Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

God’s Amazing Purpose: Tons Of You Are Going To Die (So Says Dobson)

God’s plan is wonderful, isn’t it?

Well, not so much if you’re still listening to the Dobson’s over at Focus on the Family/ Family Talk.

If that’s where you’re getting your info… well, God’s plan it would seem, is positively, absolutely… horrible.

Ryan Dobson, son of James Dobson, took to the “family talk” blog to tell us about how awesomely bleak our future is, saying:

“Why are so many Christians getting killed? Has His strategy for His church gone haywire? Are things out of control?

No, everything’s right on schedule.”

Now, I don’t want to make light of the legitimate Christian persecution in the world– that’s partly why I speak against the American persecution complex, as it detracts from real persecution such as the Sudanese woman who was sentenced to hang for being a Christian. (But who is now set to be freed thanks in part to folks like Amnesty International). When we set aside our self-centered persecution complex, we can actually have eyes to see that Christian persecution actually is an issue in the world today, just not here in the West. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell, the number of Christians killed for their faith each year is actually a staggering 159,960. We shouldn’t gloss over that fact.

But to say that this just means “everything is right on schedule”? What the heck does that mean, anyway?

Well, Dobson tells us:

“What about God’s plan for us—especially as it relates to dying for our faith? Do the Scriptures offer a clue?

More than a clue. All over the Bible you’ll find plenty of reminders that Christians are called to suffer for Christ— to share in His sufferings…

God’s plan for this world calls for a certain number of Christians to be put to death for the sake of Jesus. That number is not small. It’s huge. Enormous. God knows exactly who’s on that list, and how many names there are. Until that number’s reached—until all the names are checked off—the killing will continue.”

So there you have it– God’s plan is for an “enormous” amount of you to die. And until everyone on God’s list is dead, there is no hope.

Yikes… doesn’t exactly sound like “Good News” to me. But not so fast– it is good news to Dobson:

“That’s God’s purpose. That’s His amazing, mysterious plan. And it’s all part of the good and perfect story He’s written for us, a story that will make Him more famous than ever when we finally see how it all plays out.”

An “enormous” amount of people still left to die? Well, that’s just God’s “amazing” “good and perfect story”.

Ugh. Sounds like an utterly horrible story to me. If it were true, surely God would not be the author of it.

A better story, methinks, would be this one: humanity has a disturbing propensity to enact violence against one another, especially people that was see as being “different” than ourselves. God himself came in the flesh to expose this system for what it was and is– even allowing himself to become the victim of our violent tendencies. As a result, we now have the opportunity to radically change the world by living out his moral example of love– especially enemy love, and teaching others to live this way too. The good news Jesus promised Peter, was that if an organized body (aka “the Church”) would do this, not even the gates of hell would be able to stop it.

That’s the amazing, good and perfect story: that God himself became a victim of our violent system to expose our violent system and teach us a new way of living. Now, the story continues as he invites us to help reproduce this new Jesus-way of living so that it spreads to every “tribe and tongue”.

But the idea that God’s plan is to slaughter an enormously long list of people? That’s not a good story at all– sounds more like a Quentin Tarantino movie.

 

Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

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  1. Only out of the mouth of an evil hack like Dobson could the statement “a story that will make Him more famous than ever” arise . . .of course, God exists solely to get people to worship Him in an extremely specific theologically dogmatic way, and then to get “famous” when he comes back to condemn everyone else to eternal suffering.

    What religion do these people follow? It’s not Christianity.

  2. You know, I used to love James Dobson. That’s just how I was raised. I grew up on Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey series, and my parents always taught that Dobson had the best parenting advice.

    I probably would have just accepted this teaching as sad, but biblically true and necessary.

    It’s been odd adjusting to this new perspective of him. Especially when I see things like how FotF treats gay teens. Now when I read about god’s “mysterious plan” I can see what he REALLY means. The mystery is that everyone can see it’s horrible, but “true Christians” have to believe it’s beautiful.

