The common theories and methods for describing the process of justification had become a puzzle for me. I was not a terrified sinner plagued by guilt and seeking justification before a cosmic judge.
What if the church were not weaponized to pick up stones, we were not quick to condemn, and the Bible were not used to justify judging others but to transform people’s lives? Without condemnation, people would sense the presence of Jesus.
Grand words such as “righteousness” and “justification” can sound old-fashioned and judicially governed. Should we be surprised that people today need a simpler explanation and desire integrity and justice as social virtues?
Believing in a judgmental God can be dangerous. Assuming that God demands an ethic of retribution not only gives a penal flavor to our theology but also encourages zealous violent retribution by cultivating its justification.
When the Ark of God’s Presence falls on hard times, David wants to bring it to Jerusalem (1 Samuel 4–5). On the way, great festivity ensues that includes many band-accompanied songs. Everyone knows that something wonderful is happening, but suddenly, the cart transporting the sacred vessel is shaken by the oxen bearing it (2 Samuel 6:6). Uzzah, one of the servants attending the ark, responds by reaching out to steady it and is struck dead on the spot.
God’s anger is His love directed against whatever exploits and abuses people and the earth. That’s good news as far as it goes, but what about the wrath unleashed as retribution against people in the Old Testament?
I love the story in which God comes down to Mount Sinai. As Moses ascends, entering the thick cloud at the mountain’s summit, he experiences God’s reality and comes away shining with its divine afterglow (Exodus 34:29-35). He stands at the heart of this supreme revelation, crying out for God to show him more of His glory, His life, His character.
Today’s thoughts focus on the law. Unfortunately, there have been centuries of theological bias and bad teachings that disparage Old Testament law.