Reading facebook — I came across a quote that did not read True to me: “Where God’s wrath is no longer a problem, Christ’s cross is no longer the solution” Michael Horton.
For those of you who do not know, Horton is a modern reformed theologian, i.e. one of the current generation of Calvinists, and a writer of many books. This quote comes from The Gospel-Driven Life. Horton is concerned that modern Evangelical Christianity is turning from recognizing God’s role in our salvation and becoming a self-help group. To be quite honest, I share his concerns, but I do not think Calvinism holds the answer.
I am not a Calvinist, and I fear that modern Evangelical language suffers from being too Calvinist. My problem with Horton’s view is that it appears to assume that Humanity would be just fine if we did not piss God off (and everything we do pisses God off.) The truth is, we are not just fine, our wrath alone is enough to rain fire down from heaven. Man has the will to build a rather nasty hell on earth. It seems strange that someone could say “God is pissed off at humanity, and wants to torture the vast majority of souls for all eternity”, and then call that good news — this is not the gospel preached by Paul or the apostles.
A quick look at mankind shows that we are not ready for heaven. So many people complain to the Calvinist that a loving God would not send people to Hell, and there is a reaction to the implied universalism, (How could Hitler NOT go to hell?) I submit another question — If a person wants nothing to do with Goodness, if a person rejects the smallest bit of heaven that touches Earth, why should God force a person into a Heaven that is everything he rejects? Would a loving God send an unwilling soul to Heaven, or is it as Lewis writes in Great Divorce?
All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will [a grumbling] mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood.
We humans have one serious problem — we are so caught up in ourselves that we cannot see Truth on our own. Christ came as light. We have forgotten the language of Heaven, and we cannot reach heaven of our own accord. We are unable to approach God, both because God is holy and because we are so small. God, in his mercy, decided to reach out and meet humanity where humanity was. Jesus is the work of God reaching out to us… He is God in Human flesh walking in the mud with us, suffering with us, dying with us. Jesus is God speaking our language and proving His ability to help and be merciful, as the author of Hebrews writes:
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18 NET
Christ’s ministry is more than the forgiveness of sin, it is also teaching us to live in Righteousness — and giving us the power to do so. 2 Peter tells us this gospel in the first chapter. We cannot afford to reduce Christ to only the lamb who was slain, but he must remain the Light that gives Light to the whole world. (John 1)
To satisfy God’s wrath is not enough for Salvation… but Christ provides everything we need for salvation thus Christ’s work must be more than the satisfaction of God’s righteous indignation.