishment."..can be read with the word "punishment also. So the statement does reflect the thesis of my post quite well.

Also here..."We are guilty as charged.” Forget the "mouse" in his pocket. That's me in said pocket whether anyone else is or not.

Chris Ryan said...


I have a post-dispensationalist perspective, too. At one point, I was convinced that Tim LaHaye had it figured out! Then I took a class on hermeneutics and began to analyze his. : )

I'll honestly admit that I have read neither Ladd nor Moore. My ideas are shaped largely by Hauerwas, Bonhoeffer, and Lewis (and while the Bible should go without saying, I will include it so that others don't think, "Darn kid. Whatever happened to just reading and believing the Bible.")

One of the things that I find most fascinating eschatologically about the Bible narrative is it's structure. We begin in paradise, there is trouble in paradise, the trouble gets worse, God intervenes, things get better. If you are familiar with the cyclical nature of the book of Judges, expand that to the cosmos and that appears to be the Biblical metanarrative. Creation, fall, intervention, improvement, repeat.

In Judges, we always get back to a state where things are okay and the cycle is constantly being *completely* fulfilled. In the metanarrative of scripture, the cycle is constantly short-circuited. Rather than "creation, fall intervention, improvement, creation..." we see "creation, fall, intervention, improvement, fall...". The creation/recreation never happens.

What I think we see happen in the eschatology of Revelation (especially Revelation) is that the cycle finally culminates in "(re)creation." The whole cosmos is brought 360 degrees from creation to creation - and in this final act God stills the cycle (the "Millennium" is thereby understood as metaphoric and not an absolute time period). There is a New Heaven and New Earth, both the perfect manifestations of God's original intent for them. And that perfection extends to all things: the cosmos, politics, economics, knowledge, ethics (and in all of these we see that our ability to relate to one another -and God - is perfected thereby).


Chris Ryan said...

I think the real debate is how the intervention and improvement take place. Classic amillennialism would say that Christ (in cross and resurrection) is the ultimate intervention and thereafter things gradually improve until the created order is perfected. Dispensationalism makes Christ (in cross and resurrection) the penultimate intervention - making possible our salvation but not yet intervening so that the cycle is completed - and there is yet a cataclysmic intervention whereupon the "improvement" part of the cycle is instantaneously completed and is almost synonymous with recreation.

Personally, when it comes to this last bit I hold to a modified dispensational perspective (and is closer to amillenialism than dispensationalism, but I'll explain what I have to say it is dispensational nonetheless). Since the events of cross and resurrection, I think we've seen the cycle repeat (albeit, with the short-circuit) too often to say that no final intervention beyond the cross and resurrection events will be required. So I think that there will be a time where God dramatically intervenes, producing the Kingdom in all its fullness, and that this intervention and improvement will occur over a compacted time schedule. But since I still think that rapture theology is bunk and that when Revelation speaks of a tribulation it metaphorically speaks to life in general, LaHaye and I will still never see eye to eye.

Now to copy and paste this book and send it in for publication...

P.S. How does the church relate to this? It anticipates it, proclaims it, and fallibly tries to embody what it knows to be coming. One of the greatest hindrances we have in this, I think, is a historic inability to see the church as anything other than a spiritual entity concerned with spiritual things. In the NT, we see that the church is an economic entity as well. And both the Gospels and Paul have incredibly anti-Roman political implications if you read carefully. But our rugged individualism makes it hard to picture the church as a body-politic or body-economic. Perhaps that is changing, however. I have hopes.

Paul Burleson said...


Now that's what I'm talking about. ;)

Excellent thoughts and well stated. Don't worry about length. I may put some of these in post form before it's finished anyway.

Traveller, Aussie J, Rodney and any and all who will, chime in on this, please.

Someone address, along with what Chris said, the Church's relationship to the Kingdom a little more in depth.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

By the time I entered into Southwestern in 1992 I was already moving away from being a Dispensationalist. Dr. Tommy Lea introduced me to Historical Premillialism and I found much to appreciate from that perspective.

