Monday, June 19, 2006

Justice- A book we need to add to the Bible

Cover of "Unspoken Sermons"Cover of Unspoken Sermons

Who do I see about this? I want to add a new book to the Bible. It's been approaching 1,700 years since we closed the book on the Bible. Isn't it about time we think about putting a new one in there? Did God stop talking when the last gospel writer sat down his pen? I think not.

I've got the perfect candidate for the book. It's every bit as theologically and philosophically sound as Paul's letters. It discusses the true nature of God and Jesus and their relationship to us. It's Biblically sound in that it doesn't contradict with what is already in the canon. It makes perfect sense of what is can be a confusing issue of how God could be both infinitely merciful and infinitely just. It blasts that damnable doctrine of "penal substitutionary atonement" back to the pit it came from. It makes sense of why and how God could punish us and be merciful, at the same time. It gives us a picture of the true meaning of the word Justice, not the distorted and petty human justice that we've projected onto God- returning the favor of His creating us in His image by creating Him in ours. And, we can read it in its original language. No need for The Message type translations, or even literal translations. It's right there in plain old English.

The book I'd like to propose is simply titled "Justice". It's a sermon by the Scottish author, poet and minister George MacDonald. It's in his book "Unspoken Sermons" available via the Internet and in hard copy. But, don't worry, I've created a PDF file for you that you can download here.

"Why do we need this book in the Bible?", you might ask. When the Bible was canonized, we didn't need it. But, that was before Jonathan Edwards (the author of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"), John Calvin, Saint Anselm and others gave us the image of a god who doesn't know how to forgive without blood and who punishes simply to inflict suffering. That was before we were given the image of a god who would prefer to inflict suffering on One perfectly innocent than allow His honor to be besmirched. That was before we were told about a god who would create imperfect creatures bound to sin eventually, and then eternally torment them for being just as he made them. We didn't need the book "Justice" in our Bibles 1,700 years ago. But, we need it today!

I reread Justice over the past couple of days. It's probably the fourth time I've read it. Each time, I just try to soak in as much as possible and make it a part of me. I read it when I get weak and begin to think "Maybe God really is the monster I was told He is." When I feel that way, I read George MacDonald and all is right with the world again.

I wanted to pull out some highlights from the sermon. But, if I begin, I'm afraid I'll just end up writing the whole thing over again. So, I'll just pull out one. Each time I read the sermon, something a little different really hits me. This time it was this passage. And, it actually actually made me feel ashamed. I had to pray for forgiveness after reading it. George pulls no punches, that's what I love about his style. He writes...
Where there is no ground to believe that God does a thing except that men who would explain God have believed and taught it, he is not a true man who accepts men against his own conscience of God. I acknowledge no authority calling upon me to believe a thing of God, which I could not be a man and believe right in my fellow-men. I will accept no explanation of any way of God which explanation involves what I should scorn as false and unfair in a man.

Ouch! That one hurt. I had to reflect on how through so many years, I allowed people to tell me things about God that I just knew couldn't be true. Things that made me wish God had never created me. What's also weird (well this happens all of the time now, so it's not really that weird), just a few days before I decided to read George MacDonald, the Quaker Pastor I met with said something similar. When I told him how I had uncritically accepted the atrocious things people had taught me about God, he said that when people told him things that he knew were not consistent with God's character, he simply rejected them as not true. Oh, how I wish I could have done that!

Back to the point, I've uploaded the Justice file as a PDF for your easy reading. It's pretty long and George was Scottish and lived a long time ago. So his English can be a little difficult to read. But, I think this (and all his other sermons) are well worth wading through.

Let me know what you think... Click here to download Justice. Until we can get it officially added, you can just print it out and stick it in your Bible.

Peace,
Brian
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