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Posts Tagged ‘judgement’

Why I can’t get over Calvinism

March 3, 2011 16 comments

I have, over the last few years, tried to understand Calvinism as well as possible. I’ve looked for ways it could possibly give a picture of a loving God that is similar to the God I’ve found revealed in Jesus Christ. To my dismay, however, I’ve only kept failing at this task.

One defense that I’ve seen is basically that Calvinism does say that everyone who comes to Christ will be saved, that he turns away no one. That the “unregenerate” sinners can choose to repent if they “want” to. The problem is, of course, that their “Total depravity”, their “deadness” in original sin, prevents them from ever even being able to consider the thought of repenting. They apparently all “hate God”. And so, while all might have a “choice” to repent and come to Christ, only those who are irresistibly drawn by the Father to come to Jesus to be born again and regenerated by the Holy Spirit to be given a new heart, CAN ever repent. Basically, it’s as if Jesus is standing to the right, and all the sinners are tied up in strings to the left, and the Father from eternity had chosen to cut the strings of  only a few of the guys to the left, so they could ever come to Jesus.
In my eyes, this is just another way of saying we don’t have a choice in the matter. Regardless of what specific breed of Calvinist philosophy you adhere to regarding the logical order of election, all Calvinists seem to claim the following things about God:

  1. After the Fall of Man, all men are afflicted with total inability to repent as a result of original sin. Calvinists disagree on whether or not Man was free to obey God in Eden or not. Regardless, this is “Total Depravity“.
  2. God does not need to consider free will in saving human beings – He intervenes and forcibly transforms an unwilling heart into a willing heart.  (“Irresistible Grace“).
  3. Hence, God would be able to save all by doing this to all, if He wanted to.
  4. However, God chooses to only pick some people to be saved, entirely arbitrarily. (“Unconditional Election“)
  5. God does all of this for his glory. In fact, the ultimate point of Creation is to glorify God. Everything else is unimportant in comparison.

If this is incorrect in any sense, please correct me. From all my research, this seems to be a fully correct view of Calvinism, though.

I don’t really care if Calvinism affirms that we have a theoretical choice to repent if there is absolutely no actual choice. It’s not that I need to have a certain number of words attributed to God to be at ease. The point is that God sees our supposedly utterly and completely lost state, and chooses to only do something about it to some of his lost creation. Does he even truly love humanity, then? Does he love the person he didn’t elect as much as the person he does elect? The general Calvinist answer seems to be “not really”, which I guess answers my question. God arbitrarily chooses to love a few.

To get at my problem more clearly, this is the image I get from the (soft version!) Calvinist view of election:

God created creatures with a free will of some sort, which was built-in with a horrific backfire mechanism that came into effect the moment a sin was committed. Once they sinned, they were caught in God’s trap, where only those he arbitrarily chose to “love” would be saved, while he would angrily look at the ones he didn’t choose and say “Love me! Except you can’t. I can make you do what I want you do to do… BUT I WON’T! Because that wouldn’t glorify me as much. I’m still gonna tell you what you’ve ought to do, however!”

Then at the end, he judges these two groups entirely based on whether or not they were picked by him, sending those he didn’t pick into eternal, tormenting hellfire. All of this, essentially being based on the action Adam and Eve chose, ages before, with every sin subsequent to that only really being a chain reaction from that original backfiring mistake, that God knew they would make from all eternity.

Can you please, please, tell me what I’m getting wrong in this picture. Because I’ve tried and tried, but in fact, the picture is only getting clearer and more horrible. I know those sent to Hell are supposedly really punished for the sins they committed, rather than mainly for the original sin. However, I don’t see how punishment is ever due to someone who genuinely had no choice in the matter. In the end, it’s REALLY all based on whether or not they were elected by God.

So what am I to say? I cannot help but be disgusted by this. Calvinists claim that the reasons for God choosing not to save is “for his glory”. First of all, when was eternal suffering considered glorious? What messed up picture of God assumes that God considers eternal torment and punishment for sins committed by a person who had no choice in the matter to start with, displays His glory? And finally, how is that picture of God in any way, shape or form, related to the picture of God displayed in the character and life of Jesus Christ, dying on Calvary for the same people who crucified him?