It wasn’t until 2005, during a doctoral intensive in hermeneutics at Liberty that my professor introduced me to D. Brent Sandy’s work “Plowshares and Pruning Hooks” that I began to look seriously at the literary approach to Biblical interpretation.

Understanding the scriptures from a thematic point of view has been enlightening. For me the recurring themes (as stated by Bonhoeffer) of Creation, Fall, and Redemption (Ryan’s “intervention, improvement, and re-creation” I believe) have opened my eyes to a Biblical understanding of History. Obviously, “Redemption” is a present/future and finished/ongoing concept that will find complete expression at the Second Coming.

Chris (I think I read you correctly) refers to this thought as “cyclical” and I think he is correct though I believe it has a linear aspect to it as well. Though I may be simplifying it a bit, I think that a big problem is that eastern thought is more cyclical and western thought is more linear. When you throw in our “American rugged individualism” (What does the scripture mean to me) we miss some of the big themes presented in the Biblical story and by default the implications they have on believers (i.e. The Church).

For example God has always raised up “a person or group” (People of God) for relationship and impact (i.e. Kingdom work). People are agents in the process of redemption (intervention and improvement) thought they are affected by (are agents of) “the Fall” (The Big one and little ones!).

From my understanding, Creation and Re-Creation (Resurrection fits here) are the areas of history that only God can accomplish. The other parts we are invited to participate in (as God uses us to fulfill His purposes ie Kingdom work). Sometimes we may even hinder the process a bit but in the end God will “re-create” or as you said earlier "SET THINGS RIGHT"

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Part of the idea behind the realty that God "has redeemed/ is redeeming all of creation" is this:

God is not only is going to set thing right. He is setting things right. In a sense, He set things right at the cross. (through the incarnated bodily crucifixion, death, and ressurection) of Jesus. Yet, He is also setting thing right in the incarnated bodily expression of Christ... the church.

Where we are crucified with Christ, dying to self, and living in ressurection power. We lovingly relate to the world, at times we suffer and sacrifice in service to it. At other times we are agents of "intervention and improvement" in His name.

Paul Burleson said...


You and Chris both mention a cyclical process..."For me the recurring themes (as stated by Bonhoeffer) of Creation, Fall, and Redemption (Ryan’s “intervention, improvement, and re-creation” I believe) have opened my eyes to a Biblical understanding of History."[Judges is seven cycles of failure, God intervening with a judge to correct the mess, growth, falure and it starts all over again. As I times is recorded.]

This reminds me of 11 Corinthians 3:18 where Paul reminds the Corinthians of what may be exactly that process [which he doesn't describe at all] as he shows how we're changed from glory to glory.

Taking the word "glory" to mean the "manifested presence of God," which the word does mean when properly defined from the Greek, I'm wondering if that cyclical thought may be here also.

This doesn't make sense unless I can draw it so I'll wait til I do.

Good stuff guys. Let's keep some thoughts flowing if you would.

Rex Ray said...

You’re correct that God’s work is mostly about healing, restoration and redemption, but that’s not what the ‘mouse’ referred to. The mouse referred to this:

“The rest of the world looks at the church and says, rightly, your beliefs make no difference in who you are and how you relate to others. Which leads to another sad conclusion: It is no wonder they do not wish to join us in this misguided view of what it means to follow Jesus. We are guilty as charged.”

I believe this type of thinking creates an elephant in the room since Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:19)

The elephant is: its bad enough the world prevails against the church without Christians agreeing they’re right or that “we are guilty as charged.” Did our salvation not create a ‘new person’? Have some gone so far as to?

“…regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Hebrews 20:29-32 Holman)

On the other hand,

“NAGALAND, India (ABP) -- Baptists in Nagaland defended themselves against charges of anti-Catholic bigotry after villagers tore down a Catholic church because the town allows churches only of the Baptist denomination. The controversy has generated widespread media attention pitting Catholics against the Nagaland Baptist Church Council. Villagers constructing a Catholic Church in Anatangre were stopped July 9. The building was dismantled and construction materials were confiscated.”

Paul Burleson said...


