Being An Accidental Heretic

The Play-Doh God

I like love, I don’t like justice. I like grace, I don’t like discipline. Being picky about God isn’t anything new. We strip away things all the time that we don’t like about Him. Treating God like a mound of Play-Doh isn’t a new fad. If anything, it’s the oldest trick in the book. See Genesis 3 for that. It’s nothing foreign for us to come to the Scriptures and say Jesus was a great teacher but he wasn’t God. God is creator and created all that we see but he is uninvolved. He’s loving but he’s not just. From the very start of the church this has been the case. The first 500 years of the church centered around the protection of Jesus’ divinity, his relationship to the Father, and upholding his full humanity.

Heretics fought to argue that He’s man but not fully God. He’s God but he’s not fully man. He’s not God, he’s not man, he’s something different entirely. This was the fight of the church to protect against false teachings and making God into something contrary to who he truly is as revealed through His Word

When we read about those that came against the nature of Christ and those that attempt to breakdown God’s character we bow up and we defend it at all costs. It’s important. It’s necessary. It’s a matter of life and death. But what can be mighty dangerous is something we might not expect, something that might not be as obvious as the divine heresies in the first several centuries of the church.

 

Accidental Heresy

Sure, we don’t seek to strip away the deity of Christ or remove God’s holiness, but what happens when we understand God solely as a disciplinarian Father, not a loving Father? What happens when we take away the Fatherhood from our Loving Creator and Ruler? We may understand a Sovereign King, but not a Loving King that’s also a Dad.

We understand discipline. We get that. We know about the need for that. And we understand being wrong. We understand needing correction. But there’s something that happens when many of us don’t know, and might have never known, how to receive love from a father. Make no mistake, this subtlety greatly affects our theology when we remove the Fatherhood of God.

It causes us to relate to God not how the Scriptures have revealed him to be.

We must connect Christ’s death in our place to the relationship we gain with the Father.

The Scriptures give us a picture of God as a Father that longs to provide for us, care for us, and love us. We see this in the story of the Prodigal Son. We see in Matthew 6 the promise that God cares for us and provides for us more than he does creation. He sees our need and comes to our aid. We read Matthew 7 that tells us if earthly fathers know how to care for their children, how much more will God care for us.

He is unmatched. He is unparalleled. He is aware of us. He is in tune with our needs and will not let us down.

 

Why Jesus Is Important

Jesus came to rescue and redeem. He came to cleanse. He came to release from darkness the prisoners and free us from the bondage of sin and death. He came to purify. We believe that. We herald that. We champion that. But have we connected it with why? Because if we don’t, we miss out on the nature of God’s Being, who God is at his core. And that is Father.

Have you ever thought about what the phrase means when we say Jesus brought us back into relationship with the Father? We must connect the relationship we gain with the Father to our atonement provided by Christ’s death in our place through the work of the Spirit.

The early church explained that the ultimate aim of the Christian life is experiencing the life of God, who He is within Himself, the Trinity, the relationship between Jesus the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. These early theologians explained that Jesus’ mission was to achieve for us welcome and acceptance within the Godhead, His intra-trinitarian nature. This is what taking care of sin does. It cleanses us and gives us the holy and righteous status of Christ so that we get to experience the love of the Father the way Jesus does. Perfect. United. Holy. Loving.

 

Fatherly Love from the Father of All

Not only do we not have to experience ultimate punishment but Jesus achieved for you and for me the reality that we never have to experience fatherly abandonment again. We get access to the greatest Father ever and He desires to provide and care and love us. The Father will not leave. He will provide and wants to provide. He wants to give mercy and grace. And he wants us to come to him through his Son free from fear and timidity.

Jesus provides us with this opportunity. To be welcomed into God’s family and have him as Father the way the Son and Spirit do. I don’t think we see how huge this is in our daily lives. Yes, we have cleansing from sin and pardon from judgment. But because of this we now have access to the Father as true sons and true daughters.

God the Father wants us to come to him through His Son free from fear and timidity.

I realized recently I’ve been living my life in regards to my relationship with God in a very heretical way. I have stripped him of his fatherhood. I don’t know what it looks like to relate to him that way. I’ve never felt comfortable asking him things or letting him know my desires as a child would to his dad. I never thought God cared. I didn’t think he’d listen.

In insecurity and ignorance I removed the fatherhood from the Ultimate Father and lived my life in commitment to a God that isn’t the God revealed through the words of Scripture.

The God of the Bible is a Father. He is The Father.

And because of Christ, those robed in Christ’s work on their behalf can know that God the Father is now our Father.

Because of Christ, God the Father is your Father.

He is my Father.

And even if some of us, me included, need a lot of practice on what that means and how to relate to him in that way, that’s okay. Even if you don’t know what it’s like to come to him as you would a dad, a dad that wasn’t going to leave, get mad, fuss, fight, punish, yell, hit, or ignore, that’s okay. It’s okay if you don’t know what to do.

He’s got open arms and he’s more patient than you can imagine.

He knows what it’s like to be a Father…he’s had the title for quite awhile.

 

Jonathan C. Edwards (@NotThePuritan)

Jonathan (M.Div, Th.M) is the Director of Curriculum for Docent Research Group. He is the author of "Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves," available now!

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