Saturday, August 26, 2017

Reading A More Christlike God, by Bradley Jersak #7

JersakThis post concludes the third and final part of A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, by Bradley Jersak. In this section, Jersak explains how he presents the Gospel from this perspective. I am posting from my reading in New Testament theologies and devotionals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Kindle version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

In Chapter 14, A More Christlike Message The Beautiful Gospel, Jersak explains how a more cruciform perspective changes his presentation of the gospel. He calls his presentation a "restorative gospel." You can see an example of this presentation, done by Brian Zahnd (who wrote the forward to this book) here: A judicial explanation of the gospel has biblical elements but has some problems when taken too far. The biggest problem is that it splits the Trinity apart at the crucifixion. A divided Trinity is heresy. It also tends to present God as an angry, vindictive Deity. I have spent most of my ministry trying to convince people that God is not mad at them, but actually, really loves and seeks them to save them.. So I appreciated this presentation.

We must affirm both truths: that Christ entered an authentic experience of our sense of abandonment and that he never ceased to be God, nor did the Trinity ever cease to be one. I’ll leave the reader to ponder this mystery. 279

This drama is repeated again and again throughout the Old Testament. God makes a promise, someone turns from him, they experience the tragic results, but God comes to find them.  286

Christ did not come to change the Father, or to appease the wrath of an angry judge, but to reveal the Father...Paul said God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. It’s not the Father that needed to be reconciled to the world. It’s the world that needed to be reconciled to the Father. 294

The final chapter of the book contains a few applicational and reflective questions. How does the fact that God is exactly like Jesus impact the way we look at what it means to become the image of God, or the way we read and interpret scripture? How do we need to read the conquest texts, the God bringing disaster texts, and the imagery of Revelation? I have wrestled with these issues in the past and this book has brought some answers and more questions into my mind. But these are good things to wrestle with and I would highly recommend the book. Jersak closes out the book with quotes from across Christian history on the meaning of Jesus' self-emptying (Philippians 2.4-11)

But in the form of a slave, He bows down to the level of His fellow slaves — or rather, He bows down to His slaves — and takes upon Him a form not His own, bearing in Himself all that I am and all that is mine in order that He might consume in Himself whatever is bad as fire consumes wax or as the sun disperses the mists of earth, and in order that I may partake of His nature by the blending. Gregory of Nazianzus, 305

Therefore, the most we can ascribe to kenosis is a voluntary, self-limitation. For example, he accepts human limitations such as weariness and pain, even ignorance...Perhaps rather than ‘emptied himself,’ it would be better to say that he poured out himself in love, and that love is his nature. Kallistos Ware, 307

What is important to note is that the Cross is not a response to human evil. Rather, the Cross is the means by which God’s eternal love keeps flowing into creation despite human sin. Simon Oliver, 310

No comments: