Who Am I?


Posted: February 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Faith | 30 Comments »

The video below uses two chairs to visually represent first the Protestant perspective of God and man, their relationship, and what it means to be saved. Using the same two chairs, the video then represents the Orthodox perspective of salvation. The common Protestant view is not misrepresented or distorted. I’ve heard the same thing from pulpits and read it in books. The stark comparison, though, again leaves me bemused why anyone would call the Protestant perspective “good news.”

30 Comments on “Salvation”

  1. 1 Amy Jane said at 8:00 pm on February 20th, 2011:

    So the Orthodox view is one of universal salvation?

  2. 2 Scott said at 12:00 am on February 21st, 2011:

    Hmmm. My series on Heaven & Earth (& Hell) would probably give the fuller answer (recognizing that I’m not Orthodox, of course). But the short answer is no, they don’t. It’s actually one of the ancient heresies to assert that all will be saved (though not to be incredulous at the idea that God’s love would not win over even the coldest heart in the end and hope and pray that it will).

    The longer answer is that there is so much confusion in the modern West today about what “salvation” even means, that it’s hard to even have the conversation. I see the chair illustration as a way to begin to break down that barrier. God has done in Jesus everything that can be done to save every human being. He joined his nature to ours and entered into death to defeat it on our behalf. It is no longer the nature of man to die. God has been and remains unwavering in his love for each and every one of us. God is a good God who loves mankind.

    And that will never change.

    The question is not how God sees us or acts toward us. The question in play is whether or not we want God. Out of love, God created a free creation that could choose not to love him. There is a single end to all things in the Christian view. The love of God that fills all things now will be fully unveiled and inescapable. Will we experience it as love and warmth? Or as a consuming fire? We will all experience the same reality, but we will not all want God. And to those who do not want him, the apocalyptic imagery in Scripture of a lake of fire is appropriate. We can’t be separated from God because there is no place that he is not.

  3. 3 Elizabeth Esther said at 1:39 am on February 21st, 2011:

    RT @tmorizot: Salvation http://bit.ly/gM0kfl //Protestant v. Orthodox view of salvation. Does God ever turn away from us or always pursue?

  4. 4 JenniferHampson said at 6:01 am on February 21st, 2011:

    RT @elizabethesther: RT @tmorizot: Salvation http://bit.ly/gM0kfl //Protestant v. Orthodox view of salvation. Does God ever turn away fr …

  5. 5 Amy Jane said at 11:55 am on February 21st, 2011:

    Thanks, Scott, for taking the question seriously. I recognize the original as heresy, and so hoped you wouldn’t think I was baiting you. I’ve been reading in the corners and trying to understand the older traditions for a while, so hearing from people on the inside is helpful.

    This is a fascinating perspective, and new for me to think on.

  6. 6 Scott said at 3:33 pm on February 21st, 2011:

    It’s a serious question. I recognize it’s nature and try to respect that aspect. If you click the ‘hell’ category on my blog and start at the beginning I try to address at least some of the common American misconceptions that I perceive as best I can. I’m hardly perfect and I may not have addressed something that is a particular issue for everyone, but I’ve at least tried to relate the common questions back to the ancient Christian (and modern Orthodox) understanding. I’ve read many of the writings of the ancient Fathers over the years. They are almost as removed from us in language and culture as the texts of the New Testament themselves, so it’s not always easy to grasp their meaning and I’ve probably misunderstood them in places. But much of what I write I have found broadly confirmed so I’m reasonably confident I mostly understand it properly.