Here’s a short case for Resistible Grace that has a great analogy 🙂

Babies, Law Court Judgement and Christ

February 10, 2011 5 comments

It’s been a while since my last post, especially in English. I might make yet another post later on to answer “what’s up?”, but I’m posting for another reason now. I was notified by my friend Lisa Greer this morning about Greg Boyd’s latest post on “Baby Universalism and Reasonable Infanticide“, and I realized I have quite a few thoughts on this. So I wrote her a reply, which I realized would work out as a blog entry! It sort of assumes that you have read Boyd’s blog entry, however, so if there’s anything unclear, it might be a good idea to read it.

This is a question I’ve been wondering about for years, but no one else has brought it up, so Greg did what he usually does and asks the question no one else dares to ask. I’m totally with Greg on this. Any logically and morally inclined person who seriously believes in baby universalism should wander around murdering all the babies within reach, as well as forcing mothers into having abortions. It reminds me of an atheist I met once who said that if he was a Christian (as he understood them), he’d force people into accepting Christ by any means possible, damning himself if he had to (Rom 9:3). When you think about it, the notion that God gives a free pass only to those who don’t enter into adulthood makes our lives into nothing more than a cruel joke. It basically gives a thumbs up to all the teenagers who kill themselves: “Good idea, there’s absolutely no good reason to continue striving in this world!”

I understand and sympathize with the basic view of God and babies that makes one assume God would never condemn a baby who hasn’t started making conscious choices, but in the end, I think this scenario proves the absurdity of “Law Court Final Judgement“.

Most Western Christians assume that the final judgement is a scene where Humanity is standing before God, and those who have consciously signed the Jesus-contract in their earthly lifetime are magically Jesus-protected from God seeing their sin. Those who haven’t consciously signed the Jesus-contract in their earthly lifetime, however, won’t be prevented from God seeing their sins, and so God’s alarms will go off and he’ll throw them into eternal hellfire, regardless of anything those people might say when they get into heaven, because they are all radically morally totally depraved sinners who hate God anyways.

When Baby Universalism is connected to this view of the Final Judgement, babies are presumably either given a free Jesus-contract, or they simply commit no sin that the Father has to torment them for. I think both these alternatives are weird. In my view, (original) sin taints all of creation, and although it depends what kind of infirmities God is looking for, babies are not perfect. Free will also doesn’t “pop up” at the age of 11-12 in children, they start making choices independent from their instincts very early on.

If God made an “exception” in the law court system to babies below the arbitrary age of accountability, does that mean he gives exceptions to people who had a bad upbringing? People who started hanging out with the wrong people in their teens? People who got bullied in school? If we wants to keep any consistency here, we should just say that God should give an exception to everyone, and accept universalism. The other option within the law court system is to go the other way with election instead, and just change God’s character so that he enjoys sending people to Hell. That works too.

One major problem with the West is that we view sin so individually, and primarily juridically. Sin taints all of creation, and it is contagious like nothing else. Everyone is at one level guilty of sin, and yet everyone is at one level a victim of it as well. This is why we in the confession of sins say: “Through my sin I am guilty of more evil than I understand on my own”. This reality about the nature of sin makes it hard for me to see how Western Law Court Justice can ever be appropriately meted out. It’s so pervasive, and it doesn’t seem to be fixable by punishment.

Because of this, I am less inclined to believe God’s problem with sin is that his Divine Justice must be fulfilled by meting out Just Punishment to all those guilty, which in the end turned out to be redirected to Jesus/Himself. You’d think the Crucifixion would be a lot more intense if God needed to pour out all the punishment and wrath on the God-man on the cross. Especially when you consider that the cross, according to this view, was supposed to be the punishment for all humans replacing our punishment in eternal hellfire, due to sin against the eternal God (by finite beings…). You’d think the punishment due to Jesus (if comparable with eternal torment) in this view would be more like a billion nuclear bombs exploding and imploding on him over… well, eternity? That’s not to say Jesus did not experience things beyond what met the eye on the cross. He assumed all of humanity, and thus, without having sinned himself, “became a curse for us”, and “bore our sins”, so all the weight of our evil was upon him in those last moments.