  3. This is an interesting discussion in several areas.

    First and foremost I cannot agree with the statement that Jesus was a ‘victim of our violent tendencies’ or that His death was of any kind of a demonstration of how violent our world was and is. God’s desire to have a relationship with us, His creation, resulted in a ‘plan’ of salvation. This plan included the requirement of a perfect (sinless) death sacrifice. There was only one who could meet the ‘perfect’ qualification, and that was God Himself. From the beginning God planned that His son would be the one to make the sacrifice and the entire Godhead including Jesus was in complete agreement – as they are on all things.

    From the beginning, God knew that the cross was going to happen, He knew when it was going to happen and He knew that His chosen people, the Hebrew nation, were going to be the ones to do it. He knew and Jesus knew exactly what was going to be inflicted on the Christ and the death on the cross and the sufferings of Jesus were all part of the plan. It is through the horror of the cross that we see just how much the Father and Jesus love us, which is what God wanted us to know. So other than in a strictly legalistic use of the word, Jesus was not a victim, but came purposely to this world to voluntarily go through the sufferings and death on the cross to pay the price that only He could pay. He used the people of the day to get the job done.

    There was no intent to demonstrate how violent the world is, that was already well understood and 2000 years later nothing has changed. To justify this statement, I point out that the true suffering on the cross was not the physical trauma that He experienced, but the spiritual agony that He and the Father both went through. When the sins that He took on Himself, sins that include violence, indifference to suffering, pride, sexual impurity and all of the other things that we have done to reject our God, sins that we all, going back to Adam and as far into the future as the last person on earth, millions upon millions of people, when those sins caused Him to experience spiritual death – the separation of the Son of God from His Father. That separation was the fault of all people and not just the Jews.

    But because He experienced physical and spiritual death – we don’t have to. We have been restored to relationship with God. Our sins have been forgiven and no longer separate us from our God. Instead of spiritual death, we now have eternal life, provided we obey Jesus’ command and do the will of the Father (Matt 7:21). This is what is important about the cross.

    1. This post carries a heck of a lot of assumptions about what God thinks exactly and what drives His purpose and why God does what etc.

      Penal substitution is a “theory” extolled by certain theologians, first seen in Medieval times, when “theologian” was a profession when you literally sat in your hamlet all day and tried to get inside God’s head. A perhaps admirable but ultimately completely speculative task. PSA is not “biblical” in the slightest, given the writers of the Bible in addition to the readers of the Bible for hundreds of years did not develop or share such a theory.

  4. Benjamin, so to combat all the suffering in the world the creator of the universe decided to be killed and “expose” the violent tendencies of humans, and decided to leave so bad records of this act that we’re not really sure what the point of all that was.

    Sounds like a silly plan to me, and, to quote you: and are an enormous amount of people still left to die? Well, that’s just God’s amazing good and perfect story.

  5. Whew. I believe religious persecution is clearly unjust and agree with you that bogus claims of persecution in the US distract us from the real and brutal persecution that is taking place in the world. But I am wondering about Dobson’s theology — in his view, does the fact that God has marked massive numbers of specific individuals to be killed as part of a plan to “make Him more famous” (!?!), does that somehow mean their persecution is not unjust, if it is part of some “perfect story?”

  6. Thanks for the follow on Twitter- have just read your “back story” and am excited to have found your blog- it gives me real hope! Two things I’m not comfortable with are a penal-substitutionary approach to the cross which is focused on God’s wrath, and also the idea of God having a detailed plan for my life (almost as a micro-manager). So I loved this post- which presents the cross in a way that makes perfect sense, and also invites us to get on with following Christ’s example of love, mercy and forgiveness in our ordinary, day to day lives (rather than waiting around wondering when we might discover the “plan” for us!)