    I will add that the theme of pursuit, of always facing us when we try to run, hide, and face away from God is most perfectly illustrated in the Gospels, which is why the examples in the video are drawn from them. But the texts we call the Old Testament are (from a Christian perspective) a shadow of Christ and we see the same dynamic in them from the beginning. In the story of ‘adam’ (which means man in the sense of mankind) they turn from God and hide and God pursues them. The story of Cain is often so noted for fratricide that we fail to notice that God seeks out Cain and tries to get him to acknowledge what he has done. Again and again God seeks out man. He calls a people to represent humanity and that people constantly turns from him. The language used is that of an adulterous wife. Yet the type of God (and we would say of Christ) is found in Hosea with Gomer. The act of God pursuing continues after the Resurrection. One of the most dramatic examples is that of Paul. While Christ doesn’t face most of us so dramatically, there are plenty of stories throughout Christian history up to the modern era of similarly dramatic encounters with Christ. The Orthodox would say that he is acting always for our salvation and the approach he does or does not take is always the right and necessary one for each and every one of us.

    I think the two stories about God provided in the illustration with the chairs are so fundamentally different from each other that if hearers were not conditioned to think of both stories as ‘Christian’ they would not consider them the same faith or stories about the same God. I lack any strong formation or identification with any Christian tradition and that’s how it looks to me.

    Thanks for asking a good question. Ask me a question and you get another post or two in the comments. 😉

  7. 7 Amy Jane said at 12:42 am on February 22nd, 2011:

    “Ask me a question and you get another post or two in the comments. ;)”

    Are you familiar with G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy? His opening says something about his detractors should have known better than to challenge or ask for his beliefs “Knowing I will write a book upon the feeblest provocation.”

    I’ve always loved that. I figured w/ G.K.’s access to the press he was the closest thing to a blogger in his era.

  8. 8 Scott said at 4:49 am on February 22nd, 2011:

    It’s been a very long time since I read him, but I’m familiar with Chesterton. I hadn’t made that connection, but on some level it does fits.

  9. 9 Steve Robinson said at 8:33 am on February 22nd, 2011:

    Hi Scott (and Amy), I found your blog post track-back. Amy is correct that Orthodoxy often sounds like universalism at first but Scott does a very good job of parsing the Orthodox understanding of the love of God. One of the Fathers says “The same sun melts wax and hardens clay”, and likewise the same love of God will be experienced as warmth or fire depending on the disposition of one’s heart toward Him. Another says, The sun still shines even though a man has his eyes closed. I think this is a strength of the Orthodox view is that it makes explicit what many Protestants are trying to figure out how to get to but it is difficult to do under the umbrella of the “forensic views” (pen-sub, imputation, appeasement etc.). A short and decent essay on the topic can be found if you google “The River of Fire” Kalamiros. Thanks for the conversation! (And to Elizabeth Esther for the trackback too).

  10. 10 Scott said at 8:35 pm on February 22nd, 2011:

    Thanks for stopping by and letting me know I hadn’t misstated things! That’s always reassuring — at least to me.

  11. 11 Young Mom said at 9:03 pm on February 22nd, 2011:

    This is very interesting, and it’s closer to how I would like to see God. I think I’ll be reading some of your other posts on hell, because I am still trying to figure out if there is any explanation for other faiths. Are people that seek God with their whole being and live moral lives doomed to “melt” since they do not have the “right” faith of christianity? And what about actions, are their any actions that a christian could do that would cause God to reject them in the end? I like the idea of God pursuing us, but honestly I just don’t feel pursued. I’m kind of at the point of thinking either God is loving, and he loves me, and he will either make that clear to me or he will understand if I never fully “get it”, OR God is the hateful perfectionistic manipulative God I wouldn’t want to spend enternity with anyways.

  12. 12 Scott said at 9:34 pm on February 22nd, 2011:

    There are things we do and ways we can choose to shape ourselves that render us unable to experience the fire of God’s love as anything but torment. The pursuit of God is an interesting thing. It can be powerful and obvious, but it often isn’t. (God simultaneously respects our will and works in the manner that is best for our salvation.) My childhood had a lot of spiritual influences. Christianity was just one of many. And when I was asked to leave a service from the pulpit as a teen parent, I decided I had had enough of those sorts of people. I believed I understood the Christian God (not least through the actions of those I had encountered) and rejected him. I would say I had little sense of being pursued for the next twelve years and more of my life as I followed other paths from childhood formation (primarily a form of private Hinduism). Looking back, though, I can see many threads and many encounters that were setting the stage for a time when I might be willing to admit that perhaps I had not really understood this particular God.

