The message that unless you accept Christ you are doomed and lost is bad news, not good news. Though this warning might be useful in some specific situations (where someone is complacently resisting Christ) have we tended, in effect, to propagate the impression that the gospel is bad news?
Have we been assuming that the first is more important than the second? Have we overlooked the second? Think.
Maybe it's like this?
We believe "God is love" as a doctrinal statement. But do we realise its implications? Have we tended to forget it when emphasising what God wishes or wants from us? When we try to defend God's honour, have we been a bit like Elijah before God corrected him?
Have we tended to see God as somehow selfish, and to give that impression to others? e.g. when emphasising what God demands or wants from us? Think.
See how we address this.
Chris Gousmett told me this story:
A man left his children at home for a time. In their pride and spite, the children trashed the house and all inside it, including the pets. When he came back, he was understandably angry. So he rescued his children from the mess, burned the house and its contents down, and built a new, lovely house for his children to live in.Is this not the kind of view we have when we assume the creation will be completely destroyed by fire? Think.
Maybe the earth we have messed up is not destined to be completely burned up?
If the creation is indeed important in God's eyes, it is traditionally obvious how God the Father is involved: as creator and perhaps owner. It is becoming clear how God the Son is involved, as redeemer and heir. But how is the Holy Spirit necessarily involved? Think.
Do we really understand what it means to be God's people? Have we tended to see ourselves as God's favourites, whom he pampers? Does not the idea of pampered favourites cheapen the idea of God's love? So must we reject the idea of God's special people altogether? Think.
Are we not, rather, God's representatives? If we are his representatives, then what he says and does to them can apply to the rest. If we are his favourites, then some things can never apply.
This is the question that opened the door to New View for me. See my account.
If all God wanted was stewards of creation, who would look after it on his behalf, then why did he not give this job to angels? They are more obedient, more powerful, more intelligent that we are. Think.
Then see 'Stewards'.
Liberal Western society, a well as some Roman Catholic societies, find The Law of God to be an arbitrary constraint on their freedom, in other words, a curse. But surely if God is truly love, this would not be the case? Think.
Indeed it is not the case! God's law is a blessing.
For example, the law of Sabbath. In Genesis 1, it seems to apply to all people. But in Exodus ==== it seems to apply only to the Jews. And the early Christians had great contentions on this very question. How may it be resolved, satisfactorily? Think.
Perhaps like this?
Some areas of Christianity are scared to do the slightest thing that might be risky or out of the ordinary, lest they "grieve the Holy Spirit". It is as though the Holy Spirit is touchy, liable to go off in a huff. Result: Christians are seen as timid people. Not only do they never allow their full abundant humanity to develop, but professional Christians seldom that the lead in, for example, developing major new approaches in their disciplines. But surely the Holy Spirit is not touchy! Think.
Does New View replace other views? Many movements within Christianity have either denied previous views or so focused on some insight that their followers see their view as the total view. Is not this rather arrogant? If so, how can we give each view its due? Think.
For example, most evangelical Christians pay very little attention to great swathes of the Old Testament, and treat the Mosaic Law as mere 'types of Christ' or else we choose certain ones as ready-made laws for today's society while ignoring others. If the Bible is truly God's revelation ('Word') to humanity, then surely the whole Bible would be of direct relevance to us today? And what about the human authorship of the Bible? And how (whether) should we make use of recent approaches in linguistics and communication theory? Think.
This has three sub-questions. How should we interpret the Bible? [take the Bible to be human writing and of an pre-theoretical rather than theoretical attitude] At what level should we interpret the Bible? [bhg] With what worldview-lens should we undertake our interpretation? [nv]
It has been emphasised that we are justified by faith not works, saved by grace (unmerited favour of God). We are the Father's precious children whom He loves as He did Jesus [John 16-17]. But Hebrews tells us "judgement begins first with the household of God". How can those who are already saved and justified to be judged? A traditional answer has been that though our 'souls' are safe for eternity, we are given status in 'heaven' according to the quality of our lives after being saved. An edifice of theology has been built up on this idea.
But that has never satisfied me. It sounds too legalistic and out of kilter with the love of God. The traditional view is constrained by Dimension-1 thinking, and even some Dimension-2, which sees our salvation only in terms of a one-to-one relationship with God. It has ignored Dimension 3, which emphasises that we represent God to the rest of creation and humanity with responsibility, joy, persecution, power and protection. This is what it means to be the "household of God".
Don Richardson believes there was some knowledge of the One True God in the Shang Dynasty, but it was obliterated, and God seems to take no action. Under the theology that focuses on Dimension 1 ('souls for heaven') this implies a God who is unconcerned about millions of people. If Jesus is the Only Way to God, why did God wait so many centuries before opening this Way? The New View suggests that more might be saved by Christ's sacrifice than know of him, and that there is more in God's Plan than merely souls for heaven, and that "at the right time God sent his Son", right not just for Europeans but also for Chinese. China today is ripe for the Gospel - because of its history. God works with rather than against human history.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden all dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
Written on the Amiga with Protext. Number of visitors to these pages: .
Created: 7 March 2009. Last updated: 6 September 2009 Intro slight change. 10 July 2011 new title. 4 February 2013 judgement of household of God. 18 May 2014 China; Changed bullets into H4 headings, and removed 'small' and 'br'.