Realities not prejudices

Proportionality and Restored Dignity vs. Hatred and Degradation

Second, God judges ‘each one according to his ways’, which means that justice is proportionate.

A firing squad is not appropriate for cheating on one tax return or even on several. Amputating limbs is not appropriate for stealing a loaf of bread or even several. Excommunication is not appropriate for buying a pornographic magazine or even several.

In other words, God’s judgement is always fair-minded, based on realities and not prejudices, based on real extent rather than the generalisations (and hence implicit false testimony) of rule-based religion. The law says, “if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes” (Deut. 25:2-3).

In other words, to exceed certain limits in punishment, and certainly to exceed what a deed deserves, only serves to ‘degrade your brother’. The aim is to punish a sin so as to restore a loved one to dignified living, not to degrade them. Proportionate punishment knows where to draw the line: it aims to restore dignity out of love, not to remove it out of hate.

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Perpetuating prejudice

Abstract Rhetoric: Schism between ‘Biblical Doctrine’ & Biblical Relating

Second, I will go further: in my view God is shutting down many churches because the religion is pervaded by ‘system’ and not ‘relational wisdom’.

In one church it is the other way around, and it is growing. It is built on a social trinitarian model of God and not on a Platonic model of God – i.e. it is relational, rather than overly hierarchical and abstract. This is not to doubt the great quality of many of the Christians in these churches. It is not their fault that they have been handed down a religion that suppresses relational wisdom, and many have such wisdom despite this fact.

But if loving God and neighbour is the heart of obedience, then any sermon on sin, for example, must focus by definition on relational distortion. So, to be more biblical, it is necessary to preach more in a relational vein, and less in terms of abstract systems, and certainly less in terms of abstract systems dumbed down to pre-school levels and put to the music of jingles that just use the word ‘love’ without explaining it.

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