Sorting Things Out In A Broken World

Wayne and Brad discuss the demise of Osama Bin Laden in a US raid in Pakistan last weekend and its aftermath on the implications it raises for social justice and vengeance. Were the celebrations in the US helpful in resolving this conflict or do this risk perpetuating the cycle of tit-for-tat violence that infects our world? They talk about the nature of evil and how society deals with it, and the difference between vengeance and justice. Also, a check in the mailbag contains an incredible letter from an inmate learning to live loved, follow-up comments on our discussions about hell, and a questions about the place of Scripture in our lives.

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  1. Just listening and noticed that Wayne’s mike keeps fading out. I think it did the same last week.

  2. Hi Wayne,

    More interesting comments about Scripture. Thank you for including them. I might disagree slightly that the only reason the Bible gets interpreted the way it does is because of the different “lens” that we use to read it. Certainly, if we’re just looking to disprove the Bible then we’re closing our mind to the possibility of it being true and we’ll never see that possibility in it, but at the same I think there are definitely some difficult texts to understand in there, and ones that require nothing but the texts themselves, to come off as harsh or unloving and hard to believe as being given by a good God. Similarly, if we’re only looking to prove the Bible, then it’s possible to become close minded to the fact that there might be things in the Bible that are not from God, or simply aren’t true or okay, and it’s no longer about finding the truth but rather, it’s now about proving the Bible to never be wrong.

    I think you would agree that close mindedness, either way, would make it impossible to see the truth.

    I have a couple of questions that I’d really like to know what you think, but before asking, for the sake of clarity, I just want to reiterate that I believe my motive is the same as yours in seeking the truth and hopefully we can recognize that in moving forward. I believe in God and believe I am coming to know Him and He is not the God religion once told me He was. I believe God is personal and relational. I want the Bible to be true. There are parts of the Bible I love deeply. I seek to understand the Bible in what it’s true intent is. I believe God takes sin very seriously, as do I. I believe God is love and light, and sometimes light can be uncomfortable even hard to bare especially the more we want to cling to our darkness. Being set free isn’t always easy and being confronted on our own darkness can at times hurt pretty bad, though I believe none of this justifies some of what I see in the Bible. I do not seek to create a God in my own image that will make me just happy or more comfortable but at the same time I refuse to accept that God, being all knowing and all loving, would display behavior that right minded humans, who are not all knowing and all loving, would never display and in our hearts know to be wrong.

    That said, I’ll avoid the NT for the sake of this conversation and just focus on the OT since that seemed to be the topic of the podcast, what do you do with the many Scriptures in the OT that have God actually saying or telling someone to do something that is morally repulsive? Do you believe God actually said those things, and if so, how is that possibly justified in light of what Jesus said concerning violence, etc.? Or even apart from Jesus, just based on what any compassionate and caring level headed person knows in their own heart as being love, right and wrong, how is it justified?

    By the way, I’m a male. My name is Finnish, as in Finland, for Eric.


  3. I should mention also that on a human level, and from personal experience, I am familiar with tough and relentless love and I don’t buy into the concept that love only seeks to make us feel good regardless of our actions, by ignoring things that are killing us, and at the cost of our life and those around us.

    As a teenager, I was going down a very destructive path. My mother who loves me immensely made the tough decision to throw me out rather than enable my lifestyle. At the time I hated her, literally, and was terribly hurt. But she made me face my darkness. I didn’t get better right away, but I couldn’t deny it anymore. It wasn’t until I began healing and changing that I saw how difficult of a decision that was for her and the heart of love it came from. Today, we have a great relationship and I am grateful she took the stand she did. I believe it was the right thing to do and I believe she was acting in true love.

    That said, if she stoned me to death I might disagree. Or if she promised to visit my sin on my children and grandchildren, I might think that was uncalled for. Or is she consumed me with fire, I might have a hard time seeing how she really wanted to help me. And I don’t see her decapitating me if I denied her and worshiped someone else as my mother. Or sending a prophet to tell me that unless I repent she’s going to kill me. And now that we have a good relationship, I would find it very unloving if she sent one of her enemies to torment me and plague me with sickness, and kill my family, just to see if I would deny her. I could go on and on but I think you get my point.

  4. I really like the comment by the guy who wrote the “…born with a Bible stapled to your head” line because it was toned down from what he really wanted to say. I also think that he is the same dude with the inverse universalism theory (i.e. everyone is going to hell but me).

    But my purpose here is to reiterate that I never meant to imply that “the Bible is totally useless”. For those who find it helpful/encouraging and can read it mainly in a positive light – that is a very good place to be so enjoy it. I only wanted to convey to those who have a lot of difficulty with it, they should not feel bad about putting it on the shelf because their relationship via the Holy Spirit is far more important than trying to reconcile difficult texts. For the OT, I think that for some of those difficult passages, you actually had to be there to really understand what was going on, and we only have a record of what another human perceived took place. To me Erkki’s heart is one that reflects love which to me takes precedence over how you view a document that without question has a reasonable number of difficult sections. It would be nice if someone could unambiguously clarify those sections but I don’t think that it is possible for us in this life. That is why I think that it has less value than the sola sriptura role given by the Reformers

    I also wanted to add that for me, reading the Bible is not very straightforward and one resource that I benefited from was “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart (both are conservative scholars).

  5. Taking a moment to interject my internet “voice” here : ) Followed with interest the conversation between Erriki and Jim (I’m much more comfortable with face to face, over cup of coffee conversation) so this is a little outside the comfort zone for me. It’s wonderful to have discussions with people who are asking tough questions, also to to see the responses clarifies some things for me also. I appreciate that a forum like this can open up conversations with people who might otherwise never have a chance to interact. Like many others…I struggle with lonliness at times where it’s so difficult to find “live” people around me to have these discussions with. It’s been about 16 months for me so I understand the need for patience and that God will not wave a wand and insntantly these things get settled. Anyway I appreciate the forum, and what I am learning even when at moments the pain is very real.

  6. It was so wonderful to hear about the letter from the inmate who changed his perspective. My husband and I go to a local women’s prison every week. The women there have experienced the consequences of living as a ‘taker’ instead of a ‘giver’. It is a wonder to watch a woman find out that there is another way to live. We have had the privilege of not only seeing it happen inside the prison but have seen it continue once they are released back into the community.

  7. @Sue: Happy to hear your comments anytime. A lot of us that do not attend an IC anymore are also in the same boat in that we don’t have anyone nearby to go out for coffee with and talk stuff out face to face.

    I think that there are two things that are great about this site (1) the God Journey podcasts and nearly equally (2) the God Journey comment section. To me, the way Wayne and Brad run this blog provides a great service for sisters/brothers everywhere to minister to each other by sharing their experiences, thoughts and wisdom. I have benefited from many of the comments, even the ones that I don’t agree with, because these conversations are from brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a freedom that legalism doesn’t offer (legalism can be more focused on pay and obey). I feel that this site models the relational aspect of the Trinity.

  8. Sue, I too appreciate and welcome your comments, and can resonate with desiring face to face conversation. I think that all the time, “If only I could meet some of these people around where I live.” Thankfully, places like this are good reminders that we’re not alone.

    Jim, thanks for putting simply in your first comment what I’ve been trying to say with a million words.

    For the Scripture conversation, here is someone else’s take that I just stumbled across concerning how they reconcile the OT with the NT. I thought it was excellent and added a new perspective to consider.

  9. Sorry to hear there is a technical glitch with the podcast, both in loading it and with my microphone. Technology is great when it works, and incredibly frustrating when it doesn’t. Unfortunately the problem with my microphone was in the taping, so we cannot fix it. It will just have to stand as is…. Sorry to all who find that frustrating.