    I would say that God is in no rush. Some things take time for us to notice the effect.

    As far as people of other faiths go, the same general things apply. But other religions tend to offer fewer tools for God to use because they are oriented in different ways. Those at the center of Christian faith have the sacraments (or mysteries) to help shape and form them. They have the disciplines of the Church operating in a communion with others as well. We do not and cannot know who God is saving. We are to proclaim him with our lives, try not to hinder others in any way, and be concerned with working out our own salvation.

    Some of that is poorly stated, I think, but it’s the best that came to mind.

  13. 13 Tara Meghan said at 9:55 am on February 25th, 2011:

    “The love of God that fills all things now will be fully unveiled and inescapable. Will we experience it as love and warmth? Or as a consuming fire? We will all experience the same reality, but we will not all want God. And to those who do not want him, the apocalyptic imagery in Scripture of a lake of fire is appropriate. We can’t be separated from God because there is no place that he is not.”

    Thank you! 🙂

  14. 14 Stegokitty said at 10:22 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    “The love of God that fills all things now will be fully unveiled and inescapable. Will we experience it as love and warmth? Or as a consuming fire? We will all experience the same reality, but we will not all want God. And to those who do not want him, the apocalyptic imagery in Scripture of a lake of fire is appropriate. We can’t be separated from God because there is no place that he is not.”

    While God’s presence is certainly there in the Lake of Fire, it is a countenance not of love, but of justice and wrath. God is not sitting up in Heaven loving those who are eternally condemned (if that is what’s being suggested here). No, the unrighteous (spelled those who’ve NOT trusted, NOT rested upon Christ alone for redemption, for the forgiveness of sins, and for life eternal) and the righteous (those who by God’s GRACE have!) will not share the same destiny. The people of God are the New Jerusalem, the City of God. Outside are the “dogs” (dogs were not considered cuddly creature pets in the days when that saying was made), there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the smoke of their torment ascends upward forever.

    Scott says “It is no longer man’s nature to die”. Really? No longer MANKIND’S nature to die? Only IN Christ is there life. Otherwise, it is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgement. But only those who are IN Christ, by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (though not by a faith that is alone — that is apart from good works, for which “we” were saved) shall see eternal life.

    And the other problem is the loose use of “we” and “us”. The “we” and “us” of the promises is for the covenant people, NOT for everyone on the planet.

    The fellow in the video BEGAN to give a decent representation of the Protestant (spelled Biblical) view of the fall, of redemption accomplished and applied, of the incarnation, and of the love of God, but made several blunders and misdirections with the visual aids. He said something to the effect of “no matter what righteous deeds that man may do …” with the dark chair (representing fallen man) turned toward God (the light chair) yet God is still with his back to fallen man.

    But this is NOT the case at all! Certainly fallen man is religious, but not toward the true God. Fallen man is an idol factory, and he “will not have this Man to reign over us”. No, fallen man is bent on keeping his back to the true God, supressing that which he does know about God, and replacing it with an idol. It is GOD who has turned to the fallen creature (in fact Who ordained the fall in the first place, as a means of beginning the story of his wrath against sin, and of his mercy toward sinners!), and Who must turn the heart of man before he will EVER turn FROM his sin (which he loves) and turn unto Christ (whom he despises).

    Fallen man is DEAD in sins and trespasses, at enmity with God, a lover of sin, a hater of righteousness, a slave to sin, in darkness, “unable to understand spiritual things, because they are Spiritually discerned”, under the rule of Satan, in the kingdom of darkness ….. and he LIKES it that way. He might find it uncomfortable, even downright miserable at times, but nothing could be MORE miserable than to turn from his sin, and to embrace Christ — the TRUE Christ of the Gospel.

    Dead sinners cannot, because they will not, turn to God.

