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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No, really ...

A few days back I linked to a post from a Texas pastor on the subject of God’s attributes that’s still percolating in my cranium this morning (you can find it here). This bit:
God isn’t merely wise; He’s wisdom. He isn’t merely powerful; He’s power. He isn’t merely good; He’s goodness. He isn’t merely holy; He’s holiness. He isn’t merely just; He’s justice. God’s manifold attributes can no more be separated from Him than He can be separated from Himself. They’re His essence.
is probably something any serious Christian can nod in agreement with. But I wonder if some may read the following:
They’re all one in Him – His justice is His mercy and His mercy is His justice, His wisdom is His power and His power is His wisdom, His knowledge is His patience and His patience is His knowledge, His wrath is His goodness and His goodness is His wrath. God’s manifold attributes are distinguished in their objects and effects, but they’re all one in Him.
and think, Whoa, hey pastor, what are you smoking? Justice isn’t mercy. Justice is justice. They’re both good qualities, but they’re distinct from one another. And definitely wrath isn’t goodness and goodness isn’t wrath. Where exactly are you coming from here?

But the more I reflect on it, the more I think our Texan friend has hit on something here that can’t be easily dismissed, particularly when you introduce the subject of discipline. God’s attributes are all one in the sense that God does not cease to love, for example, when exercising his justice:
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline” (Rev. 3:19).
In fact, genuine love demands action when someone you love sins. Only a patronizing dotard is blithely unconcerned about a child’s ongoing willful disobedience and declines to act. Is the punishment that must inevitably follow from parental concern the product of love, or the product of justice? Depending on the parent and the motivation, I suppose, it can be both, one or the other, or even neither.

For God it is always both.

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