Friday, September 07, 2007

What A Coincidence!!!

It has happened in the course of other discussions, the concern that God might endorse "genocide", as in the destruction of cities like Sodom and others, either through his awsome power directly, or through the use of the Hebrew armies. And then today, as I listened to Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, a caller asked about that very topic of Hank's guest, R. C. Sproul. During the discussions of which I took part, the problem that was raised was one of reconciling such an action with a God who then, in the form of Jesus Christ, preached peace, kindness to enemies, not returning evil with evil, etc., etc., etc. R. C.'s response included justice, which is a point I tried to make, as the people of the town were so worthy of destruction. He also spoke of the children of the town being sinful creatures, since we are all sinful creatures worthy of destruction. He also spoke of how there were definitely others worthy of destruction whom He chose to spare, that being the Hebrews themselves. This is to say that His sparing one group shows how merciful He can be, by contrasting how He deals in retribution for those who do not accept Him and prove it by their behavior.

Then, RC spoke of those who are happy to accept all the goodness and mercy and "nice" things that God so readily bestows upon us, the salvation He offers, but reject the other side of God's nature that is where justice lies. Yet He is indeed a jealous and wrathful God though many don't think that's very "God-like". In an interview on the Dennis Prager radio show, "Bishop" Spong said that very thing regarding the vengeful and destructive aspects of God's nature as demonstrated in those Old Testament stories. Prager replied, "No. You just think it isn't "Spong-like"." The meaning, of course, is that so many simply accept the "nice" God attributes so as to feel good about to whom they give their praise and glory. Regarding my rather fundamental views, I had a blogger say to me, "I want no part of YOUR God!" as if I made Him up out of my own desires. Well, if it were that simple, why would I make up such a "hard ass" to worship, and not the squeezably soft, snuggle-puppy god so much in vogue with the progressive liberal post-modern Christian?

As RC said in a sermon on his radio show this week as well, this is a God who created a being, Adam, gave him the world, literally, with only one restriction, don't eat the fruit of THIS tree, which he then proceeded to do. Since then, mankind has been in rebellion. It is in our sinful natures to be in rebellion. He has every right to take this creation of His and trash it for our impudence, has shown that He can do it anytime He likes, and instead, gave us the Perfect Sacrifice, His only begotten Son, sinless, to carry on HIS back the collective sins of mankind, and then sacrificed Himself for our sakes. If He didn't have it in Him to be so destructive, He would not be a truly just God, but by being so, it shows the true extent of His Love for us that when we deserve as much, He offers us Salvation. Amen.

20 comments:

hashfanatic said...

I do like Hanegraaff's show.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Oy vey. This is, without a doubt, one of the most confused, and confusing, and most certainly uninformed pieces of writing I have ever read. First of all, to put Spong's honorific in quotes misses the point - he's a Bishop in the Episcopal Church. You can agree or not with him (I tend not to, in fact), but you cannot deny him his title that was bewtowed with all the pomp of that denomination.

As for the crossing of lines and the heck that will be paid, please spare me, because threats like that are not so much intimidating as tiresome. Why is it so many feel they have to flex their muscles to be men? Please, God, some individuals who might be willing to lay all that aside. . .

John J. Kaiser said...

I am glad to finally find your blog. I wonder why it doesn't automatically link on Neil's?

Marshall Art said...

Thanks for visiting, John. Perhaps Neil made a mistake in how he input the info.

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

Sorry to hear you disagree with what I posted, though not necessarily surprised. Perhaps you would be so kind as to point out where I've fallen short. If so, please keep in mind I was relating from memory what I had heard whilst driving.

As for Spong, I would also put into quotes any adjectives as "intelligent", "insightful", "Christian". He has created his own god from all that I have heard of him. It doesn't matter who granted him what title, it matters more what he does under it's authority. For that, he has spiritually betrayed those who have so honored him, in much the same way as a cop who steals. Here's an appelation for him which I'll offer without quotation marks: heretic. It fits well for someone who would reduce the Bible to comic book size simply because he doesn't like what it says. I'll maintain that opinion until he should convince me that I've misunderstood him. Thus far, he's only cemented my feelings.