    But GOD, who is rich in mercy, does awaken some from their deadly slumber, healing their blind eyes, unplugging their deaf ears, straightening their withered hands and legs, and pulling them close to Him, they can see their sin, see it for what it is — an affront to a holy God!, Now he can loathe his sin, and comprehending the mercy of God in Christ, turn from his sin unto Christ, embracing Him as He offers Himself in the Gospel. He forgives them, adopts them into the family of God, and begins, by His Spirit to sanctify their lives, little by little, keeping them in the faith in which He began in them (promising to complete the work He began) to the end, and glorifying them all.

    Jesus said “No one CAN come to me, UNLESS the Father DRAWS him, and I WILL RAISE him up on the Last Day”. Jesus repeats this phrase, with slight modification three times in the 6th chapter of John, making it clear that NO ONE has the ability (can has to do with ability, not permission!) to come to him UNLESS the necessary condition of drawing (powerful, effectual drawing) is done by the Father, and Christ raises ALL OF THESE on the Last Day. He says to them who do not believe that they do not believe “BECAUSE you are not my sheep”. He doesn’t say “You are not my sheep because you don’t believe”, even though that’s true enough …. but Jesus was talking about a condition they were in. They were children of the devil (spiritually speaking of course), and God had not changed them, and apparently had no intention to do so. It was upon the teaching of Jesus about God SOVEREIGN CHOICE of one sinner over another for salvation that caused many to stop following Him.

    God saves sinners.
    God doesn’t help sinners to save themselves.

    The man’s illustration with the chairs fails again:
    Jesus put Himself in front of men all day long, every day, and what did they do?
    They crucified Him!

    No, God doesn’t simply put himself in front of men.
    God changes the disposition of the heart.
    The ONLY reason that one man loves God when another does not, is because God has given the one the ability to do so.

    God saves sinners.

  15. 15 Scott said at 10:24 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    I’m glad you found that helpful, Tara. Thanks.

  16. 16 Scott said at 10:56 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    Stegokitty, I decided to allow your comment because it illustrates the difference fairly well. It’s tone, though, is not one I normally encourage on my blog.

    It is no longer the nature of mankind to die. Christ, the Son of the Living God, joined his nature to that of humanity in the Incarnation. He endured everything we endure all the way to death. But he is life and the source of all things. It is no longer the nature of mankind to die because our nature is joined to life itself. That’s why all will be raised. Most Protestants retain that belief in the general resurrection of the dead to this day even if it seems many have forgotten why it’s true.

    Steve Robinson couldn’t possibly illustrate all 30k+ Protestant versions of the story in one simple illustration, so it’s not surprising that his illustration didn’t line up precisely with your particular variation. It does a good job of capturing the essence of the most common Protestant story. As it should, he spent a lot of years as a Protestant. I’ve heard pretty much exactly the version he outlined from the pulpit and in other settings myself.

    The Orthodox version he provides, while obviously truncated to fit in a short illustration, is the story we find in Scripture. It’s the gospel the Apostles taught. It’s the unified interpretation and proclamation of everything we have from the early church that can be considered even vaguely orthodox.

    I understand that the interpretation you and many others hold of Scripture is a different one. But when you peel back the layers of the onion, the only real basis for the many different interpretations is that you believe them to be true. You may assert that belief yourself or you may adopt the view of an authority figure you trust. (Often it’s a combination of the two.) But those interpretations can all be traced to specific (and usually comparatively recent) individuals in history. I know. I’ve traced many such beliefs that way since I became Christian. Once you do that, it simply begs the question. Why should I believe that person is right in their personal novel interpretation of scripture? (Actually, a lot of the time it’s not even that novel an interpretation. An awful lot of the modern era doctrines look similar to bits of some of the ancient heresies reworked to drop the parts that would never fly today.)

    But I appreciate the time you appear to have taken in writing your comment. And I believe it does further illustrate some of the differences between the perspectives.

  17. 17 Sisterlisa said at 12:15 am on February 27th, 2011:

    Thank you for sharing your video and the message of God’s all consuming love. I agree with what you have presented here. Will be sharing this with my friends.

