Category Archives: Character of God

Justification By Faith Alone – Maybe We Need a Second Look

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In 2011 a colleague and I formally debated the resolution: “On the day of Judgment, God will declare Christians just, not because of anything done by them, nor because of anything worked through them or done in them, but solely because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.” This is a statement of the classic reformed doctrine of justification, a doctrine on which Luther claimed the church either stands or falls. In Reformed theology this is the gospel that one must believe in order to be saved. In other words, the gospel is that Christians are declared righteous before God’s tribunal because of faith alone on the exclusive basis of the righteousness of Jesus charged [imputed] to their account. This debate proved to be a watershed for me in my theological development because it was a moment of clarity. Read more

Sympathy for the Judaizers

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curse_you_light_bulb__by_leif_j-d2zljf4[1]“If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed [anathema].” The Apostle Paul dropped that rhetorical atom bomb early in his Epistle to the Galatians as part of his verbal combat with the Judaizing Christians (probably from the church in Jerusalem) who had gone behind Paul and convinced the Gentile believers that they must keep the Torah (receive circumcision, observe the Sabbath, eat only “clean” foods, etc.) as well as believe in Jesus if they were to participate fully in the new covenant community and enjoy its benefits. To declare someone “anathema” (accursed) was a devastating condemnation. Anathema is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term hêrem meaning “devoted to destruction.” A curse found among the Dead Sea Scrolls captures the force of the curse Paul was pronouncing on his foes: Read more

Reading the Bible Backwards

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imagesGR6P4MEHIs it possible for God to look at us with love and empathy while simultaneously manifesting his justice in wrath that demands our destruction (apart from Christ) as an offense to his holiness?  Does our dominant perception of God (Father or Judge) shape the way we relate to him and our fellow human beings?  If we stand in a different place in order to gain a perspective on him, will it alter our understanding of His character? Read more

The Character of God Reconsidered

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61095524Today I sat in a seminar designed to teach effective principles of communication, and as the presenter explained that poor communication originates with our disordered inner selves, I began to think about the nature and character of God. The thought materialized in my mind that here was a flawed human being who recognized and strove to overcome his dysfunction and who looked at a room full of twisted, messed up people with empathy for their plight.  His inclination was not to think them deserving of annihilation or eternal torment because they are in this condition.  Read more