(Link to part 1)
Thanks to Pastor McCain for re-posting my piece. Welcome to any new readers.
Again, ELCA theologian Steven Paulson’s words are a bit breathtaking:
“…The decisive cosmic battle of God against sin, death, and devil was already waged and won when Christ was raised from the dead to make a new kingdom of people who live with no law, nowhere to go, and nothing to accomplish. They were simply–free.” (italics mine, Lutheran Theology, p. 7)
So what might we say to this in a nutshell?
How about this: To say that truly free people don’t have anything to accomplish, anywhere to go, or won’t ever need to be directed at all in this life (or heaven for that matter) is something we have no business asserting.
As someone on Paul McCain’s blog said, this is “Lutheran nihilism”.
Some may be curious about how the conversation I described in my post ended up. Here are some of the *highlights* of the rest of the conversation
To my: “I can’t imagine a parent not having some expectations – hopes – for their child. To not have expectations of a child does not sound like love to me, but disinterest, lack of concern, lack of love”, I got “Fortunately, God is not made in the image of man, but vice versa…..”
I then followed up: “Love always hopes”, we are told – what kind of hopes do you think God has?” and he said: “This is what I mean by attributing human qualities to God. God has no hope. How could He? He knows the outcome of everything. He does not hope that something will change in a way He is not aware of.”
Later he commented: “We think of ‘passion’, whether it be sexual, emotional, or rational in our human way. God’s passion is to love, and He does that beyond our ability to comprehend.”
I replied: “Well yes. But is [I Corinthians 13:4-8]…not a description of Divine Love? If it is not, then it is a description of the best human love. And if this is the case, why would God’s love be any less – or substantially different – than this? Of course God loves. God feels compassion. God feels jealousy. God regrets (and repents). God gets angry. God hopes… God wants…. God desires… God is unchanging, in that His ‘Infinite, unconditional, self-sacrificial love is His unfailing stance toward us’ as someone told me, but this does not preclude anger, jealousy, compassion, hope, etc…”
(note: I’d say becoming like a child entails believing this!)
My interlocutor quoted the end of Matthew 25 and said… “You see, nothing there about ourselves, but only about others, the least of His brethren. So don’t worry about the wolves; they are only dangerous when we worry about ourselves.”
“I didn’t say anything about worrying. I said [that]… The point here is that if we do not be who we are – if we do not embrace the fullness of the life that He gives us – the only life that is truly life (and love and light) – we are in danger of falling off the path, where there are wolves. We really do “walk in danger all the way”, and we do not want to mess around for a minute with doubt-inducing and faith-destroying sin. This kind of talk is clear in the Scriptures, clear in Luther, clear in the Confessions, clear in Chemnitz, etc. As I said in the Judas post, there is ***no guarantee*** that God will renew us again when we fall from faith – and this makes Him no less gracious.”
In other words, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
I believe that. Because sin kills us. Rejection of the Word of God destroys us. Sin is doubt-inducing and faith-destroying. We are to not be worried, but alert. We are to be sheep that cling to their Shepherd, scurry to His side, and stay closely to Him. Where He is, we want to be. We flee both sin (our sin nature in general) and sins….”
No “Lutheran nihilism” for me. Be alert.