Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fear and Loathing in Theology


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send  his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world though him.
John 3:16 & 17

Because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly...God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom. 5:5-8


I have a friend who has a theory about theology.  He believes that we base our theology on our fears.  People who tend to emphasize God's sovereignty secretly fear that God is not as powerful as they hope, and therefor life can be far to chaotic.  People who emphasize God's judgment and wrath secretly fear that God might not actually destroy the people that they hope he will. (Emphasis on Hope, there.) And so it goes.

I can't say for sure, but I think his theory holds some merit.

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I have been feeling a profound absence of God for more than a few weeks now.  I just don't feel his presence.  Cognitively, I know he is there.  Subjectively, I do not.

Many years ago, when I was in a hurry to pop a bolt and was in the midst of my truly rebellious phase, I understood on an intellectual level the truth of Christianity.  I had weighed everything and knew that Jesus was who he said he was.  I no longer believed in Christians, but I still believed in the truth of Christ.  I couldn't escape it.  I certainly wasn't living like a Christian, nor did I care to.  I hated Christians.

I didn't hate Jesus.  I just wanted to avoid him.  There is a significant difference between knowing in your mind, and knowing in your gut.  While the intellectual comprehensive must have kept me safe in many ways, it certainly didn't satisfy me.

I find myself in similar circumstances these past few weeks.

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I've been a big fan of Brennan Manning for a long time now.  He catches a lot of grief in certain circles.  I've never fully understood why.  I've talked to some Hyper-Reformed types, and for some reason he gives them fits of the spleen.  My only theory is that they find his emphasis on God's love to be threatening to their emphasis on the robotic god of wrath. (Which naturally, they assume they will be able to duck out of while those outside their theology will get the divine spanking.) I don't really now for sure.

A few days ago I came across this video of his.  I've heard him say things a long this line before, but this time it struck me differently.  I found myself IN the video.


Unfortunately, I find myself saying "No."  I do not believe that God really loves me.  I understand that he loves me in that intellectual sort of way.  There are more than enough Scripture verses that explain all of that.  However, I am not comprehending any of it on a gut level...at least not these past few weeks.  I can't say that I am pleased with this realization.  That having been said, I'm not really sure what I can do about it.

I am one of those guys who tends to emphasize God's love a lot.  This may indeed be the result of me not actually believing it.  It's obvious to everyone who knows me that I trash myself very easily.  It's a habit that I wear on my sleeve so that Satan can grab it and use it on me when ever he so desires.  Not only is there no reason for God to love me, there is more than enough really good reasons for him NOT to love me.  Trite answers along the lines of, "Well, just don't so that," are not particularly helpful.

I pray about this a lot.  I would appreciate it if you did to.

I really need to feel it in my bones.

Peace

Joe

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