Blog Archive


Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"I was trying to mold God into what I wanted Him to be - which is so arrogant - instead of submitting myself to Him and allowing Him to mold me into the person He created me to be." - Kathy Ireland
Recently, I've been thinking about how comfortable a Christian should be with their doctrine. I don't mean how confident he should feel. I believe Christians should feel a reasonable level of confidence in their doctrine as long as it is solidly and historically built on Scripture and they are willing to reconsider it if given Biblical warrant. What I mean is this: is it a good thing to be personally comfortable with your theological beliefs? Or, should your doctrine make you squirm sometimes? I would say yes. A Christian should not be perfectly untroubled in their natural self with some of the ideas of God shown in Scripture. But rather than undermine our confidence in them, it should strengthen us to know that it isn't of our own longings that we come to them. If a belief is counter-intuitive to what one would expect or hope to see in Scripture, then in most cases it's all the more likely to be true.

Of course, all of this hinges on the doctrine of human depravity. If our flesh is not sinful and rebellious and our moral compasses are not utterly broken, then doctrinal discomfort may be a warning sign rather than a confirmation. But, if we are morally destitute and spiritually dead on our own, then it would make sense that we would have a natural inclination to wince at certain doctrines. As John Calvin himself said about the doctrine of election, "I confess that this decree must frighten us."

In another sense, however, we should be comfortable with our theology. After all, Paul says something similar in 1 Corinthians 1:18-24. For those stuck in their sinful flesh, they will understandably find the Gospel and related doctrine foolish. But to those who are saved and have the Spirit of God, it will be wisdom surpassing all wisdom.

This thought was brought to bear just this morning as I read a letter written to Brian McLaren which he then posted on his blog.
[R]ather than accept the idea that Christ is so violent that He feels compelled by His own internal moral character of punitive justice to punish sinners by torturing and tormenting them ... literally without end, I would reject Christ's authority in this matter altogether by assuming the theologically liberal view that He made an outright error in the accuracy and validity and veracity of His teaching in this matter. This is justified by asserting that Christ was also human and could and did make mistakes in His teaching because in becoming human, one of His divine attributes that He gave up was His omniscience and infallibly [sic]. This is referred to as the Kenosis theory of the Incarnation based on the passage where it says Christ "emptied" Himself in the incarnation. I can not be a Christian [if] I must believe that I must believe that hell is literally never ending suffering for people who are kept in existence, alive and conscious of their torment literally forever. Even it means that Christ will condemn ME to hell for believing as I do, I find it impossible to believe such a morally repulsive and repugnant doctrine. THIS WOULD INDEED MEAN GOD IS MORE VIOLENT THAN ANY HUMAN COULD EVER BE AND TURN GOD IN TO A MALEVOLENT BEING WHO IS FUNDAMENTALLY HOSTILE TO HUMAN BEINGS WHO ACTUALLY HATES US.
Clearly, the author views himself as the ultimate authority on all things moral. And as such, he thinks that his doctrines must make him comfortable. Unwittingly, he has given himself over to idolatry, fashioning a god that looks remarkably like himself and subverting Genesis 1:27. It is not for the clay to become the potter.


Chris A said...

With respect to theology, I think it is perfectly reasonable to view God in light of the moral commands He has given us. This is not to say that His ways are not higher than ours, but that our ideal ways, having their origin in the commandment of God, are reflective of His nature in some degree, and that morality from His perspective cannot be so different as to be completely unrecognizable to us. So I think we can use logic from that standpoint to get a deeper understanding of God's moral character as long as we have a high view of Scripture.

That said, of course we are going to find difficulty in conforming our thoughts to the God of the Bible, and there will be various degrees of comfort and confidence with certain teachings; some of this is justified, some of it is not. It may be justified in those areas of theology that are less absolute - eschatology, for instance. You can't be too dogmatic about a lot of that. But when it comes to eternal judgment, Hebrews 6 identifies that teaching as one of the "principles of the doctrine of Christ". (Hebrews 6:1-2) Being a principle, it is certainly an essential. And despite the difficulty one may have in grasping it or reconciling it with God's moral character, anyone having fear of God would have to take God's word for it and believe it despite his lack of understanding.

But really there is nothing morally ambiguous about God punishing sin anyway. It is entirely just to do so. And obviously in the process of judging sin, the one through whom the sin occurred must be judged.

The Good News is that the "chastisement of our peace" was upon Jesus so that He was able to pay for the sins of the whole world. And the only reason anyone would have to face eternal judgment has to do with their not receiving Jesus by faith - either because of ignorance or negligence. That is why the Church was commissioned to tell those upon whom the wrath of God abides that Jesus atoned for their sins and all who call upon Him in faith shall be saved from the wrath to come.

Recent Comments


Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »