Posted by: markbasil | August 3, 2016

On God’s Wrath

 

[response to this post: Punisher or Pushover?]

 

I very much appreciate this correction, or addition, or “going further,” into the language of God’s wrath.  I did not find that section of “A More CLG” the most helpful.  As I examined my own life, I felt a sense that God was so often sparing me from the terrible (just/natural) consequences of my sin yet when I would persist and become hopelessly addicted He would use his wrath with a physician’s skill and carefully allow just enough bitter medicine to bring me to my senses (most dramatically in the conception of my first son).

I relate very strongly to G.M.’s words you quoted:
“The Lord never came to deliver men from the consequences of their sins while yet those sins remained: that would be to cast out of the window the medicine of cure while yet the man lay sick; to go dead against the very laws of being (George MacDonald, Life Essential, 15). ”

And especially appreciated your linking this punishment-as-medicine to the story of the penitent prodigal and (self-)righteous older son:
“And sadly, for the kid who didn’t run away, it didn’t end in the Father’s arms. Avoiding sin, he was still bound in self, a slave to his own self-righteous striving.”
Thank you for taking us deeper than the “sins” into the underlying problem of self-will too.  (My spiritual father used to say, “trying to stop sinning is like plucking mushrooms- a pointless task!  You must cleanse the soil to stop the mushrooming fruit from ever sprouting.”

I know you have to write with a specific audience in mind, and I’m learning I’m often not that audience.  For me, I always like trying to redeem the scriptures and the fullness of the biblical, classical Christian lexicon through nuanced, God-breathed ‘definitions’ and interpretation (thus I didn’t like doing away with “the wrath of God” neither do I like doing away with “punishment”)
I worry that to try and remove biblical, classically Christian language from our contemporary lexicon is just to delay the problem folks will have to have when they encounter the ‘difficult language’ of the gospels, or worse the psalms, read in worship).  I have a similar problem with loose contemporary translations that want to avoid ‘harsh language’ rather than interpret and define the language rightly.

So I enjoy your points 4 and 5, as they give me a way to work with the concepts of God’s wrath and His punishments when I find them on the lips of Christ or the prophets, etc.

Thank you;
-Mark Basil

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