I got what you were referencing as evidenced by the phrase I copied and pasted ..."We are guilty as charged.” It was the final words of this...“The rest of the world looks at the church and says, rightly, your beliefs make no difference in who you are and how you relate to others. Which leads to another sad conclusion: It is no wonder they do not wish to join us in this misguided view of what it means to follow Jesus. We are guilty as charged.”

I don't agree that an elephant has been created by that statement at all since I DO believe the true Church can periodically fail and be in need of renewal without disbelieving the truth of the "gates of hell shall not prevail against her."

As I said..I find myself in that pocket of having failed periodically and the world recognizing that fact. The present condition of the Church in America is rightly articulated by the above paragraph, IMO, notwithstanding our ultimate victory in the faith.

Aussie John said...


I too, am lacking in any concept of the kingdom yet to come, and after a lifetime of thinking, talking, and reading about it, I've come to the conclusion that there is only one way I ever will do so. That way is just around the corner now that I am a septuagenarian.

I have heard, and read so many absolutely certain pronouncements, and heated arguments, regarding the kingdom, that I am satisfied with what Scripture reveals.

My concern, which is heightened by what is happening on the church scene everywhere on this planet, is that Jesus words to Nicodemous regarding the kingdom of God is less important than the opinions held about other matters, which have nothing to do with the essentials, such as Jesus told the disciples in John 13:35; 15:12.

Jesus, Himself, is both the key, and the door, to the kingdom, "I am the LORD;I have called you in righteousness;I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people,a light for the nations,to open the eyes that are blind,to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness."

Christiane said...


Your words remind me of this video:

scroll down on this site below, a little bit, and play it and I think you will why:

Aussie John said...


Thank you! I am blessed.

Mrs. Austin said...

"So the Cross deals with our sin [Our missing the mark]..."
"GOD is at work in Christ bringing justice and love together in a fashion that denies Him EVER being impartial or detached from those who have to suffer the consequences of our choices that started with Adam in the garden and continues to our own day and our own choices."

Basically if I understand this correctly Jesus died on the cross because thousands of years earlier the first man and woman "sinned." And because they "sinned" it is presumed, I guess, that everyone after will "sin."

Now if this is correct there are some big problems with it.

Now I'm not sure what the Bible calls "sin" exactly but I hear it can range from having sexual thoughts to murder.

Do you not find this whole concept of being forgiven for human nature dehumanizing?

Your interpretation basically says we need to be saved because we are human. That nothing we(humans) do can take away the shame we(humans) have unless we accept that God's death on a cross as a gift for being who we(humans) are.

The simple fact that we need to be saved for something we have no control over(being human) seems so unmoral and dehumanizing. Or even to be saved from something someone else did that you had no voice in or could even oversee.

Humans "sin", make mistakes, have sexual urges, curse, take drugs, listen to rock music, disobey their parents, break laws...Yes they do all these things but it is human nature.

To tell people that from birth they are born defective and need to accept a God death to be resolved of the defect is simply awful.

For merely being human you are nothing but a "sinner."

I have accepted being a human for awhile now and see no need to dehumanize myself by feeling bad for being something I have no control over.

Paul Burleson said...


I've been away from my computer for a couple of days and am leaving momentarily for a couple of more days. So..I will not be able to respond with any thoughtfulness until early next week.

But because I appreciate Mrs. Austin's willingness to comment and because I have a very different understanding of what sin is from what has been stated in her comment, I will want to give some kind of definitive viewpoint eventually. But til then, this, which I read from someone else, is quite good I believe.

"Jesus when describing sinners uses terms like "blind, naked, lost sheep, sick. All non-condemning descriptions of weakness and victims rather than of deliberate maliciousness. The New Testament does not see sinners as the Hollywood version of broad shouldered villain with glowing red eyes and a deep voice, or as the fun party-happy care-free sinner, but of a lonely dirty pitiful heroin addict hoveled up in a corner."

"Accusatory condemning terms like "snakes and vipers", or "son of hell" were reserved in the New Testament for self-righteous religious Pharisees who claim they were independently blameless or Christians who knew the truth but denied the Holy Spirit and led others astray."

Mrs. Austin said...

"All non-condemning descriptions of weakness and victims rather than of deliberate maliciousness."

