The BBC, the national broadcaster in the UK, puts out religious programmes, such as a 45-minute church service on Sunday mornings, from a different churche around the country each week. Very often there is a focus on God's love, so should I not rejoice? I don't. Sometimes I find the services good but often I find them excruciating in their portrayal of God's love. I cannot fault the words they use, but somehow the meaning behind the words gives a picture that infuriates me. It comes across as so insipid, compared with the strong love that I envisage in this New View.
So I wonder: Does this New View come across as just as insipid? Does its interest in God's love and in environmental matters make it just an offshoot of the liberal theology of the status quo? I hope not.
Just as meekness is not weakness, despite sounding similar, so the love of God as understood by this New View is not the love of tolerance found in the liberal status quo. I find the following differences:
1. Tolerance? Granted, understanding the love of God rebukes those who are intolerant, but it does not stifle differentiation and diversity in the way liberal tolerance does. Jesus said "Do not judge, so that you will not be judged ..." and then a few verses later "Do not give what is holy to dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine" [Matthew 7:1-6]. Paradox? Inconsistency? Not at all: the first is about attitude, the second about wisdom.
2. Forgiveness? Granted, the love of God forgives wrongs, declaring the unjust just and seemingly letting people off. But forgiving wrong is more than letting-off, because it is not the end of the matter, only the start. The Holy Spirit dwell in genuinely forgiven people, to make them holy and like God in character, so that they then image God to the rest of creation in love, joy and peace (see Three-Dimensional Salvation). This is what the whole creation is eagerly waiting for, and hurting until it experiences it. That is so powerful that Paul felt it worth more than all the persecutions and deaths (see Romans 8).
3. Meekness? Granted, Jesus told his followers to "turn the other cheek" when hit; this is meekness. But to do this requires considerable strength. The result, if it is done truly, is not the other person walking all over us, but a change in attitude among people. The attitude of meekness, which is the opposite of seeing oneself as the centre, oils the wheels of society.
4. Justice against love? Granted, God loves each of us, and we often think that God's justice is somehow against His love. In fact, justice is because of love. Because of the interconnectedness of all in creation, if I do harm to another creature, then God's love for that other creature means that He must be angry with me for harming them. For more, see 'Justice as Love'.
5. Universal salvation? Granted, God loves all and desires the destruction of none and the salvation of all. Some believe in universal salvation because of this; I don't. If I persist in harming the other creature, God persists in his anger at me, because He continues to love the creatures I keep on harming. If I take the attitude that the harm does not matter, God gets angrier at a deeper level; I need sorting out more deeply. Because of His love for me, however, He would rather I face reality and get sorted out, than merely get harmed myself. So what I see as 'punishment' is an attempt to draw me up short, so I can see clearly and repent. If I refuse to repent, God gives me up. And one day I stand utterly condemned, by my own choices and stubborn refusals - and Creation is well rid of me.
6. Redefining sin? Granted, we were too quick in previous generations of Christendom to label things as 'sin', especially those related to sex. Granted, love means we should not be judgemental in the way we Christians used to be. This does not mean that what were once considered sexual sins are now perfectly acceptable in God's (and Reality's) sight, but rather that we were too superficial in our understanding of what sin it. The real sin lies in the human heart [Matthew 15:18], in attitudes and stances like stubbornness [Acts 7:51; Exodus 33:3], pride [James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34], self-love [II Tim 3:2ff], "affluence, arrogance and unconcern for the poor" [Ezekiel 16:49]. Sexual sins, and their wide acceptance in society, are to be seen as symptoms of those, rather than the cause [Romans 1]. Understanding the depth of sin is the real redefinition we need.
Liberalism is no answer; widespread indwelling of the Holy Spirit, changing people's hearts, is the answer. But the right wing is even worse. In my view, those 'Christians' who stubbornly resist Climate responsibility, such as the Cornwall Alliance, may be seen as enemies of Christ.
Comments, queries welcome. This page is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
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Created: 15 March 2015. Last updated: