Sunday, February 8, 2015

Zach Hoag, "Jesus shows me that God is a Father I can trust"

After my last post (Link), I remembered one more post which I think is helpful in discussing the difficulty of trusting God as Calvinists portray Him.  This one is from Zach Hoag (whose testimony out of Calvinism I included at the end of the last post).  In particular, Zach points out something I also found, that in Calvinism, "God's version of justice can't be known". (For me, this is a big problem).
Here are two excerpts from near the end of his post (which can be read in full here):

This is where God becomes the worst Father of all. Not only is he overwhelmingly and ferociously angry – but he is fundamentally untrustworthy. 
How does a belief like this square with Jesus’s own words about the fatherhood of God? 
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13).
If we resist squeezing this into some kind of Calvinistic soteriological system and simply let it stand, the message is startlingly simple: Jesus wants us to trust that God is a good Father. He is not messing with us. He is not filled with anger toward us (and everyone). And in his trustworthy, loving disposition he gives good gifts to his children and doesn’t demean their own sense of justice when they ask for something. Rather, he works in total concert with it. The Father is not fundamentally unlike us in his sense of justice, but just like us and even better than us with perfect, patient fairness and equity! 
No, the wrath of God is the anger of a good, trustworthy, and just Father when he encounters anything that may harm his beloved children and his good world. It’s the anger of a Dad whose daughters are in danger. It’s the anger of a Father whose precious child has been defrauded, demeaned, desecrated. And this anger is shown not in active or passive decrees without reference to the actual actions and choices of human beings, but is a response to those real, authentic actions and choices. It is a divine acknowledgment of those choices and the consequences that they inherently produce. God is no respecter of persons, indeed. He answers all who call upon him, and grants honor and eternal life to all who patiently do what is right. He understands the difference between a lie and genocide, reads the hearts of those who make choices because they were first abused by others, works restorative justice into the lives of those he loves rather than kneejerking into wild retribution. He will put the world to rights. 
Jesus, of course, is the one who shows us this. He is the express image of God. He only did what the Father was doing. His anger is God’s anger. His justice is God’s justice. His love is God’s love. His sacrifice is the covenant-restoring mercy of God, his resurrection the healing victory of God’s grace. 
Thus, Jesus shows me that God is a Father I can trust.

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