Showing posts with label Character of God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Character of God. Show all posts

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (2)

Nahum begins his oracle, appropriately enough, by identifying its divine source and describing him for his readers. Who is the Lord, you might ask? Scripture answers that question in many ways at many different times. Here the answers appear to skew toward God’s destructive characteristics: jealousy, vengeance, wrath and power. It’s an intimidating prospect.

Still, we ought to bear in mind that for the victims of relentless oppression, God’s declaration of these characteristics about himself to their oppressors is cause for celebration.

It means justice is finally coming.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

God-Shaped Heart Surgery [Part 2]

The God-Shaped Heart by Timothy Jennings has quite a bit to commend it. Yesterday I detailed five of its better features. If you haven’t read that post, some terms I will use in today’s post will not make much sense.

Unfortunately, there are also a few yawning mineshafts to be avoided in Jennings’ book, some of which are more obvious than others. For this reason, I would be cautious about commending it despite the fact that it contains some helpful observations about God’s law and a useful analysis of the various ways in which human beings may respond to it.

In short, Christians who lack the ability to assess Jennings critically in the light of scripture should probably steer clear.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

God-Shaped Heart Surgery [Part 1]

Timothy Jennings is a Tennessee-based psychiatrist who is convinced Christians don’t really know God as they should. His 2017 book The God-Shaped Heart is perhaps best described as a minor controversy: minor because it failed to crack ECPA’s Top 100 bestseller list in any of its first five years of publication; controversial because Jennings takes a view of substitutionary atonement that rubs a fair number of his critics the wrong way, this reader among them.

If you read the reviews, it’s evident those who love the book really love it. And to be fair, there are some useful thoughts amidst the yawning mineshafts. You just don’t necessarily want to recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have his or her feet firmly planted on solid rock.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Freedom: The False and the True

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”

What is freedom? Does it mean what people today think it does? Does it mean doing whatever, whenever? Does it mean liberty to surrender to our own impulses? Does it mean opportunity to do whatever-the-heck we feel like at a given moment? Does it mean being exempt from moral censure or practical criticism regardless of what action we may choose to do?

Does it mean total independence? Does it mean not needing anyone, or not feeling the lack of anything?

Monday, June 15, 2020

Anonymous Asks (97)

“Does God make mistakes?”

The Song of Moses says this about God: “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice.” David wrote, “This God — his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true.” Another psalm says the Lord’s understanding is “beyond measure”. The prophet Isaiah said, “O Lord, you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” Even the pagan prophet Balaam was forced to concede that “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Does this sound like Someone who makes mistakes? The writers of scripture claim our God is morally impeccable, utterly reliable, and acts in absolute harmony with reality. If we accept their testimony then, no, God does not make mistakes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The View from Eternity

God is very much misunderstood.

This is not without reason. God and man come at things from vastly different perspectives. Two of the most common features of online discourse about God are befuddlement and frustration. “How can a loving God permit this or that?” “How could God command genocide?” “Why animal sacrifices? Doesn’t God care about his creation?” “Why does the Law of Moses contain so many weird and apparently pointless rules if God was really behind it?” “Why would God say two people who love each other cannot be together?”

For older Christians these can be challenging questions.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Parts of Speech

“The Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is truth.”

“The Spirit of truth … proceeds from the Father.”

It is correct to say that the triune God reliably tells the truth [Gk: alētheuō] and that he always speaks truly [alēthōs]. He is both accurate and ingenuous.

And yet despite their aptness, these statements are not sufficient. They fall short. Scripture makes such claims repeatedly, but that is not all it says.

The doctrine of God’s veracity and reliability does not turn on verbs and adverbs.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

God, Logic and Nothing

Bestselling author David Berlinski has his own take on the famous philosophical question raised in Plato’s Euthyphro: What makes a good thing good? Two alternatives are posed: (1) the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy; or (2) the pious is holy because it is beloved of the gods.

Berlinski approaches the issue this way:

“To the question what makes the laws of moral life true, there are three answers: God, logic, and nothing. Each is inadequate.”

Now, you just know I’m going to disagree with that last statement, right?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Freedom: The False and the True

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Evil Nature of God

What’s the argument inside the argument?
Over at the Friendly Atheist, Michael Runyan, a former Catholic and retired risk analyst lists 40 problems he sees with Christianity, one of which he calls the “evil nature of God”.*

After doing a little Old Testament math with rather broad strokes, he says this:

“The case can be made that God killed or authorized the killings of up to 25,000,000 people. This is the God that Jesus looked up to and of whom he was allegedly an integral part. That is to say: Jesus himself was an accessory to these massacres. Therefore, Christianity cannot extract itself from these atrocities; it must own them and admit that their God is in fact a serial, genocidal, infanticidal, filicidal, and pestilential murderer.”

Hmm. Let’s think about that a little.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Get the Message

“I am the Lord.”

That’s Ezekiel summed up in four words.

God has a point he wishes to make, and we are wise to hear it in a day when most recognize no final authority beyond their own opinions, prejudices and desires.

The phrase “they will know” (or “you will know”) that “I am the Lord” occurs 72 times in Ezekiel. Only 11 of its first 39 chapters don’t have it. It’s the bottom line to every declaration God makes to his people through the prophet. It’s a message we need to internalize at the very core of our beings. Until that happens, we do not really understand our place in the universe.

Without it, our assessment of reality is warped and disproportionate. We think it’s all about us.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Can A Loving God Send People to Hell?

Hell is a terrible place. It is described as an everlasting fire which was created for the punishment of the devil and his angels. Christ told the story of how one man in hell was in such torment that he begged for just one drop of water to cool his tongue. Some want to know how, if God is love, he could send people to eternal judgement ‘just because’ they did not put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The problem is that we do not realize the seriousness of sin.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freedom: The False and the True

A more current version of this post is available here.