Jonathan Edwards described God’s transfer of happiness to man and man’s satisfaction found in the enjoyment of God. Edwards brings together in a most concise manner, the topics of God’s aseity, happiness, goodness, and justice in Inference two of his message:
How good is God, that he has created man for this very end, to make him happy in the enjoyment of himself, the Almighty, who was happy from the days of eternity in himself, in the beholding of his own infinite beauty: the Father in the beholding and love of his Son, his perfect and most excellent image, the brightness of his own glory; and the Son in the love and enjoyment of the Father. And God needed no more, could accede no more. But yet God, who was thus happy in himself, has a natural propensity and inclination to communicate happiness to some other beings. This inclination in the nature of God is what we call goodness. And ’twas because of this inclination that he created the world, and especially that he created men and angels in it. ’Twas not that he might be made more happy himself, but that [he] might make something else happy; that3 he might make them blessed in the beholding of his excellency, and might this way glorify himself. And even the damnation of the wicked is for the manifestation of God’s justice, that he might show more of his excellency to the blessed, to their greater delight in their Godhead. Good, therefore, is God, who does such wondrous things merely from an inclination to goodness.
3 MS: “in the.”
Jonathan Edwards, “Nothing upon Earth Can Represent the Glories of Heaven,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1723–1729 (ed. Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema; vol. 14; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1997), 14153.
There are many analogies waiting for the incident at the “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” premiere in Colorado. While we may not have the power to stop maniacs like the shooter in Colorado, we can do our part by heeding Paul’s words in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We overcome evil by showing doing what is required of Christ-followers: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
The Life and Times of a Communications Coordinator
Like the rest of the country, I was shocked and disheartened this morning as I heard the news of the “Batman Shooting” in Aurora, Colorado. As news commentators cry, “What is this world coming to?” and “How did this happen?”, I am asking myself another question: What kind of childhood will my children remember?
“The youngest reported victim is a 3-month-old, who is said to be doing fine at University Hospital, where 20 patients, including nine in critical condition, are being treated. Another victim is a six-year-old being treated at Children’s Hospital, where a total of six victims were taken. Their condition wasn’t known. Victims were rushed to six area hospitals overall.” ~CBS News
Retro Wishes, Childhood Dreams
“Be home before the streetlights come on,” was the summertime rule in my house. Growing up in the small town of Plymouth, Michigan, during the 80’s was a real-life Sandlot experience. Between…
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Sarah Breuer has an interesting comment about our mission in this world. She writes,
As enfleshed icons of God’s image, as Christ’s body present on earth, we are called to participate in God’s mission, God’s victory over every oppressive power.
Many in biblical studies take the notion of the image of God to mean a given set of qualities imparted upon man. These qualities might be attributes such as a moral aptitude not given to other animals of creation. In this thinking, mankind, by being created in the image of God, has a moral capacity to know and to engage in moral behavior that is not expected of other animals. While I agree that man has been imbued with a moral capacity, it may have been a characteristic present in the human species itself. We simply don’t know. What we do know is the that the notion of being created in the image of God would have carried more than just a moral quality. In the ancient Near East, bearing the image of a person in power, signified the right to represent that powerful person to all one encountered. A modern day version of this idea would be the large posters on Saddam Hussein plastered to buildings and roadside signs throughout Iraq prior to the Gulf War. Another version would be the large Soviet Union crests and pictures of Joseph Stalin throughout the former Soviet Union until the late 1980’s. What role did these images play in the residents of these two counties? The icons reminded them who was in charge and the character of that person. The posters and crests were icons that represented the actual power (person) that stood behind them. As creatures created in the image of God, regenerated, and now part of Christ’s body, we are called to represent God’s mission in this world. More than the posters that adorned buildings or crests that perched on buildings, we are live representatives of God’s character in this world. Further, the aforementioned icons represented the fearful repercussions that extended from the flawed character of those rulers. In contrast, Christ-followers are called as Sarah puts it, to participate in “God’s victory over every oppressive power.” As God’s image-bearers, we represent, the restoration available to all through Christ. However, it doesn’t stop there; for we are called to act as God acts: to represent his righteous and just character. This means we must be proactive in issues of peacemaking, relief of oppression, and bearing of justice in our world. Our mission is to proclaim the freedom offered by our King and to cry out for justice and relief for the helpless and downtrodden: To be enfleshed icons of God’s image.
(Sarah Dylan Breuer. The Justice Project (emersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith) (p. 36). Kindle Edition.)
This quote made me stop and think today:
The practice of justice is at the center of God’s purpose for human life. It is so closely related to the worship of the living God as the only true God that no act of worship is acceptable to him unless it is accompanied by concrete acts of justice on the human level. Micah 6:8, which may be regarded as a synthesis of Old Testament ethics, points in this direction: “He has told you, 0 mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly before your God.” -C. Rene Padilla
In The Justice Project (emersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith) (p. 23). Kindle Edition.
“…while earlier examples of victim-focused advocacy in Latin America have been aimed mainly at governments, many of Mexico’s so-called victim visualizers say they are less interested in politics and marches than in changing their neighbors’ mind-sets. Their campaigns are mostly attempts to create a public conscience, to keep people from committing or accepting violence by making them feel the suffering that ripples out from crime — largely through efforts that can be shared easily by word of mouth or social media.”
Rodrigo Cruz for The New York Times
Images have impact as seen throughout modern history. Photos of atrocities in Auschwitz, Vietnam, Darfur and others proved that images can move people to action. However, theses images of the past were of the actual atrocity not a portrait of the victim while living. The lasting image of the young man’s last seconds alive as recorded by Eddie Adams impacts the human soul. Or the lasting image of the furnaces at Auschwitz impacts the human soul. The camps in Darfur impacts the human soul. These images confront us with evil, remind us of how things are not supposed to end, tell us to defend the helpless, bring offenders of human rights to justice. The portrait project in Mexico communicates none of these ideas. It’s not a call to action, but a call to remember. That’s why it will fail.
Wolterstorff provides a good concise summary of his view on the justice of God. He masterfully unites the concept of justice with the character of God and notion of human value.
Wolterstorff’s summary of Justice in his chapter “Justice of God” in For faith and clarity (2006), 197:
Justice is constituted of normative social relationships. Primary justice reigns when the rights of persons to the actions and restraints from action of others are honored. A person is just insofar as he or she honors the rights of others to actions and restraints from action on his or her part. A person enjoys justice insofar as others honor his or her rights to actions and restraints from action on their part. The charge that rights are individualistic makes no sense; rights are inherently social. Likewise the charge that rights are egoistic makes no sense; the very existence of the other places claims upon me. Equally senseless is the insistence one sometimes hears that we should think in terms of obligations rather than rights. If rights go, most obligations go.
To praise God for his justice is to praise God for honoring the rights of his creatures. God does not violate us. God does not treat us with disrespect for our worth. It would be perplexing indeed if God did. For we have the intrinsic worth we do have on account of being created thus by God. [emphasis mine]
One the other hand, God has the right to be honored. We do not honor God as we should. God has the right to be obeyed. We do not obey God as we should. We wrong God, deprive God of what he has a right to. God is victim of our injustice.
If God is wronged, then God is not impassible. That will lead some to conclude that God cannot be wronged. But I take divine forgiveness to be at the heart of the Christian gospel. And if God forgives, then God is not only capable of being wronged but has in fact been wronged. To say it one more time: one can forgive someone only if that person has wronged one and only for the wrong he has done one.