When Warp and Weft don’t give us the Weave

17 03 2011

Today amongst all the other things I was thinking about on the bus – my general place of reflection and amusement… I was mulling over an interview I’d seen by Martin Bashir with Rob Bell about his new book, Love Wins (in which the Nooma guy nails his colours to the Universalist mast).

Martin Bashir summarises Bell’s premise as: Ultimately all people will be saved, even those who have rejected the claims of Christianity – argues people will eventually be persuaded by God’s love, post mortem in the life to come… that God’s love will eventually melt hearts…

And he points out that this necessarily implies the question (which he puts to Rob three times): Is it irrelevant and immaterial about how you respond to Christ now to determine your eternal destiny? Is that relevant or irrelevant? Does it have a bearing or does it have no bearing?

BASHIR: …in a sense you’re creating a Christian message that’s warm, kind and popular, for contemporary culture but it’s, frankly — according to this critic — unbiblical and historically unreliable. That’s true, isn’t it?

BELL: No. It’s not true.

BASHIR: What you’ve done is you’re amending the Gospel — the Christian message — so that it’s palatable to contemporary people who find, for example, the idea of hell and heaven very difficult to stomach. So here comes Rob Bell, he’s made a Christian gospel for you and it’s perfectly palatable, it’s much easy to swallow. That’s why you’ve done, isn’t it?

It’s an interesting little interaction between a man who doesn’t believe with a man who’s belief He sees doesn’t stand up. You can check out the clip here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/03/15/msnbc-martin-bashirs-interview-with-rob-bell/

But Martin Bashir starts the interview with a brief discussion of Japan – which is what had me musing on the bus today.

BASHIR: Help us with this tragedy in Japan. Which of these is true – either God is all powerful but he doesn’t care about the people of Japan and therefore their suffering or he does care about the people of Japan but he’s not all powerful?

I was thinking today of the times when I sat across from children who exhibited incredibly bizarre behaviours. That those behaviours stem from having lived in a cracked, flawed and damaged family environment was clear. How they stemmed exactly, what was the logical progression, was neither clear nor relevant. What was relevant was redeeming the family situation and healing the wounds of those children.

People can clearly see how the escaping plume of a nuclear reactor stems from the impact of human behaviour, (appropriate or not). It’s not at all clear how a tsunami fits into the picture – but all the same, they both come from living in a world cracked and flawed that ‘groans’ for it’s redemption and restoration.

In Bible study yesterday we were talking about how difficult it is sometimes not to take all the ‘pieces’ of the bible that speak to something, knit them together then iron them out into a ‘paper’ on that particular doctrine. While Systematic Theological textbooks have helped me greatly – that’s not what knowing God is about, and in the attempt to simplify one thing, another is often lost.

So I can attempt to find the edges of the tapestry: warp = God’s impotence, weft = God’s apathy… and stretch the ‘evidence’ in between and like Martin Bashir come up with a dichotomy – but it’s a false one.

That God did not prevent this does not mean he is disinterested or uninvolved. He is precisely in the middle of it working out the details according to His will that will lead to Christ being over everything to His glory and praise.

I have no idea how. All I can do is pray.

I don’t think that’s defeatest – I think that’s participating in God’s plans.

And I don’t think this because it makes the most sense to me or that’s the kind of God I ‘get’ or can follow. I think this because that’s what God tells me by His Spirit through His word about His Son.

Ephesians 1:7 -10

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.




One response

8 06 2011

someone in my bible class last week asked whether people will be given a second chance. our teacher responded no, that that would be to diminish the cross.

you often hear that Jesus spoke more about hell than any other person in history. he certainly did more so than the prophets at least. for me the parable of Lazarus and the rich man is clear, we die and our souls go somewhere to wait out the remainder of this age. Paul preferred to depart but saw the need to stay and work to save souls.

it’s very difficult to accept but i think we have to. we can’t comprehend some truths of the next age and hell is perhaps the most perplexing but we can’t look at the next age through eyes of this age because the meta-physical structure of things will change, there will be no war and no marriage for example.

i would speculate that had Adam and Eve eaten from the fruit of the tree of life, they would’ve lived forever in a sinful state which somehow equates to hell. God in his mercy prevented them and set in motion His great redemption.

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