Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tony Jones: Re-Modeling God according to Updated Specifications

We want life to make sense to us – and this is a good impulse – and so we re-shape God according to our understanding and lifestyle. And this is not a good impulse. Why not? For one thing, we are warned against doing this. Many verses declare that He is above our understanding. We are finite and He is infinite:

         "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

The Creator of the universe is further beyond our understanding than even the universe itself! Therefore, we shouldn’t go beyond what He has revealed to us (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Cor. 4:7).

But how do we understand the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal? Why would our omniscient God allow this horror? He certainly could have intervened!

In order to preserve his belief in an all-loving, non-judging God, the Emergent Church teacher, Tony Jones, rhetorically asks:

         What if, instead, God is traveling through time with us? What if God abdicated all the sovereignty so as to give creation room to flourish? What if God is in a dynamic love-relationship with us, and both we and God are being changed as a result? http://tonyj.net/blog/2015/04/28/where-is-god-in-the-earthquake/

In order to justify his philosophy of life, Jones is willing to reject God’s biblical self-disclosure – His unchanging-ness (immutability), omniscience, and omnipotence:

         If this [above] is the case — and there’s ample biblical evidence that it is — then the earthquake in Nepal caught God by surprise. God is neither planning earthquakes nor sitting back and allowing them to happen. God is a victim of the earthquake because thousands of God’s beloved children perished.

“Ample biblical evidence?” Well, let’s take a look:

         Malachi 3:6 – “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.

         James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

         James 1:10-12 - “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed.  But you are the same, and Your years will not fail.”

         Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

         Psalm 139:4 – For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

         Hebrew 4:13 – And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must given account.

         Psalm 147:5 – Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

         Psalm 139:16 – Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

         Isaiah 42:9 – “Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

         Isaiah 45:11 – Thus says the LORD, The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:  “Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons; And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.

         Psalm 37:23 – The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.

         Matthew 10:29 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

         Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Job’s three friends also tried to construe God and His actions according to their worldview. They were correct that God was involved in Job’s misfortunes and attributed “good” motives to God. However, they were convinced that Job had some massive secret sins that were responsible for His suffering and misrepresented God in their attempt to bring God into conformity with their philosophy, and God was angry at them:

         After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7)

We are not at liberty to conform God to our ideological preferences. Instead, the measure of our love for God isn’t a matter of how “nice” we want to make Him seem, but instead, how faithful we remain to His Self-revelation:

         Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

Not only is Jones’ views unbiblical, they are also illogical and beneath the dignity of God. How can we account for the fine-tuning of the universe, the immutable and elegant, laws of nature, DNA, the cell, life, logic, reason, freewill, and consciousness, if even an earthquake had “caught God by surprise?”

Why does Jones invent such a God – one who will also be caught by surprise by our diseases, failures, and even death and therefore helpless before them? I’ll leave that up to you!

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