Saturday, 14 July 2012

Paradox

Which is better - to stand by scripture and endlessly battle through paradox, or to stand with integrity in your heart?

Are these things mutually exclusive?

What do I mean?

The bible talks a lot about what God does, tells his people to do, describes His character, His relationship with His creation etc. And heaps of it is contradictory. Now before you jump on me and say that His character and ways are so far beyond ours that we could never understand, lets talk about that a little.

There are very clear contradictions about his requirements for love, justice, ethics, anger, fear and many other traits. Most of them are between the old and new covenants, so we happily say the new covenant is a whole new era of His unconditional love poured out on His creation, and the old was about a legal standing and requirements. But that still doesn't cover the problem with the basic character of God which is supposed to be unchanging.

This is basic stuff in some ways, but we either completely ignore it or create very complex theology to get around it, or just throw up our hands and say God is God and its not our place to understand.

But its still there... The God of the Old covenant was pretty bad, His standards were outrageously demanding, but worst were the many things he told the Jews to do, murder of pregnant mothers and children,  genocide, so many things that by our standards are absolutely unthinkable, in fact, not too dissimilar to Hitler and other tyrant despots! Any person doing these things today would be stopped by the UN and tried in an international court with crimes against humanity.

So how do we deal with this logic? Is it enough to say our logic is futile compared to His? There's many places in scripture where He lays out in no uncertain terms the nature of love, 1cor 13 being the most obvious. The obvious conclusion is if that's His standard for us then His own standard must be at least the same if not higher. So has that standard of unconditional love always been His standard? He is unchangeable after all!

I have read endless stuff on the subject of Gods immutable character over my life as a christian and know all the theology that tries to reconcile this. But either it's just me, or none of it actually works. I have yet to hear any explanation that really says "YES" to my heart. So I think the problem is either the bible itself, or how I understand it. Perhaps its neither though, or both. I am only left with being able to rely on Holy Spirit in me - the comforter/councilor that Jesus said could only come when He had finished His work on earth. He reveals all truth to us, not any written words, no matter how "holy" we have declared them to be.

I know beyond any doubt that if I'm created in His image, it means that the way I think, process, feel; the way the deepest parts of me understand the truth of unconditional love; the way our hearts yearn for justice based on compassion and understanding, are the same as His. They have to be, or there is nothing left that we can say is "in His image".

What then are the implications of God being nothing but love? That all He is and does comes from that heart? This fact undermines every religious understanding of scripture and our demented acceptance of a tyrant God who we dare not question and blindly accept as unpredictable, unknowable and prone to getting offended big time.

All those great christians who we love and respect the most through history are those who loved the most, who poured out Father's heart of love and compassion. God is in all, holding everything together - there is nowhere in all of creation that He is not. He is love, we are held together by love, the darkness is even filled with his love.

I hope that makes you concerned about what you believe, even about what I believe, that it makes you think just for a minute about God's true nature, and how we respond to that.