Tag Archives: theology

Does God Change With Time?

I think you could actually break this down into two questions:

1. Does God change with time?

No, the Bible seems to say that God is eternal and unchanging. In Malachi 3:6, God says, “I am the Lord, and I do not change.” (NLT). Abraham and Moses both refer to God as the “eternal” god (Gen. 21:33, Deut. 33: 27), and Paul certainly picks up that theme in Romans 1:20 where he refers to God’s “eternal power.”

However, I think a good second question would be:

2. Does our relationship with God change over time?

In this case, emphatically yes! Paul says in Gal. 3: 24-25, “The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.” (NLT)

 A pretty scandalous statement for a Pharisee and expert in the Law of Moses to make!

Paul seems to suggest that the Torah or Law in the Old Testament (with all of its guidelines about what to eat, what to wear, how to relate with people, etc.) was given to the Jewish people (and incidentally to the world) for a time as a way to show us what is right and wrong; as a way to show us what God wants us to do.

But now Paul seems to say that we have changed. We have grown up, so to speak. For a time, the law was given to us to act like a guardian or a babysitter; telling us when to go to sleep, don’t eat too much candy, etc. But now, because we can place our faith in Christ, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

Paul seems to suggest that in Christ, we mature in our faith, and living out love as Jesus teaches will actually fulfill all of the requirements of the law. (Matt. 22: 34-40)

Love will now allow us to maturely live out the principles that were given to us in the law.

When we are 5 years old, we need to be told when to go to bed. We need to be told don’t eat too much chocolate or we’ll be sick. We need that sort of guidance at that age. However, try telling a 20-year old when to go to bed!

Hopefully by 20 years of age, we’ve learned why it’s healthy to get a lot of sleep, and we don’t need to be told when to go to bed.  In fact, if we try to live by the same rules at the age of 20 as we did when we were 5, it will actually be harmful to us and to others!

Now, if you are the parent of a child such as this, and you change how you relate to your child, does that mean you have necessarily changed? Certainly not! But your relationship with your child has changed because time has passed and they have grown.

This is what the Bible seems to suggest has happened in our own spirituality.

In the Bible, we have an Old Testament and a New Testament. We have an old way of relating to God and a new way of relating to God. We have an old way of living by religious rules and regulations, and a new way of living by the principle of love that Christ teaches.

But the eternal, unchanging God is the same parent behind both ways of relating.

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Dangerous Religious Thought Pt. 2

So, you might recall that last week, I responded to Gretta Vosper’s statement of “our use of theological language that posits a moral authority is a very dangerous tool in the 21st century,” by suggesting that “You don’t have to just be religious about God to be dangerous. You can be religious about anything and be dangerous.”

You might also recall that I alluded to Part Two of my response to Rev. Vosper by quoting Jesus when he says “love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you…if you love only those who love you, what good is that?” (Matt. 5: 44-46, NLT).

When we consider the teachings of Jesus, are they dangerous? Is the moral authority of Jesus dangerous? Jesus certainly says, “anyone who obeys my teaching will never die” (John 8: 51, NLT) and “anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise” (Matt. 7:24, NLT). So he certainly seems to posit himself as a moral authority in the lives of people who listen to him.

But what do you think of his teaching?

In the quote from Jesus that I included in last week’s post, Jesus doesn’t seem to demand the destruction and murder of those people who oppose him. Instead, he tells his followers to love them, and pray for them. Is that a dangerous religious thought?

Jesus says in Luke 6: 20-21 that God blesses those people who are poor, hungry, and in mourning. Not people who are rich, greedy, and boastful. Is that a dangerous religious thought?

In the fourth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus breaks down both gender and cultural barriers by not only talking to a Samaritan woman (something a good Jewish boy was not supposed to do), but also giving her dignity by saying she has access to God. Is that a dangerous religious thought?

Don’t get me wrong. I think there have been many dangerous Christians throughout history who have been capable of great and terrible things; but therein lies the exact problem. It is “Christians” who have been dangerous, not “Christ.”

We must never confuse Jesus with the circle of people who are around Jesus and following him. We follow Jesus, not the circle of people around him. We follow Christ, not Christians.

And I would argue that Jesus is not a dangerous moral authority but rather an incredible model of love and peacemaking.

Don’t believe me? Don’t go solely on my opinion. Check out the gospels for yourself. See what you think of Jesus. Decide for yourself. Is the moral authority of Jesus dangerous, or is it actually quite intriguing?

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