Sonshift Study – Chapter Four

This is the fifth week of our discussion on my book, Sonshift: Everything Changes in the Father’s Embrace.” Today, we’ll be looking at chapter four titled, “Theology Shift.”

Each Monday, I give a brief overview of a chapter from my book, followed by a series of questions. I invite you to respond to some or all of these questions, or give additional comments on the chapter that my questions don’t address.  My only rules are that you’ve actually read the chapter and that your answers are brief.  Okay, off we go!

Chapter Four: Theology Shift

Theology, by definition, is the study of God. And how we know God frames everything else that we will ever understand about life. The question is, how can we know God? We looked at three ways we can know Him. We also looked at how Jesus defines God for us. Then we pulled the curtain back on a lot of our assumptions about God.

“Salvation was not a legal transaction made in some heavenly courtroom to satisfy an angry judge, it was a rescue mission planned in the heart of a loving Father.” (p. 104 , Kindle loc. 1699)

Finally, we looked at how God is first and foremost about relationship, therefore our theology must address issues of the heart. Here’s a summary statement about Theology Shift:

“This Theology Shift, then, is moving away from filling our heads with information about God, to enlarging our hearts in God. It’s the difference between knowing how to accumulate more facts about God and learning how to experience more of Him.” (p. 108, Kindle loc. 1780)

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does interpreting God and Scripture through the lens of Jesus Christ affect your reading of Scripture? Understanding the Old Testament? What do we do with stories that seem to contradict the nature of Christ?
  2. The author deconstructs what he calls myths and distortions about our view of God as Father. Why do you think it’s important not to pit the Father against Jesus, or the idea that God is angry and can’t look at sin, or that the Father abandoned Jesus on the cross? How might these popular teachings negatively affect our view of God and our relationship with Him?
  3. The author makes a big point about the incarnation of Christ in regard to why Jesus came to save us. Why is this important?
  4. Why do you think it’s important to know that God is relational before anything else? How would this change the way we relate to God? How would this help against assaults on our faith?
  5. Why is it important to see theology as heart-based theology (with our mind renewed in the truth as our anchor)? How can art better help us see the beauty as well as the majesty of God?
  6. The author makes the point that our theology must work in our everyday life. How might this help us see if we’re learning the right things about God?

If these questions didn’t address something you think is important, please add it in your comments. If you would like to make any comments offline, please email me at mwild@ceuturytel.net.  Thank you!

Now, it’s your turn!

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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19 Responses to Sonshift Study – Chapter Four

  1. Arkenaten says:

    Do I take it that these discussion points are only for people already indoctrinated by Christianity?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Well, technically, this is for people who’ve read my book. But it’s not about “indoctrination” either. It’s about how personally encountering the Father’s (God) love impacts our view of Him. I don’t think my book will be beneficial to someone who’s not open to a deeply personal relationship with God in Christ.

      • Arkenaten says:

        How exactly is that not indoctrination, Mel?

      • Mel Wild says:

        The book does critically look at some traditional indoctrination in light of experiential knowledge (hence the “shift.”), so that people’s lives are not based on indoctrination but on a real and living relationship with God.
        So let me put it this way. This particular discussion is for those who’ve read the book and want to talk about it. It’s not a place to argue about Christianity itself.

      • Arkenaten says:

        So how does one have a ”real and living relationship” with a deity found in an ancient Jewish text that is, by all accounts , a work of fiction if one is not indoctrinated?

      • Mel Wild says:

        If you’re asking from our point of view, we relate to God through the “lens” of Jesus Christ. What I mean by that is, through His life and teachings about God. The Old Testament is not a work of fiction, as I told you before, it’s just not written with omniscient knowledge of the true nature of God. It teaches us a lot about human nature and how people experienced God through their distorted “lens.” Ironically, even if was a fable, it’s just as effective at teaching us these things.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I have never said it was a work of fiction. I repeat the Pentateuch is historical fiction – I am struggling to understand why I even have t repeat that.
        So, basically it is a series of mythical fictional stories against an ancient setting which might include a few real historical figures or places.
        Specifically, Adam and Eve are fiction so is Noah and Abraham and Jacob and Moses and Joshua.
        We know London and MI5 are very real … we have all the evidence we could possibly need to establish this,but we also know that James Bond is a work of fiction.
        Likewise, from science, we know that Noah’s Flood is fiction , and it was basically plagiarized from the Epic iof Gilgamesh (although there was a quite large local flood)….., and we know thanks to archaeology that, the Internal Settlement Pattern shows us that the Exodus and conquest as described in the bible is also, a work of fiction.

        I hope that clears up any misunderstanding on that score, Mel?

        It is a fable, (unless you can show any evidence to the contrary?) Mel and if it teaches anything this is based largely on the carrot and the stick.

        But you didn’t answer the question:

        how does one have a ”real and living relationship” with a deity, Yahweh, found in an ancient Jewish text that is, by all accounts , a work of fiction if one is not indoctrinated ?

  2. Arkenaten says:

    I posted an interesting video by Bill Maher on my blog and it seems to be garnering a fair bit of comments from former Christians.
    Why not pop over and have a chat, Mel?
    I reckon you will get on like a Maison en Flambé with Victoria (Neuronotes). And while Bruce will be just up your street, Charity might be just a tad too much for you to handle.
    What say you my good man, fancy a swim with the Barracudas?
    🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Haha…I’m in a conference right now, but I will check it out later. Btw, I think Bill Maher is funny and makes good points that Christians should hear. I just don’t agree with his conclusions.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Well, obviously not … or in the parlance of the street … no Duh! …. otherwise you would not be a god believer…

        But we love to get visits from sane religious people, even if some may regard this phrase as an oxymoron.

        You could even do a guest post if you like …. to promote your book.
        It will get slated, I guarantee, but no publicity is bad publicity right, and as George Carlin once noted, Yahweh always need money!

        Any time, Mel. …. always welcome.
        I love a good roasting like the next bloke.
        😉

  3. 1. If we don’t interpret Scripture through the lens of Christ, we are still living in an orphan state. Instead of seeing through the eyes of love, grace and forgiveness, we see through the eyes of fear, anger and punishment. We ignore those seemingly contradictory stories, or use them as a weapon to attack “sinners.”
    2. First, we have to be teachable regarding the New Covenant. If we continue to split the Father from the Son, we won’t understand what Jesus said about coming to do the will of the Father, and if we know him, we know the Father. In addition, we’ll continue to take verses out of context without seeking to learn the full value of what Christ said.
    3. So we see the primary reason is restorative instead of punitive. “The cross was not satisfying the wrath of an angry God but was a rescue mission from a loving God.”
    4. When we see the relational desire of God, we then relate to Him differently. We become His child, bride, friend instead of a sinner trying to avoid punishment. I think this makes us more solid in our faith. There is no more need to searching for Scripture to defend doctrine or “thinking agendas.” God resides in our heart, so I describe my relationship and how I have been transformed by it.
    5. Let me give an example. When I am in a long-term relationship with someone, I can ascertain evidence of that person’s love; I can also sense the ways I feel when I am with that person, and how I am different because of that person’s love for me. It is a visceral response, such as the response we have upon seeing great art.
    6. That is a huge “if.” If we have been open to being teachable, we can look at our family life, our work life, our student life, our spiritual life and measure it with the words of Jesus – Do we love God and love our neighbor? Do we love each other and love our enemy? Do our thoughts and actions come from the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

    Lots to think about here, Mel!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Wow! Again, Susan, thanks for so thoroughly answering these questions. You get two gold stars. 🙂 You have answered these question brilliantly. Thanks!

