Here’s the Question:
Brian, I couldn’t agree with you more on the idea that God doesn’t torture 90% of His creation for eternity. You mention the “liberating truth” of Christ. What truth exactly is that, though? To what degree do you affirm the Divine Law, which David said many times is perfect? The Law of Love, expounded upon at length in Psalm 119. Is not God’s Divine Law of Love ultimately the “good news” – since we know Christ = the Word = the law and prophets = love. After all, God’s kingdom requires a Law, as all kingdoms do. The key is to interpret the Law according to the Mind of Christ.
If you have written on this subject, please point me to the material, or maybe a short blog entry? Thanks!
Here’s my Response:
I’m not sure if by your question you want to equate Divine Law = Law of Love = Gospel = Bible? I’m suspicious of equations like this – especially the last element. The Bible is a lot of things … and it has a history and never “works” without interpretation. I’d be nervous about extending the notion that a book wields authority without acknowledging that people interpret the book, and as such, are often the force and will whose authority actually prevails (in the short run, anyway – and long enough to cause a lot of damage). As you say – they key is interpreting the text according to the Mind of Christ.
I’ve written a lot about the Bible in A New Kind of Christianity and Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road. I’ve written a lot about love there as well.
Back to your original question … It really is striking that Jesus dares to say that the Law and Prophets are summed up in love God/love neighbor (plus stranger, enemy, etc). It’s equally striking that Paul reduces this further (in Romans 13:8-10), saying that “love of neighbor” fulfills the law. And equally amazing – in Galatians 5:6, he says, “Circumcision doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love.” Wow. There a lot of Bible verses that say circumcision matters a lot, but like Jesus, Paul says, “You have heard it said … but I say to you …”
So there it is … the “righteousness” that must “surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees” if we are to live in the commonwealth of God: going beyond a law written on stone (or paper), to a law written on the heart: the law of love. Something to ponder (and practice) for a long, long time!