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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Wrong Metaphor

In a post yesterday by Albert Mohler, Mohler responds to McLaren's criticisms of Mohler that Mohler had made of Bell.

Mohler quotes McLaren:

If a human father decided to throw his child in a fireplace for just ten seconds as punishment for disobedience, we wouldn’t fault the father simply for being unsentimental: we would say such behavior was unholy, an act of torture in violation of our most fundamental sense of justice. Any definition of justice and holiness that involves being unsatisfied unless the imperfect are suffering eternal agony seems to many of us as unworthy of a human being and if so, how much more unworthy of God whose justice must be better than our own.

And this is so true. But this is the wrong way to look the situation between God and humanity. We are not God's children by creation, we are rebelling citizens. And kings (and presidents) deal harshly with rebelling citizens. It is their right (and responsibility) to do so. Jesus related several parables where God as the king punishes his enemies severely and tells others that there will be great punishment for those who rebel against God. These include Matthew 8:5-13, 13:40-42, 21:33-44, 22:1-14.

Now, I realize that these passage don't settle whether hell will eventually be emptied, but they do speak to a God who is justified in punishing those who rebel against him and who sin against him. These passages speak to a Jesus who believes and teaches exactly those same things.

In RC Sproul's book, The Prayer of the Lord, he discusses the idea of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.

I think Harnack was wrong in his analysis of the essence of Christianity. I don't think these two propositions are at the core of the Christian faith. In fact, I don't think they're even a part of the Christian faith. I think these propositions are actually antithetical to the Christian faith. (22)
I think that RC is exactly correct, and that McLaren has bought into Harnack's error. The fatherhood of God is for those who are believers in Jesus Christ, and no others. That God has a creatorial love for his creation is true, but that does not mean that he loves all humanity in the same way. Challenge: is RC correct? Is there anywhere in the Bible that refers to God as the father of all humanity?

So, as we discuss the relationship between God and humanity we must be careful to use the correct metaphor for the correct relationship. For believers in Jesus Christ, he is Father. For all humanity, he is the king and creator to whom all owe allegiance and obedience. Those who will not give obedience and allegiance will be treated at some point as the rebels that they are.

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