On Defining the Love of Christ.

For our Bible lesson of the day, Steve Hays over at Triablogue has defined the love of Christ. Here's what he wrote:

"Have you ever tried defining the love of Christ by Scripture? Mt 23? Mt 25? 2 Thes 1:5ff.? Rev 6:10? Rev 14:11? Rev 18? Rev 19? Rev 20?"


Matthew 23
13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.
23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! 33"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?


Matthew 25:

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."


II Thess. 1:5ff:
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.


Revelation 6:
9When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"


Rev 14:
9A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."


Rev 18:

1After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2With a mighty voice he shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil[a] spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
3For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

4Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
"Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
6Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Mix her a double portion from her own cup.
7Give her as much torture and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
'I sit as queen; I am not a widow,
and I will never mourn.'
8Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.


Rev 19:

1After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
"Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." 3And again they shouted:
"Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."


Rev 20:
11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."


This is absolutely amazing on two, no three counts: 1) Steve points out the hateful passages to the neglect of the loving passages (like the parable of the Good Samaritan, loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, and so forth, see Matthew 5:38-48), and therefore does not offer a balanced picture of what the Bible says, leading me to question whether he himself is balanced. 2) Steve believes that by definition whatever his Christ does is loving. But there is no way anyone would think his Christ is speaking in a loving way in the above verses. These verses reveal a spiteful, hateful, vengeful, and egocentric Christ. Steve is blinded by an ancient set of barbaric and superstitious writings leading him to deny every moral intuition people hold to in the world today. 3) If this is what Steve stresses when he wants to speak of love, then it's no wonder that non-believers would be scared to have people in political power who think like him. We've already been there, with the witch hunts, Inquisitions, heresy trials, crusades, and even slavery in the South.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve is a nutjob, John. Not worth banging your head up against him and his ilk.

They have painted themselves into a corner, and their only recourse is to put their fingers in their ears, and scream "NEENER NEENER NEENER!!!"

Calvinism is a pretty frightening mental disorder. Thank god that most Christians recognize this as well.

paul said...

I've always found the triabloguers kick ass approach to the gospel ironic, all the more because from their point of view it makes perfect sense.

There's something for everyone in the bible. In conversion, "re-birth" becomes an affirmation from God of who one already is, rather than a transformation into a "new creation." Doesn't it seem that they are aspiring to the very things that Jesus is purportedly reproving? Would the Triabloguers be the Pharisees of today?

Eric said...

Paul: Much of Christianity is already specifically what Jesus warned against: Most churches do have a heirarchy.

Because the Bible contradicts itself so many times over, again, we can use it against them. If someone wishes to "prove" God's "love"/"mercy", we can just as simply disprove it with a passage describing his egoism and fascist, unloving and callous behavior, much as you already did.

Eric said...

(Continued): Often, citing a passage in the Bible for one particular agenda requires the neglect of another one that conflicts with one's attempted position.

hargo said...

The bible all the evidence one needs in order to not believe in Jesus. Jesus claims that love is the highest law; the law of moses even commands it. The problem with christians is psychological. No rational individual would ever put faith in anyone who says "stone your children for being rebellious." It kind of reminds me of mob families who dont ask daddy or hubby what he does for a living, all the while living in the lap of luxury, surrounded by guys in suits with broken noses. God's offer is too great for many to simply accept the fact that he is a sadistic cosmic mobster.

Jennifer said...

Coming over here from Celtic Bear’s Musings, to leave an unsolicited comment. :) I am a former Christian. I no longer believe in the supernatural powers of God or Jesus as taught by the Bible. I do, however, still believe that the picture of given of Jesus in the gospels is the ultimate example of love for us to follow. It is easy to see how one would disagree with this given the scriptures cited here. But I wanted to point out a couple of things:

1) The book of Revelation is metaphor. Most Christians would hang me on charges of being a heretic for this, but it’s true.

2) The passage from Thessalonians are the words of Paul, not Jesus. Paul never met Jesus and completely f-ed up his message.

3) The passages from Matthew are the only ones which can even possibly be attributed to Jesus, given the historicity and provenance of the manuscripts. Matthew wrote specifically to the Jewish people, who were being oppressed spiritually, socially, politically, and economically by their leaders. Jesus was outraged at this and was exposing the leaders for what they truly were – self-righteous hypocrites. He was standing up for the poor and the oppressed, which is the ultimate display of love. Was it wrong for him to chew them apart like that? I don’t think so. We can use more of that kind of courage in our world today.

Just my unsolicited two cents. Peace! :)