    1. Glad you’ve found it! Feel free to join in and become part of the community. There are a lot of great people here who you’ll like. There are occasional trolls, but I usually ban them to keep the space relatively “safe”.

  7. Thanks, Benjamin. The son of James Dobson speaks, and justifications for death come out of his mouth. The son of Billy Graham speaks, and justifications for death come out of his mouth –though God’s wrath upon “America” for not voting Romney hasn’t happened yet, as Franklin prophesied in his 2012 interview with Newsmax TV.

    Sure is a lot of death coming from these top U.S. Evangelicals. Jesus had a remarkably different message, but who will dare tell them this?

    1. There’s a story in one of James Dobson’s child-rearing books about how he showed a picture of himself as a little boy to his kids and the first thing they thought of was “that’s the man who spanks me?” It’s sad that the first thing they thought of when they thought of their dad was getting spanked. It’s even sadder that James Dobson thought this was something to brag about.

  8. Wow, I did not realize the sheer numbers of Christians who are killed for their faith. Those numbers are appalling.

    Do you have numbers on non-Christians who are killed for their faith (or lack thereof)? It’s not relevant to the point of your post, but it would shed light on the state of religious intolerance in the world (actually, now that I think about it, the intensity of religious intolerance in the world and the violence that stems from it does speak to the question of whether it’s all a part of God’s “plan”).

      1. Benjamin. These are not “stats,” it is the cruel reality of what is happening in the world where American Christians in are clueless and out of touch. Go Google or research what has or has happened to hundreds of thousands of Christians in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Palestinian Christians. Your high ranking atheist friends probably don’t care and frankly, it doesn’t seem as if American Christians care that much, because if its not on CNN or any of your news channels, it doesn’t exist and therefore those who have been killed have become nothing more than “stats.”

  9. You use that conversation between Jesus and Peter, but what about the other conversation between the two?

    John 21:18-19

    “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.'”

    1. It’s an irrelevant passage– Jesus was simply foretelling the future. Surely, God was not the causation of Peter’s death– he died at the hands of a violent empire, the same violent system that killed Jesus.

      1. I’m interested to see what passage of Scripture you use to back up that claim. Not wanting to start an argument, just genuinely interested at what passage(s) led you to hold that belief.

          1. I would point you to the prayer in Acts 4:28, where Peter prayed about God working in Pilate, Judas, the Gentiles and the people of Israel “to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

            Yes, there are incidences of God foretelling the future, but there are also instances, such as this one, and prophecies about God bringing up Cyrus, (Isaiah 45), and Proverbs showing that “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (21:1)

            God is more powerful than we make Him out to be.

            1 Corinthians 1:28-29.
            “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

            We serve an awesome God.

            1. So then by your theology God is responsible when children are raped, when they are kidnapped. God is responsible when children are murdered in the streets of Chicago, is that what you are saying?

              1. I’m just simply quoting Scripture, mr. Johnny. That’s all I’m saying.

                God’s ways are not our ways, as seen in John 9, when Jesus’ disciples asked who sinned in order for the man they saw to have been born blind.

                John 9:3 “Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.'”

                That is mind-boggling, that is deep. When Jesus makes statements such as these in Scriptures, we need to dive in, not brush them over.

                1. Romans 8:18-25 is another passage that warrants a deeper look, especially when it says God subjected the world to futility, in hope

                  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

      2. Mr. Corey, as a former Christian, does the Bible not say, in Revelation and other places in the New Testament, that Jesus is going to come back in the battle of Armageddon and kill all non-believers then send them to eternal torture? That will be the majority of humanity. You and other Christians will of course be in Paradise which is great, but I don’t see how you can say Christ/God is loving. It will be the largest act of genocide blowing Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot out of the water, and simply because one didn’t believe that a carpenter turned prophet was God’s son. Tragic, not beautiful. Doubtless you will say we have a choice and it’s God’s plan, but not much of a choice. Love me or go to Hell. Thoughts?