  4. AfroScot says:

    1. To be honest, I still see and have always seen the God of the Old Testament as merciful and loving. Israel rebelled against God so many times and anytime they cried out to Him, He always listened. God sent his prophets to warn the people of their sins and the prophets had to go naked, marry a promiscuous woman etc just for them to convey His message. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, was responsible for the death of an innocent man. Even though his child from that union died, Solomon, also a child with Bathsheba, became King later. I know of a culture that think Christianity weakened them as a people. Their fetish gods gave instant judgement unlike the merciful God who is always wooing us back to Himself.
    2. If He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t have sent Jesus. As a popular theologian said, the devil is God’s devil and never operates outside the Lord’s decree. This is really a skewed view of God as he is a good, good Father.
    3. This is important so that we may understand the love of the Father.
    4. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Knowing Him is different from being born in a Christian home or culture, attending church regularly although it’s also possible to know him this way. We need the Holy Spirit’s help to explain to someone else what they haven’t experienced.
    5. For me personally, I know the great transformation in my life from knowing God. He is not just someone I have read or been told about. I have a heart to heart experience with Him and not head knowledge. I once saw an art work of the garden of Eden. It really expressed the beauty and majesty of God.
    6. As we go through life, let’s have the same love that God has for us by being loving to one another, forgiving those that have hurt us and paying back good for evil. It is God’s desire that everyone comes to the knowledge of Him and let’s not give up on anyone no matter how far gone we may think they have.

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks AfroScot, for your thoughtful answers. I loved all your answers. I will comment on #1. I think you’re expressing what it looks like to read the Old Testament (OT) through the “lens” of Jesus Christ. Like you said, throughout the OT, God told them to care for the marginalized and afflicted, to live humbly and show mercy, to love others as He loves them. David had great insight into the primacy of love in relationship, which is why he was “a man after God’s own heart.”
      Thanks again! Blessings.

  5. bullroarin says:

    1. Creating a divide between the Father & Son was never a notion in the early church as it now appears in the modern church. As a matter of fact it was considered a heresy and something that true followers of the faith should disassociate with altogether.
    In Luke 11, Jesus stated that a kingdom divided against itself would surely fall. Although Jesus was being accused of being satan, because he could cast out demons, his statement is really a clear declaration of a central rule of the kingdom of God…simply, a kingdom divided cannot stand. Therefore it makes perfect sense that if the enemy can divide the very nature of God within the trinity, then he has a wedge in which to divide and call into question the nature & character of God. The erroneous assumption is that the Father was too Holy to look upon the sin of man and that sin needs to be punished. In reality sin produces its own wrath and the rescue mission was not to appease the wrath of the Father but to save man from the curse of his own unrighteousness. The Father has never hidden His face from Jesus (or us for that matter) because of sin. (Ps. 23:24)
    Of course if one believes that God is only concerned about the sin issue and the punishment thereof, then our focus turns from relationship to performance…and we spend the rest of our lives trying to measure up to some level of holiness. Sadly, we miss relationship with the Father so that he won’t punish us not realizing that the Father is not interested in our sacrifices, but our heart.

    Sorry Mel, I’m crazy busy right now so I’ll just give a few thoughts on number 1.

    ~ Dave

    • Mel Wild says:

      Wow, Dave, that is a great answer! I don’t expect everyone to have the time to answer them all, so no problem! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give your thoughts. Blessings.

  6. dawnlizjones says:

    1. This part of the book of exceptionally enlightening to me! Thank you so much! I need to go back and do a little outlining for my own memory work, but will spare the space here.
    2. The sense of abandonment/rejection is a deeply rooted fear in humankind. Trust is the basis of intimacy (even secular psychology recognizes this important factor.) One cannot trust someone who may abandon them.
    3. Again, this was an amazingly new insight to me, which adds to the “from the foundations of the world” mystery of our creation! He had to be “in” us (ie, flesh) so that we could be “in” Him. We had to be redeem-able for that to happen.
    4. Author John Eldredge (Waking the Dead) has said to know that we are loved, and can never be un-loved, what would that do to us? This causes me to view everything through a filter of God’s unbreakable bond of, not only provision, but affection. I can’t make a mistake that will cause Him to walk away. (I wrestled so long with the fear of “blaspheming the Holy Spirit”. Should we even go there?)
    5. As in the old adage, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”, seems to apply here. Since art tends to be more the heart, I can appreciate that expression.
    6. Because life is foremost about relationships, whether we want to admit it or not. We interact with each other, even within our own selves. Conflicts within and without, et. al. My primary relationship, with my Creator Father, must be correct first. (Tangent: I realized some time ago that the best thing I could do for my children is to personally draw close to God myself first.)

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