Who are We to Judge God?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
4 “I have been the LORD your God ever since I brought you out of Egypt. You must acknowledge no God but me, for there is no other savior. 5 I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. 6 But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me. Hosea 13:4-6 (NLT)
Being wise with someone else’s head … is, to be sure, inferior to being wise oneself, but it is infinitely superior to the sterile pride of one who does not achieve the independence of being wise himself, yet at the same time despises the dependence of one who believes on the word of another.” The same line of thought can be detected in Newman’s own comment on man’s basic relationship to truth. Men are all too inclined—the great philosopher of religion opines—to wait placidly for proofs of the reality of revelation, to seek them out as if they were in the position of judge, not suppliant. “They have decided to put the Almighty to the proof—with controlled passion, a total freedom from bias, and a clear head.” But the individual who thus makes himself lord of the truth deceives himself, for truth shuns the arrogant and reveals itself only to those who approach it in an attitude of reverence, of respectful humility. (1)
When we read something brilliant, and quickly begin to use ti to judge and condemn others, I pray we begin to first use the same standard to judge ourselves.
As I read Pope Benedict’s words this morning, (those are the ones in green) I immediately thought of those who dismiss scripture. Some of those are outside the church, who look at stories of miracles and cannot believe them. Others are those inside the church who examine scripture with a scientific mindset, looking to judge whether this passage is valid, or that passage is not really accurate historically. `Both place themselves as the final judge and jury over the word of God.
But that is a temptation for every person, conservative or liberal, confessional or missional. We see it when we apply the text to others, and not to ourselves. We see it when we treat the scriptures from a perspective that is academic, as if it is the greatest theological treatise. When we want to create a system out of the scriptures and use it to put God in a box.
I see this in myself all too often, as I approach the incredible wealth of the scriptures, mining it, being in awe of the words, and forgetting their purpose, that they are the means, not the end. For it is easy to focus on the study and not the prayer and times of intimacy with God that reflecting on them should create. We can, in the name of God, studying His word, become proud, and forget Him, even as we study His revelation to us.
It is when we forget that He is revealed, His love, His mercy, His desire for us to be His people that we end up being proud, that we see ourselves as the authority, not the supplicant.
Luther catches us when we get to this point and reminds us of what it means for God to be God. He tells us we can creep and cling to God, that we can approach Him in the sure knowledge of the hope He has given us, that He will respond, that He will love and cleanse, that He will heal us.
That’s the ends, for us to realize that He is our God, that we are His people. In Him we find rest, and that is what the scriptures are there to teach us, to reveal to us, to assure us of. That is what the covenants describe, it is what Law and Gospel drive us to, it is the reason for the cross. There is no other end of the discussion that is valid. For here is our hope:
We are His people. HE is our God. And as scripture tells us,
“But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. “ John 20:31 (NLT)
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 166–167). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
(2) Martin Luther, The Large Catechism of Martin Luther, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Part First: The Ten Commandments”.
Posted on May 20, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Bible, Decalog, Greatest Commandment, Higher Criticism, Martin Luther, Pope Benedict XVI, Ten Commandments. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.