  18. 18 Sisterlisa said at 6:25 am on February 27th, 2011:

    RT @tmorizot: Salvation http://bit.ly/gM0kfl @DaveLewerenz @FCIYORG I think you'll both like the message here. 🙂

  19. 19 Linda said at 10:59 am on February 28th, 2011:

    Just wondering, does any Orthodox believe it would have been more loving of God to have never created people that He knew would never accept His love?

  20. 20 Linda said at 11:08 am on February 28th, 2011:

    Can you explain why do some people love God and why do some people hate God? What cause the difference?

  21. 21 Scott said at 12:07 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    Linda, I’m hardly an expert on all things Orthodox, but I believe I can safely say the answer to your first question is no. There are any number of reasons for that. First, and foremost, a God of love does not and cannot begrudge existence to any of his creation. That’s ultimately the problem with annihilationism — an ancient heresy that held that God would allow those who truly did not want him to achieve the non-existence they sought by turning from their only source of life. Jesus sustains all things in his love. It would be a failure in love to do anything else.

    The question itself also treats each of us as too much of an individual — as though we were distinct little islands. We aren’t. We live in an interconnected web we can barely comprehend. We are tied to other human beings and to creation itself in ways that we do not even always see. Not to go all “It’s a Wonderful Life” on you, but that movie is not without a core of truth. None of us knows the difference our absence would make in the world. And with a God who specializes in transforming evil into good, not even the worst of us can help but leave a trail of good. That’s what we see most clearly in Jesus. God takes the absolute worst we can do and still changes creation for the better from it. Not even really despite it. From it.

    We lack the ability to see how the world would be poorer if we were not in it. But God can see it. And he cherishes each of us, loves every one of us, and gives himself so that we might love him.

    As far as why people sometimes hate God and sometimes love God, I have no clue. I wouldn’t even be so bold as to claim that I do love God. I believe I want to love him. That’s about as far as I would go.


  22. 22 Linda said at 1:06 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    It is written:

    “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”” John 3:36

    Is the wrath of God the same as the love of God?

  23. 23 Scott said at 1:44 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    I would first say that it’s a little dangerous to try to take snippets from the Holy Scriptures, especially outside the tradition of interpretation within the Church over the centuries, and construct anything from them. In the second century, the Scriptures were described as a mosaic whose tiles, rightly put together, form the image of a king. The heretics were said to take the tiles of that mosaic and form the image of a wolf instead.

    John the Forerunner was the last in the line of the Old Testament prophets, so most would interpret his use of ‘wrath’ in the same apocalyptic terms. And as a rule, yes, that usage of ‘wrath’ is often understood as the experience of the love of God by those who do not want him.

    The best lens through which to understand John is probably the words of Jesus himself. From earlier in chapter 3 speaking to Nicodemus:

    Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

    Jesus describes the condemnation. Light has come and we loved darkness. We choose not to come into the light. Our condemnation is that we try to hide. And one day we will not be able to escape the light of the fire of the love of God.

  24. 24 Linda said at 11:40 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    I would say it is very dangerous and illogical to say that God’s wrath is His love. This is the definition of wrath:

    wrath (rat̸h, rät̸h; chiefly Brit rôt̸h)


    1. intense anger; rage; fury
    2. any action carried out in great anger, esp. for punishment or vengeance

    Origin: ME wraththe < OE wræththo < wrath, wroth

  25. 25 Scott said at 4:58 am on March 1st, 2011:

    Linda, I’m familiar with the English definition of wrath. A dictionary definition of an English word isn’t really useful when it comes to interpreting the Holy Scriptures.

    First, they weren’t written in English.

    Second, generic definitions in the language in which they were written (to the extent we can recover them) also aren’t necessarily helpful. It’s more helpful to have some understanding of what was intended by the author, at least in the case of the New Testament. (It’s not particularly helpful in the case of the Old Testament since that was radically reinterpreted by Christians in the light of the fullness of the revelation of Christ.) But how do you discern that? You can’t pick it out of the text itself. You have to learn it from the author or from those who learned from him.

