Archive for the ‘Christ’ Tag

Did God forsake Jesus?

Did God ever Forsake Jesus? Consider these words of Jesus on the Cross, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” These words translated are “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Did God the Father abandon or forsake Jesus on the Cross? Did the Eternal Father of the Eternal Son really pronounce him accursed? Is it possible that the same Father who declared, “This is my beloved Son in whom my soul delights.” really turned his back on Jesus so that he suffered alone and isolated in his hour of greatest need? Much has been written about this subject so let me throw in on the matter. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say and let our minds be conformed to the mind of Christ .

If we begin with the character and nature of God we will see a clear answer to this question.

Is it possible that the Father forsook Jesus?

Is it possible that the Father forsook Jesus?

In John 1:1 we read; “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God.” The Greek word for with in this passage indicates a face-to-face, personal, and intimate relationship. Jesus and his Father have eternally been in this intimate face-to-face relationship in the communion of the Holy Spirit. There has never been a time when the Father, Son, and Spirit have not been in intimate loving relationship. The Triune God exists as relationship and is Love. The Father, Son, and Spirit know no other way to be toward one another than to be as Love.

On the Cross Jesus is executing a rabbinic exercise where the teacher begins to quote a Psalm and the congregants there finish it. Jesus is quoting Psalm 22 which begins “My God my God why have you forsaken me?” The Psalm does not end in defeat it ends in victory. The point made by Jesus is victory not defeat or having been forsaken.

Also who is Jesus’ God? What God does Jesus worship? Well Jesus does not have a God he is God with the Father and the Spirit so just on that point alone the idea that Jesus is literally telling us that the Father has forsaken him cannot be accurate.  In I Corinthians 12:3 Paul says, “Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Let Jesus be cursed!” I would hazard a guess that God the Father speaks by the Spirit. It is not the Father who put Jesus to death on the Cross… it was us. (Heb. 12:3) Consider II Corinthians 5:19 “…that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself…” The word for in there really means in. In John 14:20 Jesus says, “In that day you will know that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you.” Jesus and the Father mutually indwell one another and the Holy Spirit is facilitating this relationship at all times.

Some argue that because Jesus took on our sin God the Father had to turn his back on him because God cannot have any part with sin. Let us never forget that Jesus is God- co-equal with the Father and the Spirit.  If God can have no fellowship with sin how did Jesus eat with sinners, become human, and finally take on all of our sin!

Also ponder this… there is a politician I know of that is on his third marriage. When he married wife number one he said, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” Then he cheated on wife number one with the woman who would become wife number two. When he married wife number two he said, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” Then he cheated on wife number two with the woman who would become wife number three. When he married wife number three he said, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” Well neither wife number two nor three have any basis on which to believe him because of what he has actually done. He has proven that he will in fact leave and forsake. So if the Eternal Father of Jesus would leave and forsake him in his hour of greatest need how can we ever believe that he will never leave nor forsake us?

Let me say with clarity and determination… God the Father most certainly did not forsake Jesus on the Cross and Jesus did not say that he did. This Father’s Day as we celebrate all that is good about our dads let us put away in our hearts, minds, and in our Faith the blasphemous notion that Jesus’ Father ever turned his back on him and let us celebrate that he will never turn his back on us!

~ Bill Winn

Proposal: An eschatology where God is more present than absent

When Jesus talks about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Matt 16, 24, 26; Mark 13; Luke 17, 21), I believe he is using well-known metaphors to warn of a socio-political catastrophe that some of his first-century hearers would live to see.  I also believe in the future event usually called “the Second Coming,” but I believe these texts (and others like them) are not talking about that.

This is not the most important doctrinal distinction in the world. The creeds, for example, don’t address it.  But I am coming to believe it is a distinction that matters and is worth talking about.  More on that in a bit.  But first I want to give some background…

First, T.F. Torrance points out a problem in how we talk about the Coming of Christ:

It is important to recall that the apostolic witness to Christ did not speak of his advent (parousia)…in the plural, for strictly speaking there is only one saving parousia of the Son… The term parousia was used in the New Testament to speak of all three: the coming, arrival, and presence of Christ… His presence is an advent and his advent is a presence. “The hour comes and now is,” as Jesus once said [John 4:23]. The plural word, “advents” or parousiai, was not found in Christian literature for more than a century after the ascension of Christ… In one revealing statement, however, Justin Martyr spoke of what takes place in the midst of Christ’s parousia. In other words, here and now in the on-going life of the Church we live in the midst of the advent-presence of Christ, already partake of the great regeneration of the future, and share in its blessings with one another (Thomas F. Torrance, The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. Edinburgh: 1988. pp. 299,300).

Our deistic culture believes in few things so profoundly as it believes in the absence of God.  We Christians seem to believe that he was present once and will someday be present again, but for now we mostly go along with the broader culture in saying that God is certainly not here now.  Except for being “present in the Spirit,” which we mostly use as a euphemism for “not really present.”

N.T. Wright explains:

When God renews the whole creation, as he has promised, bringing together heaven and earth, Jesus himself will be at the centre of it all, personally present to and with his people and ruling his world fully and finally at last… And since the ascension is often thought of in terms of Jesus ‘going away,’ this future final moment is often thought of in terms of his ‘coming back again,’ hence the shorthand ‘second coming.’  However, since the ascension in fact means that Jesus, though now invisible, is not far away but rather closely present with us, it isn’t surprising that some of the key New Testament passages speak not of his ‘return’ as though from a great distance, but of his ‘appearing’ (e.g. Colossians 3.4; 1 John 3.2)… For the early Christians, the really important event—the resurrection of Jesus—had already taken place, and his final ‘appearing’ would simply complete what had then been decisively begun (N.T. Wright, Revelation for Everyone. John Knox: 2011. pp. 224-25).