  10. Since the God Journey podcast has discussed Prophecy and Hell quite a bit over these past few weeks, I just wanted to let everyone know that the Rapture & Judgement will begin on May 21, 2011 and God plans to destroy the world on October 21. See: – (Family Radio/Harold Camping/Latter Rain).

    I will have to miss the Rapture/Judgement Day because I have a wedding to go to on May 21.

  11. Wayne, do you know what happened to my comment that was “awaiting moderation”?

    After my first comment I thought of something else and immediately posted another comment, but it said that it was “awaiting moderation”, which I thought was odd because that hasn’t happened with any of my other comments, but I could still at least see it myself.

    However, now it’s just gone. It doesn’t even show up for me. Did you disapprove of something in it or did it never go through?

  12. Erkki: Thanks for the link to the Gospel of Peace & Grace website. I also noticed that they posted a comment on Anger or Agape (re the cross) by Steve McVey and some Baxter Kruger books. Baxter Kruger’s book “The Great Dance” really emphasizes how much God loves people and what the cross was really about – and is a great read if you don’t feel that God loves you..

  13. Erkki, I did find one in the moderation queue. I’m not sure why it was there either. It usually only queues people’s first comment from a specific email address. That’s actually to protect against spammers. After that they are supposed to go through. I can assure you I have not put you or anyone else on moderation status. I’m sorry for the problem here, but I think we’re good now…

  14. Jim – Thanks for the recommendations. I love Baxter Kruger. He’s one of those guys that explains deep theology in an intimate and personal way that truly feeds the heart. I actually just received an email from his ministry stating that him and William P. Young, author of the shack, are trying to find a publisher to publish a book that Baxter’s just written, going through the Biblical theology that’s in the shack, apparently in an effort to help people see what they see in the Shack in the Bible too. Knowing Baxter’s other work, that sounds like it’d probably be a great read.

  15. @Jim and Terri-Thanks for the welcome. I’m learning from the website, the conversations b/t Brad and Wayne and also the comments and discussions with others on the forum. I am sometimes laughing and sometimes crying. I appreciate that Wayne and Brad have mentioned loving people in front of us…that God will bring people into our lives. Since there is no principle or formula that will make it “all perfect” it seems that this relationship with Him and then with others is walked out one step and one day at a time.

  16. I’ve heard it said several times ‘Hell is not even on my radar’ and I get that… when the overwhelming reality you’re living out of is love and acceptance of God, the threat and risk of separation, punishment and rejection just does not feature. But the problem is that Hell is on the radar for many people especially those who are struggling to accept christianity. What of those who are perishing, surely its not enough that I simply feel ok about where I’m going and who I know (God). Now I’m not saying questions of hell/separation should be primary, but I think its good to be very mindful of the implications of what we communicate. Otherwise it can come across callous and detached. Its heartbreaking the majority of people i love will die not knowing christ. Christ is life, separation from him is immense suffering and torment sooner or later.
    Lastly the discussion on OBL was interesting. I think you guys missed the reality that this was not a surgical removal of an evil man… we’ve had years of war and occupation leading upto this point and much suffering in the name of war on terror. All lives are valuable whether they are victims of terrorist attack or collatoral damage during missle strikes. The worst sin is often the one we think we are least likely to commit.

  17. Just an idea re: moderation or comments. I’ve noticed on other blogs there is a setting in which all posts which contain a URL–hyperlink automatically go into a moderation queue. perhaps that is what happened to Erkki’s post.

  18. @John regarding “those that are perishing”, I think that religion pushes the line “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb 9:27) in their theology. It comes across as “you’ve p!ssed your life away and now the game is over.” But do we know for sure that there is no overtime? (I’m not quite dead yet so I don’t know the real answer.)

    Also, what does judgement mean – condemnation, or is the one who is your judge also your defence lawyer? I’m with you that we need to somehow negate the notions many hold regarding the threat and risk of separation, punishment and rejection (i.e. hell as currently perceived by many) that religion has so vividly portrayed. After all who wears the pants in our family – misquoted and misunderstood Bible verses or relationship (Holy Spirit)? I totally agree with you that it also has to be done in a non-detached way.

