Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dwelling in the Father's love

Brandon and Dwell, I have finally had time to sit down and read your discussion. I am thrilled for both of you. Brandon, your 3-D illustration is a gem, as is your point about the chair, and I love your heart. Dwell, you are obviously a careful and sensitive thinker, and know your way around the larger gospel discussion. So my hat is off to both of you. It seems to me that what you are wrestling with is the reality of relationship, not simply a position, or a title, or a fact, but a relationship. I hope all without exception come to know Abba and experience his love in Jesus to the uttermost. Like George MacDonald and Thomas Erskine, two of my heroes, it makes no sense to think that the Father’s love will not win every heart. Unlike those two giants, I cannot make a doctrine out of our hope. To be a universalist (doctrinally speaking) would be, for me, to deny the reality of our distinction within Christ’s relationship with us, and that would be to deny the authenticity of our personhood, which is one of my beefs with the Calvinists.

In the last 2 chapters of my book, The Great Dance, I do the best that I can to sort through Christ’s union with us and our real distinction. Come to think of it, towards the end of most of what I write I come around to this issue, except in Across All Worlds—the whole book is about Christ relating to us in our darkness.

Dwell, you said, “But with the official Perichoresis message it seems to me that although it is better on the surface - ie We are all justified, and sit at the right hand of the Father in Jesus etc.....The bottom line is that WE still have the burden of deciding our destiny.”

The statement, “the burden of deciding our destiny” strikes me as odd in the context of the stunning news that we have been included in Jesus’ own relationship with his Father and the Holy Spirit. I cannot imagine hearing my wife say “I love you” and hearing that as a burden. “I love you” is a declaration that I am a real person and I am in a relationship where I am called to love and to be loved. It is an invitation to love and relationship. The gospel declares to us that we are included in the love of the Father, Son and Spirit, and as such calls us be loved, to let the Father love us, as my friend Bruce Wauchope so beautifully puts it. What is burdensome about letting the Father love us? Jesus declares the Father’s love to us and summons us to believe in his Father’s love. The object of faith is the fact of the Father’s love and acceptance, which means that we are real persons to the Father, that we are in a relationship with him, and are called to respond.

In the story of the prodigal and his brother, the Father’s love for both boys was endless, and because of his endless love, they were both called to respond.

Several points need to be isolated here. (1) The Father loves us. What we do or do not do cannot change, validate or nullify his love. We are loved—forever. (2) If we doubt, and we all do, we are to look to Jesus whose very existence reveals the Father’s endless love to us. The object of faith, and the ground of assurance, is the reality of the Father’s love and acceptance in Jesus—the fact that we are included. (3) The Father’s love calls us to let him love us. To deny the need to respond to the Father is to reduce us to non-persons and to pretend that this is not a relationship.


The gospel is the stunning declaration that we are included in the relationship that Jesus has with his Father and the Holy Spirit, and as such it is a declaration that rocks our illusions and doubts, and summons us to let the Father love us, as Bruce says, or to learn to live loved, as Paul Young says. Or perhaps we should say that the gospel summons us to dwell in the Father’s love.

Bless you all

For more of my thoughts on the way of trinitarian love, see my essay, “Bearing our Scorn: Jesus and the Way of Trinitarian Love.”

5 comments:

H said...

I was "saved" in a Baptist church. I was convinced of the sovereignty of God in a Presbyterian church (each answered questions the other left unanswered or ignored). But over the last several years, thanks to the ministry of Dr. Kruger and Perichoresis, I have been thrilled to begin to understand the implications of my adoption and inclusion.
Thank you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, please continue to bless this ministry!

Richard said...

"(2) If we doubt, and we all do, we are to look to Jesus whose very existence reveals the Father’s endless love to us. The object of faith, and the ground of assurance, is the reality of the Father’s love and acceptance in Jesus—the fact that we are included."

This statement is so insightful and touches on a key challenge for us. You see, it is my observation that many Christians don't really trust Jesus to get this job done. Instead, many Christians have been brought to the point where they accept doing various laws and rules as the way to get the job done.

The result of all of this is that Christians often end up accepting Jesus only in an Old Covenant sacrificial sense, but they seldom trust Him to really live unfettered in them in a New Covenant sense. As such, the idea is still strong that, if we don't have laws and rules, then anything goes, which is a charge Paul had to answer.

However, it stikes me that Jesus, as God, must be allowed to live freely, uniquely,and spontaneously in us. In so doing, the love of the Father for us is revealed, and we find our way with Jesus through this often messy life.

The best to you always!

J. Richard Parker

bill winn said...

The security of knowing that I am "agapetos" (Beloved of the Father) Creates space in Jesus' world for me to live, laugh, dream, cry, play, fish, golf, make love, cook, dance, and participate in the ministry of the Blessed Trinity without any weight on my shoulder concerning my acceptance and inclusion into the Divine Circle of the Father, Son, and Spirit. My distinction is truly mine and is precious to the Trinity because without it there is no real chance for relationship, but my distinction and will are held in the greater context of the Father's will to have me and love me. To quote John Madden, "BOOM!" That IS good news and yes 'h' we do ask the Father, Son, and Spirit to bless Perichoresis, Inc. and we also know that God the Trinity does nothing in isolation- rather He lets us participate in what he is doing. So let's all go to the main website and make a donation.

Brandon Vaughn said...

Sometimes I wonder about whether God intentionally gave us mothers and fathers because we needed both to at least start moving toward a proper understanding of God. And if so, what effect does an absent/distant father, or an abusive father, take on man's theology of God? I've heard this before; it is nothing new. But I've wondered yet again.

What was Augustine's father like? What was Calvin's father like?

I know enough about two of the leaders in my church who are heavily Calvinistic (to the point of the elect rejoicing in the damnation of the non-elect). The main pastor had a distant father. Another main teacher in the church recently told a story of how his dad punished him with a baseball bat.

Is it any wonder, then, that they would grow up and embrace a theology that says God is more interested in His own glory than He is His creation? Or a theology that says God hates the non-elect so much that He wants all the elect to join in the grand party at the end to see them burn?

If "double predestination" doesn't give us a "schizophrenic" God, it certainly seems to give us a "God" who loves discrimination.

(There is certainly an appeal in extreme Calvinism that appeals to people who love logic or are analytical, but I'll save discussion of that.)

Blessings,
Brandon

Anonymous said...

The question i have is jesus incarnation make him in union with all humanity when he goes to calvary?