  10. But then the question becomes did God not know how these people would die and if He does isn’t that technically part of His “plan” . Romans 8:28 says he can work all things for good (my paraphrase) so couldn’t these be apart of some grander plan of His to touch the killers heart as He did with Jim Eliot’s murderer? I’m not condoning what Dobson said, I’m just thinking maybe a broader view than what you seem to take (i.e. His omniscience is lacking) needs to be taken. I see the point of a loving God not wanting anyone to be murdered, but to say it is not part of His plan is like saying He didn’t know it would happen. At least to me.

    1. I would separate omniscience– knowing something will happen from “plan” which would be causing something to happen. I would argue that when it comes to people slaughtered, God is not the causation. However, I would certainly affirm that he can create beauty out of ashes, but that would be different from causing something to happen.

      A good example would be a friend who lost a child in a car accident. While I don’t believe that God was the causation of the accident, he has certainly used that tragedy to do some beautiful things in the last few years. So for me, they are two different things. Hope that helps.

      1. What about the prayer in Acts?

        Acts 4:27-28
        “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

        Or Isaiah 53:10?

        “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

        Jesus was in control of when and where He was to die. Multiple times in the Gospel accounts it says people attempted to lay their hands on Him, but they were not able to. (John 7:30) “So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him,because his hour had not yet come.”

        Jesus was not a mere victim. Jesus was sent to die for our sins, absorbing the just wrath of God.

        John 10:18
        “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

        John 3:36
        “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

      2. Yes, it does. I have a better understanding where you are coming from now. He can use the situation without causing the situation. I totally agree with that. Please don’t think that I agree with Dobson. I do not. I believe we use the term “plan” as a blanket term when really it is not.

    2. Benjamin also wants to remove out of the equation any semblance of God’s sovereignty, which puts us all, sinner and saint alike, under the eternal will and redemptive plan of God.

        1. The overarching theme in your article is in denial of God’s sovereignty. You attack what Dobson says without any understanding of the biblical basis for his statements.

            1. His credentials are the Scriptures. What are yours that they should be more highly regarded than Scripture? Scripture trumps the credentials of men every time.

                1. Benjamin, are you unable to look it up for yourself? Try Revelation 6:9-11 on for size.

                  1. Yup, that passage says they were killed for being Christians… Doesn’t say that God planned or willed them to be killed. You’re reading your version of sovereignty into scripture instead of just taking scripture at face value.

                    1. It is more than clear by these verses in Revelation that it is God’s will for many more of the faith to die as martyrs until their number be fulfilled. Just as it was also His will not to avenge their blood until that number be fulfilled. Until that time, they were to wait for a season while God’s will was being fulfilled.
                      As it is, I can no longer waste my time here casting pearls. Have a great life!

          1. Wow, you push mythology to a whole new level! Spend a bit of time researching the invention of your source material and then take a deep breath of fresh air.

          2. It’s not an attack of God’s sovereignty. God can be sovereign and not be the causation of an event. Don’t confuse His omniscience with His causing an event to happen. It would seem you are denying man’s free will to decide to be the cause of an event.

  11. Excuse me?! Christ was NOT a victim of our violent tendencies. He was the price that was paid for the propitiation of our sin! No one took His life; it was His to lay down. This article is nothing but liberal church theology base on human emotion and feelings, it is NOT based upon the truth of Scripture.

      1. It most certainly does not since Christ was the Lamb that was slain from BEFORE the foundations of the world.

        1. Wow Richard there is no way you can say some of the things you said, and be a serious theologian.

      2. Jesus dying as a mere victim is not atonement. Anymore than any other senseless act of violence could be considered “atonement” nobody looks upon a school shooting as an “atonement” they call it a tragedy and rightly so. The cross the bible describes is a substitution one for another “the lord has LAID ON HIM the iniquities of us all” Ben’s cross is no atonement but rather a tragedy with a happy ending.

