Why we still need reformation

We need to stop starting God’s story with the fall. God’s story starts with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1), which is about God in relationship.

We need to stop making God’s redemptive purpose about forgiveness; God’s eternal purpose has always been about adoption.

God is a Father and He’s always wanted sons and daughters. Forgiveness of sin was only the means to accomplish this goal.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Eph.1:4-5 NIV)

We need to stop describing God, first and foremost, as sovereign. God, first and foremost, is love (1 John 4:8). Love is not an attribute of God; it’s His very essence—who He is at the core of His being, apart from His creation. And Love is other-centered and self-giving, which is why He creates. It’s only in this context that we can talk about the nature of His sovereignty or any other attribute of God.

We need to stop inserting Stoic and Gnostic determinism into our ideas about God’s sovereignty (that He micromanages everything, controlling every detail of our life). This form of “Theological Fatalism” is not only not found in Scripture, it’s unjust, logically incoherent, the very opposite of any meaningful sense of freedom, and untenable with the nature of love. It makes God the author of evil and negates our response-ability as free moral agents. (I’ll let Dr. Leighton Flowers explain further in this video.)

We need to stop saying that human beings are totally depraved when, according to the Bible (and every church father before Augustine), human beings are made in the image of God (Gen.1:26), capable of doing good (Rom.2:12-15; Gal.2:15), although corrupted by the fall and in need of salvation.

We need to stop obsessing on the blood and violence of the crucifixion, describing it like some Tarantino torture-porn flick. It’s not about the extent of violence done to Christ but about the extent of His love for us and His desire to save us from ourselves (John 3:16-17).

We need to stop our blame-shifting, turning God the Father into a cosmic child-abuser.  We evangelicals have gotten the crucifixion backwards for too long. It wasn’t God who killed Jesus; we did, which exposed our religious scapegoating and corrupted nature. God took our “tragic flaw” to the grave so that we could be healed and restored back to Him (see “Why we needed fixing.”)

We need to stop saying that God cannot look at our sin so He had to abandon Jesus on the cross. Nothing could be further from the truth! Not only did Jesus—God the Son—countenance sin during His ministry, the Father was IN Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor.5:19). Furthermore, Jesus, speaking of His crucifixion, declared that even though His own followers would abandon Him, His Father would never abandon Him (see John 8:28-29;16:32).

We need to stop saying our sin separates God from humankind when it’s the other way around. Adam and Eve were the ones hiding in the bushes while God was seeking fellowship after they sinned. It’s our orphan-hearted guilt and shame that keeps us separated, preferring darkness to the light that would free us (John 3:18-21).

Again, we have it all backwards. We were alienated from God and enemies in our minds….

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (Col.1:21 NIV*)

WE were the ones who needed reconciling to God, not God to us…

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor.5:19 NIV*)

We need to stop mixing the Old Covenant with the New (“pouring new wine into old wineskins”) because they’re incompatible. Once you’ve received the latter (Christ) the former is no longer necessary (see Gal.3:24-25).

We need to stop inventing theology that produces fruit that doesn’t look like Jesus. If what we believe doesn’t lead us to become more loving, gracious, behaving and treating others, including sinners, exactly like Jesus did, it is a false theology (John 1:18; 14:7, 12, 20:21; Eph.4:15; Heb.1:1-3).

We need to stop describing God as a judge in the Western Roman jurisprudence sense, meaning, a court of law with a modern-day judge passing down punishments for infractions of rules. God, as judge in the Hebraic sense, is a deliverer; one who sets people free from oppression, bondage, and injustice.

To understand the biblical nature of God as judge, simply read the book of Judges. We don’t need to interject our Western legalistic mindset on to how Scripture describes His nature as judge.

16 But then Adonai raised up judges, who rescued them from the power of those who were plundering them. (Judges 2:16 CJB*)

We need to stop making it about “us vs. them” with our non-biblical dualistic mindset, polarizing and dividing ourselves according to doctrinal agreement, separating sinners from God, even separating heaven from earth. This separation is also only between our ears (See Luke 17:21; John 17:21-24).

We need to stop waiting for rescue from this world and start being salt and light in it just as Jesus was salt and light in it (Matt.5:13-15; John 8:12).

We need to stop abdicating our role as stewards of this earth (Gen.1:26-28) and start helping to make it a better place to live for everyone.

16 Heaven belongs to the Lord,
    but he gave the earth to people. (Psalm 115:16 ERV*)

These are just a few thoughts I had about the popular evangelical message today. These points (and others) have a profound affect on how we understand God and how people perceive the Good News that’s supposed to bring great joy. I think our theology and message still needs some work.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 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.
This entry was posted in Father Heart of God, Reformation, Sonship, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Why we still need reformation

  1. John M Cummuta says:

    Good review. Thanks, and Happy New Year.

