Jesus calls God “Father,” and teaches us to do the same (see: the Lord’s prayer). This means that the basic defining relationship between us and God is that of a Father and his children. Which is the same relationship God had with the children of Israel. This means that what was relationally true of the people in the OT is also true of us. How God interacts with them is how God interacts with us. How God feels about them is how God feel about us.
It is also true that we often respond just as they did. We read the NT and wonder how the disciples could be so thick-headed, how the Pharisees could be so blinded by their religion. We read the OT and we wonder how the Israelities could so easily run back to idolatry, how even someone like David could turn and do something so evil as to steal a man’s wife and then have him murdered. But we are just like all of them. We are the thick-headed disciples. We are the blinded-by-religion Pharisees. We are the faithless Israelites worshipping a golden cow, with the memory of the parted sea still fresh in our minds. We are David, whose lust can overwhelm us, even if we are a man after God’s own heart.
The Bible is full of human weakness and failings. The more we can identify with that and see it in ourselves, the more we will have an accurate picture of ourselves and our sinfulness. The Bible is also full of the love, mercy, and grace of a Father God who knows all this and loves His children anyway. If we can learn to see ourselves in all those relationships between God and humans in the Bible, we will get, not only a more accurate picture of ourselves, but a more accurate picture of oursevles as God sees us, as a Father who loves His children.
First of all, I would like to apologize to my subscribers. I made a concerted effort in 2011 to post regularly and heard from several of you that the Monday Meditations were appreciated. I hope to resume them this summer (once my dissertation is complete and I have recovered from the process).
I am breaking my blog silence today because I wanted to draw your attention to a post I enjoyed reading yesterday by Pastor Jonathan Martin, a pentecostal theology rant, as he called it. There is so much there that I identify and agree with and I wanted to chime in a bit, as this is the driving impetus behind the dissertation I am writing.
With regard to whether Pentecostal theology is icing or cake (or Terry Cross’ older metaphor relish or main dish), it is not just that Pentecostals can do our own theological reflection, that we ought to because we are able and capable of doing so – though this in itself is valid as a claim and reason. It is more importantly the case that we must construct our own theology – from the ground up – because adding on a wing to an existing theological structure makes the whole unstable, unsound, leading us into self-contradiction and to a loss of what makes us who we are as Pentecostals.
For example, our doctrine of initial evidence goes wrong from the start because it builds on too narrow an understanding of atonement. Our failed experience with initial evidence teaching shows us that we need a more robust account, a soteriology dynamic and versatile enough to accommodate the varieties of experience we have witnessed (both in the Acts accounts and in our own lives) when a person comes to trust in Jesus and is baptized in his fire. What we need is an account that acknowledges we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. And yet what we have are cards with checkboxes. We cannot build on the very limited understanding of atonement our evangelical friends work with and possibly hope to create useful explanations of sanctification and the complex relationship of water and Spirit baptism. Our communities have suffered because of our lack of theological imagination and resourcefulness. It is not just that we can make the cake. It is that our people will remain malnourished until we do.