The Trinity and Humanity blog is part of a larger theological community that emphasizes the twin mysteries of Trinity & Incarnation, and the universal character of the Atonement which flows from them. This magnificent vision lives and breathes the good news of the Real Presence of the Triune God.  As such, our theological project includes re-formulating doctrines which teach or imply God’s Absence.  The popular eschatology of our day is one such doctrine that requires our attention.

Jesus and the New Testament writers have quite a lot to say about the impending destruction of Jerusalem “in this generation,” and the dark and difficult times leading up to it.  And when we take those texts and impose them upon our doctrines about the future Glorious Appearing of Christ, it has consequences.

It produces a worldview of fatalism and pessimism, because it makes us think we know what the world will look like immediately before Christ appears, and it looks awful.  When the beasts and tribulations of the first century get pasted onto our own future, it produces a vision of the world forever getting worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse until Jesus comes back and fixes it, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it in the meantime, so don’t even try making the world a better place, because we already know it won’t work.

Is this our vision of the world where the life of the Father, Son, and Spirit is earthing itself in human life in the world?  Where Christ is already present and becoming more present all the time?  Do we really want to be telling people to forget the prophetic visions of a world where swords get pounded into plowshares, where everyone has their own fig tree, where it will be considered unusual for someone’s lifespan to be less than 100 years, where water will flow in the wild places and flowers will bloom in the desert?  Do we really want to be telling people to forget all that because those are visions of a world where God is present, and we don’t live in that world, at least not yet?

The Gospel is better than that.

What do you think?  Have I gone off the deep end?

Wishing You A Christ-Centered New Year

After rehearsing the truth of the Gospel again, which is Adoption, or,

the Good News that God the Father, Son and Spirit created humanity and all of creation in order that they, and it, might share in God’s exact Love and Relational Being, in the Person of Jesus Christ,

I thought that wishing you blessedness in the New Year might be best said the way I entitled the blog post! In other words, did you notice that I didn’t use the customary “Happy” in front of the words “New Year”? That was done on purpose and more in the light of the Gospel.

Let’s face it, most people (including me!) tend to operate out of an optimistic or pessimistic paradigm based on feelings and their own subjective and distinct perceptions about life. Some of us will say “Happy New Year” because we can look at people and things in the world like Susan Boyle, a Black President of all things, and a chance that all Americans might receive basic health insurance as reasons for optimism. Some of us will hear the phrase Happy New Year, and hate it (secretly!), thinking to ourselves that with what is happening in Darfur, Iran, Afghanistan and the American economy, how could anyone possibly say, let alone hope for, a Happy New Year!

I think the Gospel gives us a better alternative than either optimism or pessimism regarding the New Year, while including both in its tremendous wake!

Because the Gospel is Jesus Himself, and what He has done to all of Humanity and Creation in His Divine/Human Body, then we can’t go the way of sin-filled pessimism regarding the state of humanity no matter how dire things seem! It is one thing to say that “as in Adam all die”, but it is a completely other thing to say “so in Christ will all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). No real question about the difference in those facts. Whatever mess Adam made (and it was a huge mess!), the Author of Creation, God the Trinity, in Jesus, has undone it (and it was a more huge undoing than Adam’s doing!!), and will continue to undo it, in full actualization! All WILL BE MADE ALIVE!

And because this fact of God in union with His creation is the truth of all truths behind real happiness, ironically, we should be very pessimistic about any other person, place, thing or system in this New year that claims to be able to accomplish it! Humanity’s Adoption and ultimate happiness has been, and only can be, fulfilled by the God/Man Jesus! Improvement in this life won’t get it! We need Jesus’ exact life of New Creation, including a new and transformed body! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

But, because the Gospel is Jesus Himself, and what He has done to all of Humanity and Creation in His Divine/Human Body, then we can’t go the way of sin-filled optimism regarding the state of humanity either, no matter how great things seem! It is one thing to say along with the Apostle John, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health”, but it is a completely other thing to add “just as it is with your soul” (3 John 2). No real question about the difference in those facts, either. It is one thing to be happy and healthy! It is another thing to be as happy and healthy as your soul is because of Jesus Christ, Who lives in you! Most people I know aren’t anywhere near as happy as their soul REALLY is because of the Holy Spirit Who lives in them!

Yes, somehow in a mystical but real way, the Holy Spirit of God Himself, has been given to all flesh (sinful humanity! YOU!) in a special way, inaugurated at Pentecost! Acts 2:17! YOU, in the first instance, are in union with Christ apart from works, promises to do good, or even faith and repentance!!!

In more plain words, because God wants you to prosper and be in happiness and health as your soul is prospered by being in union with THE Holy Spirit, this may need to be a very painful year for you as you come to change your mind (repent!), embrace the truth of Jesus and Who you are in Him, and participate more in life as life really is! It will hurt like hell, at first, as you Embrace the Gospel of Humanity’s Adoption and live accordingly in the Spirit’s grace, with Christ’s same intention:

so as to live the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme!- 1 Peter 4:1-4

Ouch! A Christ-centered year, but not necessarily a happy one, at first! Ha-Ha!

But, because God is in union with all of His creation, including you, in some mystical but real way, ironically, you should be very optimistic about the New Year because of Jesus’ intent to live victoriously in you! In Jesus, your Adoption and ultimate happiness is sealed despite the hatred and disappointment of persons, places, things or systems that will blaspheme God and seek to discourage you this year!

So, again, in the spirit of this post, “I am wishing you a Christ-centered New Year!” (not necessarily an optimistic or pessimistic one! Ha-Ha!)

– Timothy J. Brassell

%d bloggers like this: