i think God must not be what I think

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"One of my young married students has suffered all her life because she was taught in her Church that she was born so sinful that the only way the wrath of God the Father could be appeased enough for him to forgive all her horrible sinfulness was for God the Son to die in agony on the cross. Without his suffering, the Father would remain angry forever with all his Creation.

"Many of us have had at least part of that horror thrust on us at one time or another in our childhood. For many reasons I never went to Sunday School, so I was spared having a lot of peculiar teaching to unlearn. It's only lately that I've discovered that it was no less a person than St. Anselm who saw the atonement in terms of appeasement of an angry God, from which follows immediately the heresy that Jesus came to save us from God the Father."

- Madeline L'Engle, The Irrational Season, p. 88 (emphasis mine)
Two paragraphs before sleep last night (what little I got with Piper up and down all night - the kid NEEDS to sleep once in a while, right???), two paragraphs to open my eyes to something I've believed for so long I accepted it as truth. As I read the first paragraph, I did not understand why the student had "suffered all her life" because she was taught just what I was taught, what I have believed is true, what I have tried to live.

As I read the last line of the second paragraph, however, a thousand "I love you's" flooded my memory, the incredible, intentional, confusing pursuit of my heart by a God I have believed could care less about me because I thought He just wanted me and my sin out of His holy sight, so He had to cover me up with something He could look at. Wow, that's insidious, written out like that... And it has seeped into absolutely every area of my life.

For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son. Somehow, I miss this every time.

Wow. If I want anything at all this year, I want to know what it is to receive His love, to rejoice in His love for me, because that's why He sent Jesus to die, so that I could know His love, so that all my fear could be cast aside.

"Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:17-19)



||| laura frantz ||| said...

I mean,
Thanks for writing this.

Heidi said...


If you're interested this is the thrust of Wayne's "Transitions" series on the Lifestream.org website as well as his book "He Loves Me".

Love to see what God is doing in your heart!!

Reason said...

Just be careful that you don’t make a distinction where none needs to be. Christ came to demonstrate God’s love, and He demonstrated that love by taking our punishment upon Himself. But this was more than a mere demonstration of love, it was an act of love that also saved us from something…the consequences of our sin (i.e. God’s righteous judgment).

L'Engle’s “heresy” is more accurately attributed to St. Paul and the author of Hebrews, rather than to St. Anselm: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:9; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:9). This theme is also woven throughout the entire book of Hebrews, and Christ himself had a few things to say about God’s judgment.

However, that has been taken care of. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:31-39

Kelly Sauer said...

Reason, I appreciate the clarification. In my defense, there was further context to the L'Engle quote that I was simply too tired to expound.

Let me just clarify a little on your comment that the consequences/wages of sin is death, spiritual death, not just physical death, and that Jesus Christ came to save His people from sin itself - sin that necessitated God's wrath.

So we are saved from WRATH, not from GOD. This is what I was saying this morning. I have been living in fear of wrath and equating it with God Himself, not wanting God because I believe that is all He is, not recognizing that He is love.

Thank you for including that passage. I needed to see that just now.

Charity said...

This brought tears to my eyes - thank you for sharing. I had never really thought about it that way, but I can see that there is definitely a part of this kind of thinking in my life.

dancebythelight said...

Good distinction, Kelly.

I actually heard a really good message by Al Mohler that tied into that subject called Why Do They Hate It So: The Doctrine of Substitution and he brought this very issue up. That it wasn't like God was this nasty angry God and Jesus had to come in and take our blame to pacify him. But that God and Christ are acting together to and God the Father sends Christ, the Son, so save us from the sin problem of humanity. It was really interesting talk.

dancebythelight said...

Sorry for the typos above. I'm trying to keep the boys from destroying things as I type.

Christy said...

I thought about this post several times after reading it. The distinctions above are good for context. That being said, I loved reading this post and found it to be a very necessary, though often lacking, balance to the way that Christians often understand sin and substitution.

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