This is something I will explore as I write my essay on the Atonement, by the way, but it is not that I deny all substitutionary or legal language for the Atonement, but I believe the introduction of Western Human standards of justice into God’s character is a large reason why people can’t see the beauty of God in Christ, when he takes upon Himself the Sin of the world. He took on our sins as something that is in ITSELF horrific. Sin is horrific and deadly, not God. The only reason God’s holiness is dangerous is because Holiness (wholeness) exists, and sin, distorted creation, ultimately doesn’t. It is not creation, but yet we cling to un-creation when facing God. No wonder it is dangerous to fall into the hands of the Living, Existing God like that. You can read what I’ve previously written on sin and salvation here. But there is nothing inherently scary in God’s character. God, in Jesus Christ, took on all of Sinful Humanity and lived it out (without sinning) to its logical consequence, death. When God had finished that, the Old Adam was brought to his end, and Jesus Christ destroyed sin, death and the Devil who had lived as a parasite on that fallen humanity, and rose victorious on the Third Day, creating a New Humanity in Him.

I think the view of sin within the Orthodox Church, which Greg Boyd seems to share, is more compatible with the loving character of God as perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ. God’s problem with sin is that it damages us and our relationship to Him, each other, ourselves and everything else. He wants to heal us, but we flee from Him, in fear that He will judge us and accuse us. Who is the accuser? Not God, but Satan. We have made God into Satan, by assuming that his greatest problem with us is his punitive anger against our sins. In reality, it seems the only reason He reminds us of our sins is to simultaneously ask “Will you stop holding on to that and give it to Me, please?”. All He asks is that we stop making our tormentors (Sin, Death and Satan) into our lords, and make Jesus Christ our Lord instead. Through choosing to return to Jesus Christ and taking part of His New Humanity through the Incarnation, we are given a new identity in Him as righteous and holy. We are then to put on Christ’s Humanity  and put off Adam’s humanity every day, so we may walk and continue the Life of Christ on Earth, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Heb 2:14-18; Rom 13:14; 1 Cor 15:22,45)

Here is a wonderful passage fleshing out (pun not intended) the wonders of the Incarnation and its centrality to our salvation:

But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

-The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2:9-18

And also:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

-The Epistle to the Romans, 6:4-13

From my understanding, in the Eastern view, the Final Judgement is about whether or not there is a sign of Divine Life inside of us, whether or not we take part of the Divine Energies that God wants to envelop us in. He gives them freely to all who seek His Face, and in the end, He will be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). When this happens, the love of God will envelop everything. Those who refuse to see the truth of who God is, however, will experience His love as torment and wrath. They will not experience it this way because God created it such, but because their lord Sin has become their guide to how to interpret everything they see, like Gríma Wormstongue in Lord of the Rings. Heaven and Hell are the same place: the loving prescence of God, but He will not force Himself into anyone’s mind.

So Hell is a reality in our minds, and a state of mind that I’m sure all of us have already tasted. That is not to say, however, that being freed from Hell is a mere decision and change of mind. It is a deadly mind virus and a parasite, and if we do not let the caretaker of our souls, Jesus, uproot it, it could take over our entire existence, and harden our hearts towards God. As for what God in his loving-kindness will ultimately do to those who end up in this situation, I don’t know. As I have previously written (in Swedish), although with a lot less clarity on the nature of Judgement, I think there is Biblical support for the view that all that is not in accordance with God will be as if it never existed. However, I am not certain of this view, and in the end, I can only look to Christ and know that He is Good.

As for the babies, then… I don’t believe our souls become inactive after death. I think we are either purified or hardened against God. As I have to assume there has to be some point in staying alive on Earth, I believe babies must be given the chance to choose beyond this life instead. But I think Boyd gave the answer to this question in his blog post and elsewhere. As I said before, in the end, I can only hope that God will be God in all situations. If I see Jesus, I see the Father, and Him who “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3, verbatim).

Kyrie eleison! Lord, have mercy!

Being freed from sin

September 5, 2010 1 comment

A few years ago, the gaming community “Pure Pwnage” was a huge part of my life, and it remains a part of my life that is dear to me. However, since mid-2008, I haven’t frequented it much, but I made a reply to a specific question I was asked by a “theistic satanist” on the boards. I wrote the reply, and thought I might post it here as well, in case anyone else would be interested in it 🙂

Out of interest why do you feel Jesus frees you? Is it the high amount of sins you’re not supposed to commit or have? The thought of having to go to church every Sunday?