        1. Didn’t say “mere” victim– I referenced one aspect of the cross. This is precisely the problem: there are multiple ways to describe what happened on the cross. The minute you talk about one that isn’t the central or favorite explanation of the next guy, it’s all of a sudden an issue. We need to be able to appreciate that simply because it is correct that Jesus became the victim of a violent system as a way of exposing the system, also does not negate issues of substitution atonement. I think too many folks think that their primary atonement metaphor doesn’t have room for any others and becomes threatened when others are used.

        2. What Benjamin said. Mentioning that Jesus was a victim (which is true) does not negate atonement. He never said that the entire purpose of the cross was a “tragedy with a happy ending.”

        3. Not true. Check Martin Luther King’s famous speech regarding the children killed by a bomber. King spoke much of atonement, both senseless acts of violence now, and the senseless acts of violence of the Romans back at the time of Jesus.

    1. You should take the time to study and explore some atonement theology– especially the atonement theology that pre-dates your concept of penal substitution which is relatively new. Simply denouncing something as “liberal” doesn’t make it untrue.

      1. Benjamin, I most certainly have studied it for almost 30 years. And while Christ’s death on the cross most certainly was the atonement for the sins of man, He was also the penal substitute for MY sins. Christ was the Lamb that was slain from BEFORE the foundations of the world. Therefore His atonement was already in motion, and no scheme of man or the devil could thwart or change what was to take place on the cross! It was an intentional act by the Father in the redemptive covenant between Himsef, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christ was NEVER made a victim, but every act, every Word, and every miracle, were intentional and directed by a sovereign God.

        1. “Christ was NEVER made a victim, but every act, every Word, and every miracle, were intentional and directed by a sovereign God.”

          So Jesus was God’s puppet. Not his equal, but rather a little puppet to which God held the strings and made him dance exactly as he wanted.

          Mhmm.

          1. Jennifer, are you seriously that ignorant of Scripture???

            John 8:21-29
            Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?” And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

            Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world only those things which I heard from Him.” They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.

            Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

    2. Richard… you are partially right and partially wrong, you are playing at symantics. In order for Him to give His life, He had to surrender it to a violent world for them to take, otherwise He would be committing suicide. And we both know you are not even hinting at that, are you? As far as the liberal vs conservative thing goes, that has no place in a REAL theological conversation.

      1. Exactly. He willingly and freely subjected himself to illegal trials and to be executed by a violent empire. He can still enter the system willingly while becoming a victim of the flawed system itself– thus showing it’s time for a new system (aka, the Kingdom)

        1. Yet the Kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Violence, whether physical or spiritual, is a fact of life. Jesus Himself did not come to bring peace but a sword.

          1. The Jesus I know told Peter to put DOWN his sword, even as the enemy attacked. Jesus, who could have called a legion of angels to rescue him from the cross, instead chose to die for our atonement. The Jesus I know offered Judas his hands in friendship even knowing he had been betrayed. The Jesus I know made the “righteous” put down their stones and said, “Neither do I condemn you.” If we call ourselves by Christ’s name (“Christian”), then we are to act as Christ acted – when our enemies attack us, we do not fight back, even at the cost of our own lives. We pray, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” If we repay violence with violence, the cycle continues. The Kingdom of God cannot be “taken by force”, because its King is the one who created the world, and no force – physical or spiritual – can stand against it. How slanderous to suggest that the Prince of Peace cannot bring about peace, by one verse taken out of its original context! Only human arrogance would think that the Kingdom can be overcome by violence or force, and only a heart full of fear would doubt that God is capable of defending himself.

            1. Jesus never came to bring peace in the world! As a matter of fact, He said there would be an increase of wars, and rumors of wars. The place that He rules with peace is in our hearts. The interior life is where the Prince of Peace dwells. YES! We are to love our enemies! YES! We are to bless those who curse us! But in doing so we are heaping coals of fire (judgement) upon their heads! That sounds pretty violent to me! The book of Revelation also sounds pretty violent to me. Do not mix your human emotions and your flawed external flowers and butterflies narrative with the plan and the judgements of God. Many who do will someday face the absolute reality of a harsh and powerful God who judges violently and with fire. For now he has extended grace and mercy, but that will soon change in the blink of an eye!