Finally, as for the crossing of lines and the heck that will be paid, I know you have trouble with macho displays of manliness. So do I, though I work out (though not lately), train in martial arts, enjoy sports of all kinds, and like to show off. Weird ain't it? But then, I do it for the fun of it.

But I digress. My point in writing that, and funny that I need to spell it out for you, is that if someone were to call you a stupid c**ks**ker, that person would definitely have crossed the line and the heck he would pay would be bannishment from my blog. If that kind of muscle flexing is too much for you, it's too bad. Would you rather I tolerate even that type of behavior? I don't think YOU would. Thus, would you be simply "flexing your muscles" for ridding yourself of such a commenter? I hope this clears this little point up for you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go open a jar or something.

Neil said...

Good points, Marshall. Spong has a title and a collar, but I haven't found an essential of the faith that he doesn't mock. Great quote by Prager. Spong has obviously created his a god in his own image.

I used to listen to Sproul and Hanegraaff and learned a lot from them.

Mark said...

Hank Hannegraff is the source of a quote I often use: Some people have a head knowledge of Christ and some have a Heart knowledge. Spong falls neatly into the description of the former, from what few things I've read and heard about his peculiar theology.

I don't consider myself particuarly intelligent, but it never ceases to surprise me how some people, who I think are much more intelligent than me can't seem to grasp the concept of a "just" God.

As I always say, "Yes, God is a God of Love, but He is also a Just God, and that is why there is both a Heaven and a Hell.

I used to listen to Hannegraff everyday when I lived in KC, but I haven't stumbled across his program here on the east coast.

Marshall Art said...

His show comes on at 6PM here in Chicagoland, and frankly, that's not a great time for me, unfortunately. But thanks to physical therapy, which I endure twice a week to restore my left knee, I get to hear a good chunk of his show. I need to bookmark equip.org. The same goes for Kennedy's site and Sproul's, too.

Erudite Redneck said...

Spong really doesn't have a concept of a "personal" God. I don't think his thinking even fits on the balance between "loving" and "just" that seems to divide some of us.

Erudite Redneck said...

Here's Spong on Spong:

http://www.dioceseofnewark.org
/jsspong/reform.html


BTW, I consider Spong a recent influence on my own thinking. But that doesn't mean I buy into everything he says!

As he said when he spoke at my church last year, "At the end of the day, even I don't believe everything I say!"

I take that to mean that his is a process of thinking things through, and speaking and writing as he goes, rather than making a series of reasoned, firm declarations or assertions.

On the other hand, he does, on the link above, present a set of firm declarations -- many of which, if not all, will scald y'alls' eyeballs. :-)

Especially No. 6.

But, hey, he slaps ALL of us around: "The renewal of Christianity will not come from fundamentalism, secularism or the irrelevant mainline tradition. If there is nothing more than this on the horizon then I see no future for the enterprise we call the Christian faith."

Mark said...

If he sees no future for the Christian faith, then he has no faith in God. God is the arbiter of whether Christianity has a future, not Spong.

And therein lies the flaw in Spong's humanist philosophy.

Neil said...

Yes, #6 alone should garner him an ejector seat from the church ("The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.")

He denies the atonement, the deity of Christ, Biblical authority and the exclusivity of Christ and perhaps more, all in one brief sentence.

Why anyone would consider him a "Christian" is beyond me. Dawkins and Harris have equally charitable views towards the faith, but at least they are honest enough to call themselves atheists.

Neil said...

P.S. Thanks for the inspiration - I decided to do a post on Mr. Spong.

Mark - good points.

E.R. - thanks for the link.

Erudite Redneck said...

On the other hand, certain strains of Judaism don't exactly have the most personable of concepts of God. "I am that I am." The God without a name. Stuff like that.

Marshall Art said...