Well, first of all, we have very different concepts of sin. According to today’s society, “sin” is basically synonymous with “fun”. This definition derives from various Puritan and policing movements that have claimed association with the teaching of Christ in various ways. The very original sin from which all other sin derives is the idea of taking the judging of good and evil into our own hands, and making ourselves gods. This mindset has driven and is still today driving people, perhaps especially religious people, to “police morality” from above, to force people into various standards of morality. This is not what Jesus did – He served people, and searched for the broken and rejected to heal them and restore them into the life they were meant to have – but only if they WANTED TO! This behaviour is supposed to be the model for the Church today, but unfortunately we’re not that great at following it as a whole…

So, I don’t deny that believers in Christ have, throughout the ages, done horrible things in the name of Christ, including murder, torture, lies and all other kinds of sin. I confess that *I* have done horrible things in the name of Christ throughout my life. Confessing such acts and turning away from it is part of following Christ.

Anyways, to get back to your question, I define sin differently from the common thought. I see sin as a disease, a black cancer on the creation that God made us to be. I might add that I do not think the first humans were absolutely perfect, as evolution shows. However, I do think the relationship to God that the first “life-breathed” Homo Sapiens had, was intact and whole, until they, however many, went their own way, collectively.

This is sin, to turn away from the source of Life Himself, and instead to rely on oneself. It’s not the image of an obsessive parent trying to micro-manage our lives, and then gets mad when we stay out past 9 pm or something. That’s not the sort of control or the kind of relationship God wants to have with us.

A better picture of God and Man is that of a father and a young son (or mother and daughter) out on a hike together, and walking in moderate distance from a deep ravine, when all of a sudden the son runs away, starts tumbling down the slope, hurting and bruising himself in various ways. The father cries out, tries to stretch out his hand, while the son refuses, instead deciding to jump further down. As this happens, the father climbs further down, all for the love of his son, who would never survive without the support of his father. It’s not about control, it’s about love.

So why do I say that Jesus has freed me? Well, as I said, I define as sin all the things in my life that separates me from a true and real view of myself, from a loving and harmonic view of all others and most of all, the beautiful, living, colourful relationship with God I’m supposed to have. As for what particular actions exemplify sin, I’m have no reason to list – it’s the heart attitude that Jesus is most of all after (see Matthew 5), and then it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict believers of these things in their own lives. Only in close relationships between believers are we to “judge” or rather discern sin in each others lives, with love, and not with condemnation. But it is not my job as a Christian to point out to non-believers what I find to be sin.

But the attitudes that lie behind our actions are really the root of all evil. Egoism, hatred, judgement, desiring after things that aren’t mine to desire (be they people or things), and all other things of self-indulgence that only leads to further egocentrism. All these things, I abhor.

But my faith, trust, life, love in and for Jesus Christ as the one who defeated sin, death and suffering with his self-sacrificial love poured out by his death on the cross, has, is, and will continue to restore these broken relationships in my life. Being continually saved/healed from my sins, frees me to love others as Christ has loved me. And that is the ultimate expression of freedom that a human being can experience: to love others in the same ways and that Christ loved us. It’s a life project, but it is SO WORTH IT.

Categories: Theology Tags: , , , , ,

Pat Robertson är bara en osmidig, optimistisk gammal man

January 19, 2010 6 comments

Det är roligt med bloggkollsfunktionen på Dagen.se – Att se hur folk rent av snubblar över varandra i att vara politiskt korrekta och säga hur fel Pat Robertson har. Och visst gjorde han ett ganska osmidigt uttalande, för att vara TV i alla fall. Det intressanta är ju dock de falska slutledningarna som görs av alla. Pat Robertson är väl som känt inte kanske den mest smidige, och jag skulle knappast ställa mig bakom hans uttalanden i övrigt, men jag försöker ta det uttalandet för sig.

Om man lyssnar på vad Pat faktiskt sade, så kan man se det på flera sätt. Mitt första intryck (från det första klippet, samt slutet av det andra), är att killen är en riktig optimist. Jag tror knappast att hans tanke var att säga att folk skall muntra upp sig, utan snarare (på en kanske rätt osmidigt sätt) tala in någon sorts hopp i situationen.

Jag skulle vilja hävda att källkritiken i hans påstående att haitianerna skulle ha gjort någon sorts pakt med Satan tidigare i historien är inte så viktig för poängen han verkar göra. Problemet han belyser tycker jag främst är att pakter med onda andar är vardagsmat för en stor del av det haitianska folket, i deras folkreligion Voodoo. Grejen är ju att det inte nödvändigtvis behöver vara Gud som skickar plåga – tydligen har ingen reflekterar över tanken att det kanske kommer från annat håll!

Jag tror att Pat Robertsons poäng egentligen var att haitianerna inte bara är i behov av materiellt och fysiskt stöd, men även frälsning från voodoo, magi och religionsblandning! Glöm inte bort att killen faktiskt säger detta för att UPPMUNTRA folk att stödja dem!

Nu kanske ni undrar varför jag skrev om det här? Normalt blir jag bara trött av uttalanden av folk i stil med Pat Robertson, och televangelister är väl knappast mina största idoler… Men grejen är den att jag blir provocerad att ta motsatt åsikt så fort alla, ateister som kristna som USA:s regering, hoppar på PK-tåget för att fördöma allting som kan uppfattas som kontroversiellt, utan att ens tänka efter vad det underliggande budskapet är…

Jag tror att det bara rör sig om en optimistisk, aningen förvirrad gammal konservativ evangelikal gubbe som försökte lysa upp situationen för hans tittare och öka stödet, vilka nog till stor del delar hans uppfattning kring Guds dom i tiden. Det var nog inte främst ett försök att ytterligare skuldbelägga haitianerna (som jag väljer att tolka det), utan snarare ett försök att ge nöd för människornas frälsning…

PS. Angående Haiti är det naturligtvis fruktansvärt vilket lidande som finns där, och jag uppmuntrar alla att göra det de kan för att hjälpa folket! Se även här: http://blog.ihop.org/general/haiti-relief-effort/

Annihilationism, dubbel utgång och helvetesläran

January 3, 2010 7 comments

Jag började för några månader skriva en artikel om min syn på den dubbla utgången och framför allt då vad som händer med de som går förlorade. Jag har uppdaterat den under en längre tid, och kommer nog att fortsätta med det också. Det är ett ämne som är både väldigt impopulärt, känsligt och kontroversiellt inom den kristna kyrkan i väst, och liksom Clark H. Pinnock skriver i introduktionen i sin artikel i boken “Four Views on Hell”, behöver kyrkan ta tag i den här frågan på ett eller annat sätt för att inte förlora all trovärdighet.

Artikeln jag har skrivit och fortsätter att jobba på, är helt enkelt mitt försök att ta tag i den här frågan, utan att bortse från en enda bibeltext. Min syn får typ problem med en enda formulering i en enda vers i hela Bibeln (Upp 20:10), medan de flesta andra synerna i min mening får problem med både fler enskilda verser, men framför allt med hela den bibliska världsbilden och sammanhanget.

Jag har själv rört mig från en traditionell syn som barn, till en universalistisk hållning för några år sedan, till en allt djupare respekt för Guds dom och vrede över ondskan. Men på samma gång som min Gudsfruktan har blivit större, har min bild av Guds kärlek blivit större, och jag har därmed inte återvänt till den klassiska synen på förtappelsen. Den här artikeln är alltså ett försök att beskriva var jag står nu, vad jag kan se i Bibeln, hur min Gudsbild ser ut, samt vad jag tycker att problemen är i den traditionella synen. Den är långt ifrån perfekt, och jag skulle nog kunna skriva en bok om det hela en gång. Men jag publicerar den här nu för att jag vill få en dialog.

Jag försöker inte hävda mig själv som någon som vet bättre än åtminstone 1700 års kyrkotradition. Jag vill inte heller ses som någon som bara med sina känslor vill förmildra Guds straff och dom. Istället vill jag fråga teologer och folk omkring mig om ni inte också tänkt på de här frågorna kring både bilden av Gud samt de texter jag tar upp.

Här är länken:

Annihilationismen

Jag hoppas att ni läser allt, och kommentera gärna på något sätt, någonstans! Respons är det jag mest av allt vill ha – kritik, uppmuntran, förmaning… Vad du vill, men jag börjar bli trött på att skriva kontroversiella saker utan att folk verkar bry sig…

Guds frid!