              1. No, the place where Jesus rules in not only in “our hearts.”
                He said for us to love invading soldiers!, and when they impose ruthless obligations on us (such as being forced to carry their baggage), we should do extra for those invading soldiers.
                Even if they execute our friends, we should forgive them.

                As Jesus said in his prayer, “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

          2. Wait a minute! (I’m a retired literature teacher.) Please read the “sword” comment of Jesus in context. He wasn’t calling for lethal violence! He was speaking of how, when one stands for the truth, DIVISION will happen, like a sword dividing.

            The sword imagery was a metaphor, not a call to actually kill.

            Jesus said we are to love our enemies.

            1. I never said Jesus was calling for lethal violence. The sword He speaks of is His spoken Word. His Word violently cuts asunder the soul and the spirit, dividing light and darkness. His Word will set a man’s father and mother, sisters and brothers against him. It will even divide his own household. It is not a metaphor, it is spiritual reality.
              The things you mention concerning going the extra mile, or offering the other cheek, etc. are spiritually violent. Absent of repentance, these acts of spiritual violence bring upon the enemy eternal judgement from a holy God.

              1. In all seriousness, have you considered going to seminary? It would really help you better understand passages like you’re attempting to discuss and would help you to have a more thorough view of them. Turning the other cheek doesn’t bring eternal damnation on an enemy, it is a nonviolent way to shame your enemy. It doesn’t sound like you have had an exegetical training, and I would encourage you to pursue some.

                1. In all seriousness Benjamin, Have you ever considered letting the Holy Spirit be your teacher rather than a lot of the garbage taught in many seminaries today? You rely way too much on your seminary training and human intellect, yet you scarcely understand anything of the Spirit. I went to seminary, and experienced a high degree of ignorance on the part of my teachers concerning spiritual matters. Way too many seminaries today are spiritual cesspools. I also know far too many people who received their M.Div or PhD, and yet they completely lost their faith in the process. Your seminary degree and $3 might just buy you a nasty cup of coffee, but it does not guarantee your ability to hear absolute truth from the Holy Spirit. Yes, you heard me right, I said absolute truth. Something that you and all your postmodern buds want to deny, or run away from, in the name of establishing false narratives that prop up a theological house of cards. The fact that you count Brian McLaren among your colleagues doesn’t surprise me in the least. McLaren is theologically misguided and has clearly stepped outside of 2000 years of established orthodoxy.

  12. It is a pretty common interpretation of a passage in Revelations where the martyrs are given white robes, told to wait “until their number was complete”…not a pleasant vision…

    1. Right– I totally see that verse. Where the interpretation loses me is that all the death and destruction is God’s will and God’s plan. Certainly, he permits it to happen and can work good through our own evil actions, as he does so many other things, but this is much different from planning it to happen.

      1. I hear you…the problem is that if you acknowledge that God had foreknowledge of everything when he created the universe, then you have to do some theological gymnastics to get around it. It is sort of like having a supply/demand side economics discussion…if you look at it objectively you can see both sides of the argument but it is hard to prove right or wrong either way…

        1. Sounds kind-of Calvinistic in a way, and reminds me of one interpretation of Romans 9.22-23 (“If God so wanted to show how angry he was, and make it known how
          powerful he was, that he put up patiently with jars of wrath, meant for
          destruction, so as to show off the riches of his glory upon the jars of mercy which he has prepared in glory…why not?”)

          Personally, I see that interpretation of God as a “cosmic ass” – how can a God who is love (1 John 4.8) do something so hateful as to sentence people to destruction arbitrarily for his own self-aggrandizement?

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