Yes indeed. Thanks for the link, ER. Now there's no doubt in my mind that Spong is a freakin' lunatic. I don't know if the word "heretic" is appropriate anymore. Why anyone would give this putz the time of day is beyond my ability to fathom. There is nothing of value in the droolings of this person. "Bishop"? He should abdicate the title officially and have his name removed from the rolls of whatever denomination foolishly thought he was a Christian. He is not. He has created his own religion and it is false. He is deserving of no respect, but plenty of pity and prayers. May he receive the epiphany he needs, and may it give him a nasty headache.

Erudite Redneck said...

Tell us how you really feel, Marshall! :-)

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I just noticed the following:
" Regarding my rather fundamental views, I had a blogger say to me, "I want no part of YOUR God!" as if I made Him up out of my own desires. Well, if it were that simple, why would I make up such a "hard ass" to worship, and not the squeezably soft, snuggle-puppy god so much in vogue with the progressive liberal post-modern Christian?"

Actually, I don't think you made your God up out of your own desires, so much as you made your God up out of your own fears.

The God in whom I believe is hardly a wuss. My God, however, is defined by love. Even justice servess the love revealed on the cross and in the empty tomb, Marshall. Grace is the mystery of the Divine life, not some prior commitment to law, or justice, or anything else. This is love that conquered, and conquers, death. This is love that made a people out of no people. This is love that breathed life in to a valley of dry bones. This is the God in whom I believe, whom I confess, and for whom I work and live. The same God who created the entire Universe.

Marshall Art said...

"Actually, I don't think you made your God up out of your own desires, so much as you made your God up out of your own fears."

If that helps you sleep better, fine. Not quite accurate, however. You seem to have a very one-dimensional notion of a "loving" God.

My old man passed when I was 9. He was old school in his parenting methods. That means that a belt hung over the phone on the wall of the kitchen. We each had cause to feel it and possibly none more than me. Yet, his love was without question. I knew who put food on the table. I knew who would protect me. I knew who made me laugh and always found a way to get things done for his wife and five kids. He was a kidder and a goof, but don't piss him off. I didn't know EXACTLY what his will for me was, other than to be a good boy, don't lie, steal, give Ma a hard time, do well in school. Like most boys, I pushed the edge whenever I felt the urge. The grief this caused me educated me as to what was what about other things without being told.

Yet the love was there always. He loved me and I loved him. He was my hero. Was it out of fear? Well why not? He'd beat my ass when he felt it necessary. But I wasn't afraid of him at all. Unless I was breaking the rules. At that age, at that time, beatings were the rule. All my friends enjoyed a beating now and again. Those of us who hated our fathers only did so until the sting faded. I never did. He was my Dad and I knew even then the price for being stupid.

When I was behaving, I never had any fear whatsoever.

So if I have any fear of my God, it's only for consciously abandoning Him in favor of my own desires. It's a righteous fear because He more than my Dad, is deserving of my love and He, more than my Dad, is dissappointed in my transgressions, because He has set down the rule, which I've learned by His Word in Scripture and for which there is no other understanding.

I don't seek His disfavor. I don't believe you do either. But I don't play games with "interpretations" and "meditations" regarding that which is so plainly related to us in Scripture. I don't pretend He's a "loving" God who isn't vengeful and wrathful and can turn His favor from any of us who turns from Him. That might not sound "God-like" to some, but it is what it is. That's not fear, it's understanding.

Mark said...

Sorry I haven't visited lately. I've been involved in yet another move. And I'm not done yet. I have had little time to be online. Nevertheless, I am back and posting semi-reguarly.

Timothy said...

Hi Marshall,
As a duly ordained bishop in my organization, one of true faith in the Word/word of God, most excellent post.

As for Spong, the Spong-like quote is very appropriate. That is what liberals do when they come to the word of God. They make Him into their own image, instead of accepting the God who is. He is both a God of Holiness and Love, wrath and mercy. To deny Him on any of these levels is to deny the living and true God.
Blessings