Thursday, October 17, 2013

God’s Bias

At first blush one might think it’s almost blasphemy to suggest that God is biased. The default God of our current culture, should one believe in one at all, does not get involved much in the affairs of Earth. He played some part when the universe(s) began, perhaps "wound it up," but since then has sat back in his throne and let everything run it's course, declining to interfere for philosophical reasons. This view has been quite popular since Renaissance times.

But if God did have a preference, hypothetically speaking of course, many assume it would lean more toward the 'condemnation' side of things. You know, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God,” and all that...

But the God of Jesus and the early Christian Movement is most definitely biased.  There is a specific place God wants all this to end up and he has played history with loaded dice so that it reaches that goal -- most obviously by God's blatant interference in the world's affairs through the actions of Jesus of Nazareth.

This goal of history that God is so assiduously working towards was known under various names by Jesus' early followers: Kingdom of God, New Jerusalem or Jerusalem Above, and 'New Heaven and New Earth." One of them described it like this:
I heard a loud voice from [God's] throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beingsHe will live among themand they will be his peopleand God himself will be with them.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyesand death will not exist any more – or mourningor cryingor painfor the former things have ceased to exist.”
(Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter 21 verses 13 - 14, NET).

We will go more into this in a later post, but the Christian Movement has long recognized that there is a clear story arc in the Scriptures, a story of rescue that starts in a famous garden and ends in this scene of every tear being wiped from humanity's eyes. The New Heaven and Earth are a very ancient dream that one can trace with ever-increasing clarity through the Jewish/Christian revelation.

But that conclusion of history is not really the bias. At least it's not the reason this story runs the way it does. God isn't doing this in a calm, dispassionate, and businesslike way or just to have something to do. There is a very personal reason for doing this, something that God wants. That motivation is his bias.

Here is that bias stated in a nutshell: “God our Savior... wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” (First Letter to Timothy chapter 2 verses 3 - 4, NET).

Centuries before that sentence was penned, a Jewish prophet wrote these words:

“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live... I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!"

(Book of the Prophet Ezekiel chapter 18 verses 23, 32, NLT)

Since it's rather well known I won't quote the obvious scripture, which tells of a God who loves "the world" -- kosmon in Greek, Earth and everyone on it. Loves it enough to make the ultimate sacrifice for it.

This is God's bias, which runs all throughout time. In the end, the being Jesus called "Father" desires that all his children will be safe at home with him.


But... If God wants them saved why won't everyone make it? Or will they? And what about people that never hear the Great Announcement [i.e., the Gospel]? And how could a God that good do all the mean things he did in the Bible? And, and... We'll discuss all those things in other posts, but we're "doing theology" bit by bit here and there is a lot to explore. Keep checking back for more. Or you could always subscribe.

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