    Right now the only way to get this message across in a non-detached non-callous way seems to be through loving those around you. Also, I favour the overtime period approach. That way I don’t have to be concerned that it is in my job description to convince those around me before they breathe their last. Further thoughts anyone?

  19. Jim, I agree with your question, “What does judgement mean?”. I’ve been pondering this myself lately. We’ve been fed this notion that judgement is God’s punitive judgement on us. But what if judgement is simply that we come face to face with the light, can no longer deny He exists or His nature, and now see that all of of our darkness isn’t what we’ve thought it was. In other words, our darkness is judged by being exposed for what it is. Some of us receive this judgement here and now but perhaps all of us will receive it then. For those who agree with the light and desire God then this will be great news, but for those who don’t, it might not be so great.

    Jesus referenced a few times that our words will judge us, He doesn’t condemn, and that those who don’t believe are condemned already. Those words seem to make sense in this scenario. And as far Hell goes, I don’t know what I think about Hell yet, but if we really loved our darkness, then seeing it for what it is, and seeing the truth in a way that is no longer deniable, and realizing we’ve been wrong, this might seem like Hell. Especially if we didn’t want to embrace the light that now was all there is. We might end up hating it.

    Just some of my thoughts. I’m still processing. I’d love to hear what others think.

  20. I like the following quotes from Spiderman 3, especially the last words from Aunt May:
    Peter Parker: Flint Marko. The man who killed Uncle Ben, he was killed last night.
    Aunt May: Oh, my. What happened?
    Peter Parker: Spider-Man killed him.
    Aunt May: Spider-Man? I don’t understand, Spider-Man doesn’t kill people. What happened?
    Peter Parker: I, uh… He… he was… I thought that – That you’d feel… He deserved it, didn’t he?
    Aunt May: I don’t think it’s for us to say whether a person deserves to live or die.
    Peter Parker: But, Aunt May, he killed Uncle Ben.
    Aunt May: Uncle Ben meant the world to us. But he wouldn’t want us living one second with revenge in our hearts. It’s like a poison. It can – It can take you over. Before you know it, turn us into something ugly.

  21. I wrote a short little snippet on my blog as I was pondering how Jesus would respond to the Bin Ladin hoopla. I don’t claim to know anything, just pondering… My blog is I also read a very interesting post from Greg Boyd’s blog on the subject. He wrote “Myth of a Christian Nation”. Very eye opening book. His blog is
    Wayne and Brad, I run with you guys every week while listening to your podcast. I know my neighbors think I’m crazy. I think most people run to music… I run and sometimes have to stop because I’m doubled over laughing.

  22. Here is, in my opinion, a beautiful illustration of the Gospel, Hell, judgement, and the love of God, that differs greatly than what we’ve seen or experienced coming out of mainstream Protestantism. The person in the video is an Eastern Orthodox priest, and while that church is a bit too religious for me, at least at the moment, I think this video is beautiful.

    Funny enough, it’s entitled: “Love Wins”.

    It’s good to know that there are other Christians out there, and have been for years, that have viewed the Gospel, the Cross, and the Bible differently. I always assumed that what I learned in church was all there was.

  23. This is an excellent conversation. I don’t have much to add. Though, I must say how I am struck by how nuanced one’s understanding must be—in both God and everyday life. Every year that passes, I look back and think “how could I have ever been so shallow in my understanding of_____?”

    The conclusion I draw from this, is that God must very often protect us from the major consequences of our ignorance. If I use myself as the case study, and look at the logical outcome of my past lack of understanding, I really shouldn’t have any friends or a job. Also, I must conclude that I am even now being protected in a similar manner. Who knows what kind of fool I really am? Fortunately I have a God who not only protects me from real danger, but often makes me look good when I don’t deserve it.


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