Thursday, August 4, 2011

PROBLEMS WITH ORTHODOXY ... note to Edward Fudge..june 3, 2010(edited Aug 4, 2011)

Dear Edward. (Edward's essay is below) This one line says to me something is really wrong with this interpretation of  the ultimate God of us all. ...when they finally wore out God's patience, God punished them with a plague of poisonous snakes. Who can in good conscience present this as a model for God's (or human) behavior in any circumstance?  What kind of love runs out of patience, angrily punishes , all to get to 'make up' after the intentionally imposed  trauma? This is the typical cycle of a physically abusive person.  This will not stand up to  reasonable questions now coming from sincere humans, who remember are created in  God's image. I've nothing but respect and empathy for God but not for images of God  that no longer speak to the sensitivities of  human consciousness. These images taken literally and as eternal qualities of God  can't possibly  make people better, stronger or more loving.

Yahweh First Sends Serpents To Kill Then Offers An Escape-Sistine Chapel
The alternative to believing is to disbelieve. We might be more like the mortal apostles and just say the way it really is with us, that 'we believe and we doubt.' These are not alternatives we choose, they are ones that simply do come and go and even exist at the very same moment. I'm happy for anyone's joy but I just don't think most others, including 'believers' , are that much different than me and other honest human confessions I've been privileged to hear.

Those who reject God's love will finally perish. Those who finally perish must themselves take all the blame.   There is not a fiber in my body or soul that could enjoy a moment of an 'eternal bliss' if even one of my children were not there. I'm confident that is how the ultimate God is about every person. The two views are in direct opposition and do not deserve equal footing or  to be united. These are two different images of God and of the nature of Jesus' ministry of reconciliation of  Humans and  God.
Judgment Scene, Eternal Separations Done By God
Edward I am just too earthly and simple minded to be attracted to such religious statements anymore. This is a strong archetype(see ancient painting) of the Collective Unconscious that has been much alive and accepted by Humans for millennia. Recent polls of Americans  and a strong movement among Evangelicals insisting that no one will 'burn in Hell' forever both say aspects of this archetype  are  fading from its once strong power over people.  The only way I could accept such statements of judgment were if the memory of loved ones were abolished, and I cannot correspond that to the kind of love we are graced to spend our life time  building with each other. This most of us agree is much about what our lives are all about.  It is to me nonsense  to the post-modern mind and reflects terribly on the image of God one has embraced.

You and I agree in the desire for humans to be able to know and accept God's love for them. But you seem to have little confidence that without 'blaming' his human creatures, God's love will succeed in naturally reaching the hearts of all humankind. We 'see' Jesus through different lenses. I think Jesus understood that all humans are already connected to and loved by God (are not at risk of any punishment directed from God)and Jesus was helping them to know that. This was how some of them experienced 'salvation.' He was not threatening and frightening people into 'believing' what simply was not convincing to them. Unlike present conservative orthodoxy Jesus did not carry any idea that God was insisting a person 'must believe' some particular religious statement or asserted literal physical fact. The things that God would desire us to believe come naturally and not as something that must be pushed at a person and are in conflict with his/her own best reason and instinct. This kind of 'putting the human into a corner', that your perception of Jesus often seems to imply, I think is not the work of Jesus or the ultimate God but a creation of religious orthodoxy. It is not, as best I can tell, the way love behaves.

As much as I cherish my  Christian heritage and know it is much responsible for me being as I am,  I must cry out with respect to the statements above, 'Something  here is very wrong and at odds with the Spirit of Jesus I have come to adore.'

Needing  and hoping to  always give,  patience. Jim

On Thu, 03 Jun 2010 18:59:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge

God loved human beings so much that he gave his one-and-only Son to bring our alienated world back to himself (John 3:16). That Son, whom we know as Jesus of Nazareth, also loved us so much that he laid down his life to restore us to healthy relationship with the Father (John 10:17-18). By his life and death, Jesus brought into being an objective reality that did not exist before -- a state of friendship between God and the estranged world. The gospel is the good news of this restored relationship between the Creator and his human creatures everywhere. Just as the Father loved us before he gave his Son, the Son restored our friendship with the Father before we heard about it or believed that it was true.
With the gospel announcement comes the promise that all who trust in Jesus will immediately experience the reality of the renewed relationship with God which Jesus has brought into being. Because this seems too simple to be true, Jesus points to God's equally unbelievable promise given long ago to the Israelites in the wilderness (Numbers 21). When the venomous complaining of the rebellious people finally wore out God's patience, God punished them with a plague of poisonous snakes. In mercy, God then instructed Moses to mount a brass snake up on a pole, and to promise the people that every snake-bitten person who looked at that brass snake would live. In that same way, promises Jesus, once he has been lifted up on the cross, whoever believes in him will experience life that is out-of-this-world in quality and that will never end (John 3:14-15).
This story of God's incredible promise to the snake-bitten Israelites provides the setting for the familiar words recorded in John 3:16, which is why verse 16 begins with the connecting word "for." The ancient promise points us to the present promise, as each clause in verse 16 drives us to the clause that follows. "FOR God so loved the world, THAT he gave his only begotten Son, THAT whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." God's love resulted in his giving us Jesus. Jesus' "lifting up" resulted in every believer experiencing eternal life.
The alternative to believing is to disbelieve, to deny that God's happy announcement is true, to reject the reality of Jesus as God's Son and of the restored relationship that Jesus has brought about between God and the human world. Just as believers enjoy eternal life, those who persistently reject God's love will finally perish. The ultimate cause of perishing is rejecting God (notice the "because" in verse 18). Although believing in Jesus in response to the good news results in enjoying eternal life, the ultimate cause of eternal life is not our believing, but the inexplicable, unbounded love of God. Those who experience eternal life must give God all the credit. Those who finally perish must themselves take all the blame.

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