But you are still saying we are victims. That there is something wrong with being human. That we need to be saved from our weak victim self. And I simply disagree immensely.

"...but of a lonely dirty pitiful heroin addict hoveled up in a corner."

I would not compare humanity to being a heroin addict. And the simple fact that Jesus looks at his "sinners" that way is disturbing.

traveller said...

My apologies for being MIA. I have been traveling, hence the name, and had no time to review the additional comments until today. I will need a little time to digest all the comments. But I will respond shortly. Seems to be a good dialog.

Paul Burleson said...

Mrs Austin,

I'm back from my trip and will reply to your comments.

I'm too old and experienced with life and dealing with broken shattered human beings that resulted from something evil [sinful?] in other human beings to even entertain the thought that evil [or sin] doesn't exist. I've stared into it's face.

We could disagree even quarrel about the depth, definition or even origin of evil [sin?] but of it's reality I would have no question at all. Whether it's sexual abuse, racial prejudice, rape, murder, abandonment, deceit or the garden variety hatred of those who are different or disagree on issues of life because of pride, I've seen it all. I've even had to deal with it in my own life.

So, while I do see and appreciate the nobler qualities that can be found in human beings, I'm all too aware that evil can be found in those same human beings, myself included, to a greater or lesser degree.

As I said, the source or cause of that evil/sin may be debated and discussed but it's reality cannot be denied by any thinking person.

Albert Einstein for example was stymied over the problem of evil and suffering. He knew there had to be a designer of things. But he agonized over the character of that designer. How could God be good, and yet allow terrible things to happen to people? Einstein couldn't resolve the problem of evil and suffering with a good God. So he turned completely away from the God of the Bible, the God he had been raised in Judaism to believe in.

What really tripped up Einstein was that he was a determinist; that is, he viewed human beings as complicated machines. But my point is he was in touch with the evil in mankind that caused him to decide about it's origin in a manner that is different than my own. But evil he saw.

So I do appreciate your comments on sin and, in fact, have been given an idea for a future blog on the subject. But our disagreement will be on origins I'm sure, because the fact of the presence of sin/evil even in the best of human beings is undeniable.

Mrs. Austin said...

"...because the fact of the presence of sin/evil even in the best of human beings is undeniable."

So if I am understanding this statement correctly you are saying that everyone is evil/sinful. And because everyone is evil they need Jesus to get rid of that evil or accept people because they are evil. Jesus loves us despite being evildoers. "Jesus died BECAUSE He loves and desires justice."

I disagree with all of the above. People are not inherently evil. Because I am born and live does not mean that I am evil or have evil inside me.

There are bad people in this world, yes. But we have a criminal justice system that punishes these people.

What you might consider to be evil is not evil but simply human nature coping with life and the struggles of the world. [lying, cheating, masturbation, divorce, homosexuality, affairs, sex before marriage, depression, not believing in God, so on and so forth] These are not evil acts and they do not make a person evil.

Fear is a strong emotion that I think religion likes to feed on. If people are afraid that they are evil and need to be saved from this evil then the religion has succeeded in its goal. And that is all "sin" is, a fear tactic.

"So the Cross deals with our sin [Our missing the mark] and it's consequences which are death."
(What mark is it that we have missed?)

Interesting blog. Love reading new information about Christianity and seeing what you have to say to my comments.

Paul Burleson said...

Mrs Austin,

No..fear is just a human emotion. Quite justified at times. Some times quite foolish. But all the time just a human emotion.

It is the desire and willingness to do harm to others and even ones' self through utter selfishness that is the essence of evil it seems to me. That is missing the mark for the purpose of our being I would say.

And, yes, I do believe we are all flawed with that selfishness to some degree.

I choose to see all this in biblical terms of our creation as human beings and our needing a relationship with the God who made us for that relationsip and our ability to then relate wholesomely to each other all of which has been lost along the way.

This all figures into my understanding of the Christ of the Cross in ways that may take a lifetime to fully appreciate.

I also think one can be a sane, non-fearful, even intellegent person and hold this view of things.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on things like this!!

I too enjoy a conversation about matters raised on this blog from time to time. Thanks for joining in.