  2. Bette Cox says:

    I wrote about a different Why several years ago… we seem to think a lot alike, Mel. It also addresses Why did he create us. https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/why-does-god-love-us/

  3. Oh wow!! I just heard the rumble of collective theological brains exploding. You, sir, are a butcher. Just about every sacred cow has been dumped in one short blog. By the way, I enjoy a good explosion 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Patrick. Welcome to my “normal.” LOL! Staying in the same place of maturity (or immaturity) is called “arrested development.” Not good! God said it, the rest is just commentary (no matter who else said it). So, it’s actually quite healthy to faithfully question our current interpretations of God’s inspired Word, putting them on the potter’s wheel, to be re-shaped and re-formed until we look, think, and act like Christ. What’s funny is, my “advancing” over the last few years has come from reading the early church fathers (before Augustine), those who changed their world quite remarkably. Now, I allow God to put new glasses on when I read His unchanging Word. Quite eye opening! And the Good News is getting more and more glorious than I ever imagined!

      Regardless, I’m glad you enjoyed the explosion. 🙂

  4. Mark Seeley says:

    You heretic! How dare you suggest that there is any other way to understand God except from what we learned from Augustine, Luther and Calvin! You my friend are speaking LIES, LIES, LIES! You twist the Bible passages to mean something other than what I was taught! 😉

    How was that? All kidding aside, I really believe that for the average Christian they aren’t even aware there are other avenues of thought or other ways to interpret the Bible. And for a large portion of the population they may not even care. Just don’t mess with my Sunday service and my safe little seat in the pew and I can rest easy and be spoon fed my salvation and then ride that train to glory! Reminds me of a song: For the people all said sit down, sit down, you’re rockin’ the boat
    People all said sit down, Sit down you’re rockin’ the boat.

    But for the rest of the population of light bearers they need to be introduced to who the light is and what is the objective and subjective nature of their salvation!

    So how do you stop…. It has to start with a history lesson. That there are 260 million Christians in the Orthodox faith in this world that never believed half the crazy stuff we western Christians believed. We have to teach that there is a more ancient understanding of scripture that predates the 1500’s and the last reformation. We need to teach people critical thinking skills. And we need to pray that the scales would fall from their eyes.

    “We need to stop making it about “us vs. them” ” Or who’s in and who’s out. Same debate rehashed from Acts 10. You would think we would get it 2000 years later.

    I could go on and on but time for me to get back to work.

    Love this Mel.

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! You know, today’s heresy is tomorrow’s orthodoxy! Luther was definitely considered a heretic in his day (Eastern Orthodox still consider him one.) Heretic also has an interesting etymology. It comes from the Greek word, hairetikos (αιρετικός) which simply means, “able to choose.”
      So, yes, I am able to choose. 🙂

      Seriously, the problem comes when we follow teachers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) instead of Christ. And, sadly, most Western Christians are taught what to think instead of how to think. They would be afraid to even risk “liking” a post that challenges what they’ve been taught to think, what popular preachers are telling them. It’s this fear that stunts real growth. We do have a vast wealth of Christian history and theology that exists outside of our little Augustinian bubble. Of course, we will also learn new things that aren’t true as we go and we need to discard those as well as our non-biblical traditions. This is why it’s critical to know how to think instead of just parroting what you’ve been taught to think by others.

      But, as Dylan prophesied in the 60s, “The times they are-a Changin'” so let the reformation continue!

      • Mark Seeley says:

        I was recently in a conversation trying to express some views that differ from traditional western Christianity and the other person sensing that I did not hold Calvanist beliefs stated that I must be Arminian. I said no to that as well. But he could not wrap his brain around the fact that there are more than just those 2 camps.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yeah, we like our dichotomies in our evangelical bubble, don’t we. You’re either a Calvinist or an Arminian! Which, of course, is a false dichotomy. While we shouldn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater with these two, there’s a vast and robust world of Christian theology and thought beyond them that we can learn from (including everyone before Augustine!)

  5. LOL! Wow, Mel! Well done. I think you may have exploded some theological heads. This is downright scandalous….like the gospel is supposed to be! You hit each point perfectly, that’s it precisely, that’s the nature of each of those misconceptions and they do dominate our current evangelical narrative. We have some work to do, indeed!

  6. Jodi Woody says:

    Well said. Shared this one with my facebook friends.

  7. Pingback: A Couple of Honorable Mentions | See, there's this thing called biology...

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