    Third, all language is finite and cannot truly describe an infinite God. It’s important to keep that in mind. When we use words like ‘wrath’ or even ‘love’, we can only understand them insofar as we have experienced them. And we have to recognize that God goes far beyond our finite experience.

    Nevertheless, Scripture tells us that God is light and God is self-emptying love. That is his essence revealed to us in Jesus of Nazareth (and told us in Scripture). You will find a number of threads in the ancient Church, but one of the oldest is that everything we experience of God is an expression of his love. When we turn from God and shape ourselves according to the likeness of darkness, we become unable to bear the light. And when that happens, we experience the light of God’s love as wrath. God is not some pagan deity whose anger must be appeased.

    That is not the only thread, but it is the most common in Christian interpretation for nearly the first thousand years of Christianity.

    Of course, you are welcome to worship anything you like. That’s a freedom God gives us all. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to worship, much less love, a deity of rage and fury, but then I often don’t understand why others make the choices they do.

    I’ll share a short homily by St. Antony the Great. Perhaps it will help.

    God is good, without passions and unchangeable. One who understands that it is sound and true to affirm that God does not change might very well ask: `how, then, is it possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good, becoming merciful to those who know Him and, on the other hand, shunning the wicked and being angry with sinners.’ We must reply to this, that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, because to rejoice and to be angered are passions. Nor is God won over by gifts from those who know Him, for that would mean that He is moved by pleasure. It is not possible for the Godhead to have the sensation of pleasure or displeasure from the condition of humans, God is good, and He bestows only blessings, and never causes harm, but remains always the same. If we humans, however, remain good by means of resembling Him, we are united to Him, but if we become evil by losing our resemblance to God, we are separated from Him. By living in a holy manner, we unite ourselves to God; by becoming evil, however, we become at enmity with Him. It is not that He arbitrarily becomes angry with us, but that our sins prevent God from shining within us, and expose us to the demons who make us suffer. If through prayer and acts of compassionate love, we gain freedom from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him change, but rather that by means of our actions and turning to God, we have been healed of our wickedness, and returned to the enjoyment of God’s goodness. To say that God turns away from the sinful is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind.

  26. 26 Linda said at 1:31 am on March 4th, 2011:

    The New Testament was written in Greek, and here is the information on that Greek word that is translated into wrath in English from John 3:36

    3709. orgé

    impulse, wrath
    Original Word: ὀργή, ῆς, ἡ
    Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
    Transliteration: orgé
    Phonetic Spelling: (or-gay’)
    Short Definition: anger, wrath, passion
    Definition: anger, wrath, passion; punishment, vengeance.

    3709 orgḗ (from orgáō, “to teem, swelling up to constitutionally oppose”) – properly, settled anger (opposition), i.e. rising up from an ongoing (fixed) opposition.

    3709 /orgḗ (“settled anger”) proceeds from an internal disposition which steadfastly opposes someone or something based on extended personal exposure, i.e. solidifying what the beholder considers wrong (unjust, evil).

    [“OrgÄ“ comes from the verb oragō meaning, ‘to teem, to swell’; and thus implies that it is not a sudden outburst, but rather (referring to God’s) fixed, controlled, passionate feeling against sin . . . a settled indignation (so Hendriksen)” (D. E. Hiebert, at 1 Thes 1:10).]

  27. 27 Scott said at 7:13 am on March 4th, 2011:

    Linda, I knew the Greek definition of the word and had already addressed that in my comment above. And I also recognize that, especially over the last five hundred years or so, a lot of people have decided to worship a God who is sometimes angry and sometimes loving — basically an ever-changing deity ruled as much by his passions as we are. I also know that’s not the traditional Christian God and see no reason to accept those ideas or act as if they were true. Yes, I recognize and acknowledge that you have a different interpretation of the text. I prefer the traditional Christian interpretation.

