Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unspoken Sermons: The Higher Faith


Richard Beck does it again in this article. What powerful and moving lessons and thoughts Beck (some via MacDonald) shares in these excerpts.

The conclusion I reached was that, if the various doctrines of my childhood were true, God was mean, petty, callous and irascible.

Been there.

[A]s I read I just couldn't square the God of my doctrine with the person of Jesus I encountered in the gospels.

My encounter with George MacDonald around this time gave me the courage to jettison the God of my doctrine and to embrace the God of Jesus Christ I found in the gospels. Basically, MacDonald got me to the point where I said, "Screw it, God is like Jesus. End of story."

Amen.

Practically, what this meant was that when I faced two rival interpretations of God I'd always go with the interpretation that revealed God to be more loving, more merciful, more fair, more "for us."

God is, simply, better than you can imagine.

Agreed! Here from MacDonald:

Sad, indeed, would the whole matter be, if the Bible had hold us everything God meant for us to believe. But herein is the Bible itself greatly wronged. It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as the Word, the Way, the Truth. The Bible leads us to Jesus...The one use of the Bible is to make us look at Jesus, that through him we might know his Father and our Father, his God and our God. Till we thus know Him, let us hold the Bible dear as the moon of our darkness, by which we travel towards the east; not dear as the sun whence her light cometh, and toward which we haste, that, walking in the sun himself, we may no more need the mirror that reflected his absent brightness.

"But is not this dangerous doctrine? Will not a man be taught thus to believe the things he likes best, even to pray for that which he likes best? And will be not grow arrogant in his confidence?"

If it be true that the Spirit strives with our spirit; if it be true that God teaches men, we may safely leave those dreaded results to him. If the man is of the Lord's company, he is safer with him than with those who would secure their safety by hanging on the outskirts and daring nothing. If he is not taught of God in that which he hopes for, God will let him know it. He will receive something else than he prays for. If he can pray to God for anything not good, the answer will come in the flames of the consuming fire. These will soon bring him to some of his spiritual senses. But it will be far better for him to be thus sharply tutored, than to go on a snail's pace in the journey of the spiritual life. And for arrogance, I have seen nothing breed it faster or in more offensive forms than the worship of the letter.

Again, from Beck:

I could no longer accept a vision of God that was low, poor, selfish and wrong. A view of God that violated the noblest part of my character, and not just my character, the noblest part of humanity. Or will you believe that humans are more forgiving, more loving, and more just than God himself? That humans are better than God? That while I might forgive the wrongs against me (as Jesus forgave those who crucified him) God cannot? That while I recoil at the thought of torturing my child God will torture his children for all eternity?

No, the answer has to be no. God is better than me. Better than you. Better than we can possibly imagine.

Wow.

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