Saturday, January 23, 2016

What's Wrong with this Picture?

On Tuesday evening I posted "The Gospel in Chairs." That post included a few pictures from the very beginning of a video message that compares and contrasts the Protestant and Orthodox views of salvation. Here's a snapshot from Tuesday's post:
[Note: What's written here won't make sense unless you see that one first. Click here to read "The Gospel in Chairs."]

From there video message continues as follows:
"But God, in his love for man, sends his son, Jesus Christ, who becomes man and lives as we should have lived, in perfect communion and in sinlessness before God.
[Dark chair is moved around to face the light chair; both face inward.]
"Then at the end of his life, Jesus Christ is crucified, and when he’s crucified, God does the unthinkable: he lays all the sin of the human race on his son, and when he does that, because he is holy and righteous, he turns his back on his own son, and the son experiences the fullness of the wrath of God against us in our stead.
[Light chair faces away.]
So what's wrong with this picture?

In the typical Protestant view of salvation, God turns away.

God turns away both from sinful humanity and from Jesus on the Cross.

Protestants generally would say, following certain Bible verses, that God can't look upon sin so he must turn away. Protestants, and Roman Catholics, would say that God's only reaction to sin is wrath, that is, an impersonal non-emotional administration of justice. Those guilty of sin must be punished, whether they are the ones God loves (all human beings) or even the Beloved Son of God, that is, Jesus Christ. So therefore, God turns away, withholding His love, bringing, or allowing, sin and death and destruction to win out.

Here's the conclusion of Steve Robinson's portrayal of the Protestant view of salvation:
"Now, we sinners, if we believe that Jesus Christ has done this, if we believe that Jesus Christ has died for our sins, we, too, can now have this perfect fellowship with God once again.
[Dark chair is moved back around to the light chair; both face inward.]

"Because when God looks at us sinners, he no longer sees us, and he no longer sees our sin. He sees Jesus Christ in his blood. We are covered in the blood of the Lamb. We are, as Martin Luther said, 'snow-covered dung,' or as R.C. Sproul put it, 'Jesus Christ is our asbestos suit against the white-hot wrath of God against sinners.”
"But, if the human being who is sinful does not believe in Jesus Christ and his righteousness and accept the righteousness of Christ in his stead, then God cannot look upon him.
[Light chair faces away.]

"And in the end, the sinner will be cast into hell in eternal separation from God, suffering the eternal punishment he deserves for his sins, because he has not accepted the sacrifice of Christ.

"In a nutshell, that’s the Protestant view of salvation."
So what is wrong with this picture... specifically what's wrong with this picture of God?

What do you think?

What's missing from Steve Robinson's video explanation of the "Protestant view of salvation?"

Besides the fact that the this explanation entirely leaves out the resurrection of Jesus (!) I have started to see two huge stumbling blocks:
  1. We say "God is Love" but the typical Protestant or Roman Catholic view of salvation puts such emphasis on God's wrath against sinners. How can that work?

    (++ I'm hoping to find some resources to study the the doctrine of the wrath of God in depth. I reference to a book online called Reclaiming God's Wrath but I haven't found a copy that I can borrow. I don't want to pay $66 for a book that I'm not sure I even want!)
  2. Jesus says that He and the Father are One. The Gospel of John and many other places in the New Testament affirm this Unity--while also maintaining the distinction between the two. If that's true, how could God the Father ever turn his back on the Son? The protestant view says he does. Can that happen?

     (++ I'm hoping to gather a group of mature Christians to study Trinitarian Theology--a deeply Christ centered view of Scripture and God that seems to have such depth and truth to it. It would say, for example, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are forever together. One never turns against another! Their eternal loving relationship is what created the world! Their loving connection with one another forms the basis of all existence. It does need to be carefully studied, however. There may be some problems or contradictions in it that would say that it's on the wrong track.)

I'm studying and praying. I invite you to do the same.

Please know, however, that God is much more powerful than our ideas. I am confident, as I wrote at Christmastime, that the light of Christ shines in all darkness, and the goodness of Jesus comes through even when our understandings are imperfect. Praise God for that! (See my post "The Light Shines.")

It is good, however, to portray the ways of God as clearly as possible, and that's what I'm hoping to do in the days to come.

Pray for me as I pray for you.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree from the first few sentences. God is always reaching out to us. Numerous verses support this.