  28. 28 Steve Robinson said at 10:16 pm on March 7th, 2011:

    It has been a few days since I’ve checked in on the comments here. Wow…
    Scott is correct that the issue is made clear in stegokitty’s post, and people like Rob Bell (who are protestants) are wrestling with the idea that we need to be “saved from God”. Pen-sub and atonement theories that focus on justice only highlight the issue. Linda asks a good question, “How DO we then reconcile the concept of the wrath of God and the love of God”? The basic answer is “God is love”.. God is not “justice”. God is not “wrath”. God is not “righteousness”. All anthropomorphisms of the “emotions” or “states of being” of God must be subsumed under the rubric “God is love” because God exists in Trinity, a union of love. The story of the Prodigal Son and the Elder Brother is the perfect illustration of the concept: The same Father with the same love for both sons is experienced by one as love and the other experiences the Father’s love as a fire. The Father does not change, but the son responds in anger, resentment and refuses to enter the party, ie., is in hell. God’s active chastisement, discipline and displays of “wrath” in the temporal sense are for our correction and to show us the fruits of sin. God is so Sovereign He creates beings in His own image that are sovereign and are capable of choosing their own disposition toward Him, which He in His love for man will honor in the day of judgment.

  29. 29 Scott said at 10:41 pm on March 7th, 2011:

    Thanks Steve. That’s pretty much what I was trying to express, but I think you said it better than what I managed. You certainly said it in fewer words, which I think is a good thing.

  30. 30 Paul Raybould said at 3:24 pm on August 19th, 2011:

    Interesting thoughts and thread of comments. I know it has been a couple months since anything was added, but I thought the focus to me for salvation is on having a relationship with God and Christ (via the Holy Spirit). I have been a believer for 37 years and am just starting to feel like I am clumbsily (?) relating to God. I apologize that this sounds like religious rhetoric, but experientially… it is what ‘saves’ me. And, it is entirely Biblical.

    So, rather than focusing on universalism, or predestination of ‘election’ (of certain people), I see that Jesus came to rescue us… Luke 4 – announcing his ministry there – heal the brokenhearted, blind to see… etc. He stands at the door and knocks (to everyone), but not many open the door.

    I am uncomfortable with a protestant presentation that leaves out the death to self, penal substitution, and equates spiritual transformation with ‘works’ – so, I liked that part of the orthodox presentation when the chairs are laid flat. And my understanding is that God elects everyone (and doesn’t wish any to perish). Just look at the parable of the wedding feast. However, what is predestined is that those (who really relate honestly with Jesus and die to their self ) become transformed into little Jesus’. The incarnation in me. Christ in me the hope of glory. What’s predestined is that He is the firstfruits, and we will be transformed to be like Him. God wants you and me to be infused with Jesus – which rescues, transforms and saves us. God wants a family for a new heaven and new earth, but the family will be our personalities – recreated by Christ.

    There was an early church father who equated it taking 9 months for a child to be formed in a womb, with the transformation we MUST experience in life in order to be formed for heaven. So, it really doesn’t matter what the theology is… are you relating to God daily?

    Prior to Christ we have that sinful nature that avoids God, but as we turn to allow Jesus in – He changes that and gives us a heart that desires Him. If we pursue Him, he heals us and brings us into a more fully human state, (the glory of God is man fully alive) which orients us to be like Ps 119 where it says, “I run in the paths of your commands because you set my heart free.” Then a cycle of wholeness contributes to holiness – they go together.

    Start that we live in the Matrix, have a powerful spiritual enemy, and are in a very dark time of an already spiritually dark age (Kali yuga). Add that we are incredibly broken as individuals and are very hard pressed to find healthy shepherds or communities. Then add the confusion about various ‘systems of theology. Geeeesh. It’s a wonder anyone can find ‘Salvation’.

    I would strongly recommend any of Dallas Willard’s books, ‘Divine Conspiracy’. but also love ‘Waking the Dead’ by John Eldredge.

    Thanks for the presentation and opportunity to comment.